The road to London 2012 officially began in Madrid as Olympic qualifying started at the third leg of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The event marked the eighth consecutive year the Spanish capital has hosted an ITU event in Casa de Campo Park.
The women’s field in Madrid also saw the return of 2007 World Champion Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal. The once invincible Fernandes—who owns the most World Cup wins in ITU history—has been plagued by injury since early 2009 and sat out most of last season. Up until last year, no other woman had ever won on the Madrid course but now with Fernandes back in the mix, would she simply resume her winning ways at her favourite race?
The rust showed as Fernandes was not in serious contention for the podium. Instead, Switzerland continued to roll through the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, as Nicola Spirig ran away with round three in Madrid.
After a few unsuccessful breakaways on the bike course, which included a 400-metre climb, two groups came together just past the midway point and rode together for the remainder of the 40-kilometre ride. As they entered T2 together, Spirig bolted out of transition with five other women in hot pursuit.
On the bell lap of the run, the Swiss veteran managed to drop all of them except for French youngster Emmie Charayron and Britain’s Helen Jenkins. But in the final 400 meters, Spirig pushed into another level and ran away for her first victory of 2010. Charayron and Jenkins claimed silver and bronze respectively. Fernandes finished tenth.
“It’s amazing to have such a great Swiss team, and it’s great for me as I have just finished up my studies. It was just a great day,” said Spirig, who finished her law degree prior to the race. “I always try to have a fast transition and today that worked to my advantage. I wanted to make sure that the group couldn’t stay together at the start of the run.”
On the men’s side, all the pre-race talk swirled around a potential showdown between the last two ITU World Champions, Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez. Both were sidelined with injuries earlier in the year so many were eager for a fierce battle with both men healthy and ready to race.
But instead of Gomez, Brownlee was locked in a running dual with Australian Courtney Atkinson. The two ran together for almost the entire run until Brownlee turned up the pace and cruised to the finish line for his second straight win in Madrid. Atkinson came across for silver while Swiss Sven Riederer took the bronze. Gomez finished just off the podium in fourth place.
“This win overshadows anything I did last year,” Brownlee said after the race. “It was totally unexpected. This is by far the proudest victory I’ve ever had after what I’ve been through in the last couple of months.”
Next year Madrid will again host the third round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series on the first weekend in June.
Related Event: 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series Madrid
|Results: Elite Women|
|9.||Ainhoa Murua Zubizarreta||ESP||02:07:41|
|Results: Elite Men|
|4.||Javier Gomez Noya||ESP||01:53:17|