Following a thrilling day of races yesterday for the elite, when the sun shone hard, the night saw quite some rainfall and as the Junior Women were setting up there were a few more shower. With weather predictions suggesting that the rain should hold off during the race, the danger was that the roads on this technical course, would be slippery in places. The most critical part would be the bottom of that big descent but the LOC had placed extra volunteers and medical teams there as well as having put heavy padding over the roadside to protect the athletes. A final decision to avoid the hill was probably the right one but would now, without that climb, change the dynamics.
So – with the live feed taking today’s Junior Races to the world, we sit back and wonder … just who will be on the podium today?
The seas looked a little easier but the early morning start, with an hour less sleep last night due to the clocks changing meant that for many, staying in bed sounded like a better option.
The athletes were introduced and took their places on the start line, ready for the long run down to the crashing waves and the wind blowing from the Atlantic.
Heartbeats …. Silence ….
The athletes on the left hand side of the start got a great dive into the sea just under the leading wave. Click the photo below for the video.
Those not in that group got slapped back up the sand and had to fight back against the power of the waves. The lead was so established with one athlete breaking away and the others, fragmented, trying to get the game together.
One lap only today but still a tough swim.
The lead had extended by the time they passed the first of the turn buoys but with the turn came also the change in wind direction and for those breathing to their left, came the risk of waves and wind smothering the athletes.
They began now to group together behind the leading athlete who was now some 30m ahead and looking up to see the clear line to the beach. Using the final red buoy for sighting, she was now only seconds from the beach and the crowds had now formed on the beach to cheer her to T1.
Strong strokes, fast turnover and excellent swimming had delivered Gabriela Ribeiro POR, wearing #1 to a massive lead.
As she left the water it was clear that she had not yet found her “land legs”, but her lead was enough …. For the moment.
Behind her, despite one of the boats cutting right across the swimmers, it was Italy’s Carlotta Missaglia who led the chase group into T1 and out onto the bike.
With over 20 seconds to make up, the chasing athletes, including Pauline Landron FRA would need to work hard.
Tucked in there, after a great swim, was Ireland’s Erin McConnell and one more from Portugal.
Ribeiro was out front … alone and having to do all the work. With the wind behind her, not so much of a problem but once she had turned it would be a very lonely place indeed. She was soon caught by Missaglia, Landron, Julie Iemmolo FRA, McConnell and that second athlete from the host nation, Inês Rico POR.
The leading group of six worked well together. The crowds, now beginning to fill the pavements, cheered as the athletes sped past.
Ribeiro tucked in and Missaglia took control to make sure that everyone took their turn at the front. No passengers today. Work with us or go somewhere else. Landron took the initiative to push the pace. Everyone responded. Missaglia looked in command as she led the pack. Ribeiro sat at the back after the turn and then rode through to take her place at the front as the pack chain-ganged along the roads trying hard to build their lead.
McConnell was working hard to keep in contact with the group and every time the speed dropped, she found her way back into the six.
Ribeiro and Rico went to the front and the pace upped again.
McConnell now with them at the front pushed hard.
As they passed the bottom of the hill you could see that the Organisers, working with the Technical Delegate, Luis Coira Nieto (ESP), had made the right call. There was standing water all over the road that would have made any turn, at speed from the descent, really risky.
On the flat run out to the turn it was now that Ribeiro turned on the afterburners and her pace began to pull the pack along at a greater speed. Behind them a chase peloton of seven was working hard to try and catch the leaders.
As the 20k bike segment was nearing its end, the pack had formed a smooth-running machine that was keeping its advantage over the pack of athletes that was chasing. A comfortable lead had been established and looked pretty likely that the medals would be fought for by this leading mix from Portugal, France, Italy and Ireland.
Landron checked behind her. Making sure that the athletes all worked their share. Commands were shouted again. McConnell took command and led them past the wheel stop. Missaglia once more took the lead. Their advantage was holding.
One more dead turn and then the run back to T2.
Coming in to T2 it would be essential that the athletes got a good position as they came onto the blue carpet. Ribeiro has the better pace over Rico but Missaglia would be a real threat. It was Missaglia, Landron and Rico first onto the carpet. No mistakes …. The technical officials are watching.
Landron sped out of T2 with Rico making a fantastic spent to join her. Missaglia soon made up the distance and was with them. Ribeiro sat back, took her water from the drinks station and watched them. McConnell held on.
Behind them, Audrey Ducornet FRA was leading the charge from the chase group but it was her teammate, Landron who had taken control of the race and was storming away at the front. Missaglia kept her in sight but the young Frenchwoman had created a lead of some 30m. Rico had managed to hold on to the feet of the Italian and to Ribeiro’s amazement, was comfortably ahead of her. France, Italy, Portugal, Portugal.
Taking the bell, Landron, 7th here last year, was comfortably ahead and had now had a good chance to see how her competition was looking. Missaglia looked strong. Rico, one of the youngest in the race, looked determined. Ribeiro looked tired.
As Landron came back onto the seafront for the final run to the finish line, she had a lead of over 20 seconds on Missaglia and Rico.
It was Missaglia doing all the work, with Rico sat on her shoulder. Did the young Portuguese athlete have a final kick?
Landron was sorted. She had the gold and for the French team, it was looking like a really good weekend – no pressure then on the Junior Men.
She came onto the blue carpet and the finish was lined with spectators. Behind her Rico kicked and timed her kick perfectly to sail past Missaglia who had nothing more to give.
Once again ETU Media’s Filipe Pereira was there to capture some great moments with his camera.
Related Event: 2018 Quarteira ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup
|Results: Junior Men|
|1.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||00:58:15|
|8.||Sergio Baxter Cabrera||ESP||00:59:20|
|Results: Junior Women|
|10.||Barbara De Koning||NED||01:07:57|