With Italy’s Beatrice Mallozzi choosing to race the Junior event this weekend, the other athletes knew that they would have to work hard to close down her amazing running.
Behind them was a long line of athletes. Mallozzi was over 40 seconds down as they ran into T1.
Out onto the bike and Ribeiro powered away alone on the bike for most of the 20k. The crowds, sensing a victory, cheered and cheered; hoping that she could keep ahead of the pack and save her legs for the final 5k run.
Behind her, three different chase packs were trying their best to close the gap. 11 in the first group, then 3, then the main pack.
The Portuguese athlete was caught. It was inevitable. Then, working together, the pack made its way to T2. The real threat to the Portuguese victory was there. Mallozzi had bridged the gap and was well-placed for the run.
Now she had the advantage and upped the pace. Ribeiro found another gear and stayed with the Italian for as long as she could but the run pace of the athlete in the blue uniform on the final lap was too much and Mallozzi broke free.
The real drama took place with the finish line in sight. With a ten-second time penalty, the Italian could either run through to the finish and get disqualified in the hope that any appeal would be in her favour, or she could take the time penalty. With such power on the run, she made the right call, sprinted away, created that gap and stood for the longest ten seconds of her life; watching behind her as Ribeiro got closer and closer to the echoing cheers and shouts of the crowds who were willing the clock to slow down and for their athlete to speed up.
Having got all the calculations right, Mallozzi sprinted away from the penalty box to cross the line just two seconds clear of Ribeiro. France’s Emilie Noyer, who raced in the Buenos Aires YOPG put in an impressive final run to cut through the pack and secure bronze and in so doing clocked the fastest 5k of the day. She literally ran her heart out but had recovered well by the time the medals were persented.
After the race, Mallozzi said, “I felt very good. An interesting race on the bike and on the run. My first time here, I really enjoyed it.”
For the Junior Men, there was hope from the Italians that one of their athletes would make this a repeat of the Melilla event and take the gold.
A massive beach start took them down to the ocean and indeed, it was Alessio Crociani who led them out of the water with a clear advantage.
As they set off on the bike, the Italians took control with Crociani being joined by Davide Ingrilli. For the home crowds, it was Ricardo Batista added to the group was Marcus Dey GBR, who was having the race of his life.
Behind them, a chase group of 4, with the young Alexandre Montez, runner-up last year at the Buenos Aires YOG.
As the laps ticked down, the chase group worked really hard to keep the peloton under control and to try to bridge the gap to the leaders. They worked well and caught up to the leaders.
It was beginning to look like a battle between the leading 8, the peloton looked like it was catching up on the final lap and it was a 20-strong group of athletes that touched down on the blue carpet of T2.
Lightning-fast transitions saw 11 athletes break out onto the run ahead of the rest of the field. The dead turns giving every opportunity to see how the race was unfolding, the stronger runners soon started to push the pace and 5 were dropped.
In the lead group now were Crociani, Batista and Great Britain’s Matt Willis, who we all know can run as he came to the race as the 2018 World Junior Duathlon Champion. With a warm up at the World Cross Country Championships, where he came home as first Brit (best result for them since 2008) and second European runner against a stellar field, his pace was never going to be in doubt.
Crociani began to suffer and it was a two-horse race with Batista, urged on by the crowds, and Willis determined not to let him win.
Neck and neck, pace for pace and then where the cheering was at its loudest and where the Portuguese fans were going wild, Willis delivered the killer kick and broke free to take the finish tape.
Gold to GB, silver to Portugal and with a mighty show of pace in the final stages, it was Baptiste Passemard FRA who claimed the bronze.
Related Event: 2019 Quarteira ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup
|Results: Junior Men|
|Results: Junior Women|
|6.||Karolina Helga Horváth||HUN||01:04:27|