Coach travelled to Geneva today as Nicola (Spirig) looked to defend her European Championship. A good opportunity to get a first-hand glimpse at how the Champ is travelling form-wise.
One of the disadvantages of being on the ground was that I missed hearing Reto Hug’s (Nicola’s husband, Swiss TV commentator and multiple European champion himself) assessment of Nicola’s swim start. I’m sure an interesting German version of ‘not good’ was used somewhere.
Coach had placed himself at the 750m mark of the swim and started to get heart palpitations as Nicola exited the water last and on the back of the 3rd pack!
Over the many years of watching The Champ compete I’ve been taught one thing – never to expect the predictable.
So while my heart was racing, I moved to the designated bike point only to be pleasantly surprised at seeing how she’d moved through the water during the second half of the swim and was now only 1 minute 15 down – furiously scooping up people on the bike as she made her way to the lead pack.
One thing I like about Swiss racing is you are always guaranteed a real triathlon course. Geneva didn’t disappoint. While fast in certain areas it still has enough hills to tests the legs of even the girls hellbent on drafting and not taking a turn.
Such a course really suits Nicola. During the ride she was always under control and took her time in tracking down the breakaway group in very hot conditions.
I commend the two English girls (Lucy Hall and Jess Learmonth) who really got down to work on the bike and for 20km dug deep and courageously hung in. However it was always going to be a tough ask with the Spirig train working up a head of steam through the hills.
As the main pack caught the leaders it looked like it was going to be a run shoot-out between some real speedsters, until Jodie Stimpson fell foul with a mechanical and dropped from the run gang preparing to slug it out on the 35C pavement.
A quick transition saw Nicola storm out of T2 and ask the question of her rivals’ legs on how they enjoyed the little bike workout. It was the Italian, Anna Mazzeti, who answered first, bravely striding away from the rest of the group who were visibly suffering from the tough ride.
From that point Nicola took control of the race and improved her lead with every kilometre. It was a lesson in controlled aggression from one of the best in the business. Onto the last lap it was obvious she still had plenty more in the tank as she powered away to the delight of her home crowd.
A fifth European Championship won in Championship fashion. Congratulations on a great effort. We now look forward to an interesting discussion on what the next challenge will be this season.
Recap from Coach Bella Bayliss:
Photos from the weekend: John Stapleton (Credit: George Reid), Lucy Biddlestone (Credit: Athlete Photography by James Mitchell) and Jane, Caroline Young and Joan Palmer.
Lucy Biddlestone won the ‘Bustinskin’ half distance triathlon in Weymouth, UK, this weekend. Her 2nd win in 8 days!
Lucy works so hard at this sport and she loves it all. She is turning herself into a little machine! I love her attitude. Being swimming challenged hasn’t fazed her, she just works harder and asks me for more swimming. Everyday she asks for more, more more! And the hard work is showing. Congratulations Lucy! So proud of you. Keep this going!
John Stapleton finished Challenge Roth in 11 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds. John’s fastest Iron distance even with a tough run for him today! It is another great achievement for this busy working man from Ireland and all great preparation for 70.3 Dublin next month.
Jane, Caroline Young and Joan Palmer all had a successful race out at the Women’s only triathlon at Eton Dorney Lake in the UK: 800m swim 37k bike and 7.5k run.
Great job girls! Keep up this great training you all do! See you at the races again soon!
Message from Coach Robbie Haywood:
Congratulations to Jeneane Paxson on your first Iron Distance race, at Challenge Roth.