Triumph for Alexandra Tondeur in the long distance world championships
Pontevedra, Spain, was the stage for the 2019 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships. A field of world class women lined up for battle across the long distance race format, which took in the sights and streets of Pontevedra and circled the Lerez River.
In the elite women’s race Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen produced a quick swim across the shortened 1.5km format, to exit the water with a 40-second lead. The Danish triathlete, who claimed fourth in 2018 Fyn ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, lost 35-seconds in transition but still managed to lead out onto the bike.
Swiss triathlete Emma Bilham made an early statement to catch up to the swim leader, however a mechanical fault forced her to pull over and lose time in the initial portio of the bike race.
After the first turnaround point it was France’s Manon Genet who put the power on the bridge the gap and take the lead over Pedersen.
After the first of three laps Pedersen led the group of women into the heart of Pontevedra city, 3-seconds ahead of Tondeur and Spain’s Noguera.
Fellow Spaniard Judith Corachan Vaquero was riding in fifth place and looking to make an impact in front of a home crowd.
Maja Stage Nielsen, a strong contender leading into today’s race, was in sixth place riding 1-minute and 34-seconds down on the race leaders.
Bilham, who was the fastest lady in the early stages of the race was now sitting in seventh position after the first of three bike laps.
During the second bike lap Genet controlled the race from the front, with a group of three ladies featuring Pedersen and Tondeur.
In this position Tondeur had set herself up for a fantastic race, marked as the strongest runner sitting in this lead group.
Noguera and Vaquero had dropped off the pace and were 1-minutes-45-seconds back. Bilham and Nielsen a further 2-minutes.
On the final stage of the bike course, the trio of women remained in the charge. Genet, Pedersen and Tondeur made a serious gap into competition and no women behind them were choosing to move.
As the ladies made their way on the third and final gap, towards transition, Genet held onto the lead seat with Pedersen and Tondeur in second and third. Vaquero and Noguera were 4-minutes down.
On the final straight it was Genet who led the women back into town. The French woman produced a fast transition to commence the 30-km run, followed by Pedersen. Tondeur was 30-seconds back.
Pedersen and Tondeur, both strong runners, knew it was going to be a fast and tactical running race. Hopefully adrenaline and spectator support would assist the injured Pedersen to produce a comfortable run. At this stage of the race, the competition were already 5-minutes down on the lead runners.
Unfortunately, after the first lap of the run Pedersen, who was the front runner of the women’s race, was forced to retire.
Tondeur took control of the race and was dominating the 30km run, as the elite women circled the stadium, across four laps, in the heart of Pontevedra. Genet served a 60-second penalty with 5-km to go on the run which forced her to lose momentum and sight of podium contention.
This was enough to urge the chasing Spaniards to make an impact and run shoulder to shoulder. With the top spot on the podium all decided, the Spanish team mates were battling for silver and bronze.
With the finish line in sight Tondeur started to celebrate. In an emotional finish, the Belgian was awarded the 2019 ITU Long Distance World Championship title.
With the two Spaniards running strong, it was Vaquero who sprinted ahead in the final stage to cross the line and be presented with the silver medal and Noguera was awarded the bronze medal in front of a celebratory home crowd.
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