This weekend saw the seaside city of Quarteira once again deliver a thrilling race. With the sunshine, fresh sea air and course lined with spectators, this was a showcase event and once again the Federação de Triatlo de Portugal showed us that this is a great triathlon venue.
With support from the main sponsors, easy to get to travel links and the varied course, it has been popular with athletes of all abilities over the years.
The 2019 edition saw a surprise entry from Germany’s Laura Lindemann. No trip to the pink sandy beaches of Bermuda for her this year but still a swim in the Atlantic.
She was in the lead group of three as they ran up to T1. Portugal’s very own Vera Vilaça and Great Britain’s Sophie Alden pulled the German along, working well in the water to create distance between them and the six-strong chase pack. Behind them and a larger group was unable to close down the gap.
Out onto the bike and the three adopted the Hall / Learmonth approach to riding the Quarteira bike course, putting pressure on those behind with sensible riding. Well worth watching again if you have the chance.
The flat sections of the bike course allowed them to apply the power but it was the climbs and descents where the real escapes took place. The chase group began to grow but was still 60 seconds down. An attack from within the group was soon beaten off and so the leaders had a free run to the blue carpet leading to transition.
Coming into T2, the leaders were comfortably ahead and for Lindemann, this was a gift. Her running would not be beaten and the race was hers pretty much before the first dead turn had been reached.
It was behind her that the real action was taking place. Vilaça dropped back. Alden dug deep and from behind the French athletes were beginning to advance through the pack. Sandra Dodet so explosively fast was alongside Emilie Morier but changing gears and posting a supreme run, it was Morier who saw her advantage.
Gold was won by Lindemann.
The run course has a series of dead turns and as she hit each one, Morier knew exactly what she needed to do to get the podium. With no chance of catching the German, she focussed her attention on the British uniform of Alden and reeled her in to catch and pass her and claim the silver. Beating Dodet was a bit of payback after Astana last year and a good run time for her.
Alden’s bronze is her first Elite podium and a great reward for her hard work out on the bike.
Sadly for the crowds, Lindemann was absent from the podium and missed out on the medal and the champagne. Happily for the crowds, the smiles from Morier and Alden, lit up the stage and gave everyone a chance to celebrate their fantastic performances.
For the men, we had predicted that USA’s Seth Rider would have a battle on his hands against the fired up Spanish athlete, Alberto González García whose gave so much in Melilla but just missed the podium and from the returning from injury YOG Champion, Ben Dijkstra.
A magnificent beach start took your breath away as you watched the huge men’s field storm down to the crashing Atlantic breakers.
Rider kept the swim leaders in close sight, as Spain’s swim star, Kevin Tarek Viñuela González and Anthony Pujades FRA led them out of the water and up into T1. Rider was in the small but select chase group, with González alongside. Dijkstra had swum with the next group, sensibly pacing with Csongor Lehmann and last year’s junior winner, Vetle Bergsvik Thorn NOR.
The early hard work in the sea was soon brought under control and the spectators were treated to the view of a massive peloton of athletes that brought with it the risk of a crash. This year, the athletes knowing full well how much this course can hurt of you come off the bike, there were no crashes but instead some very well organised pack riding.
This of course meant that the runners could benefit from the protection of a large group of cyclists and as the laps were counted down, it would be clear that the final 10k run would be pretty intense.
The powerful running at the lead soon took a pack of 8 athletes away from the main group.
Dijkstra was there, González was there, Rider was there, Pujades was there and so was Tom Richard, but in his first international attempt at this distance having moved up from the junior ranks, Thorn was showing no signs of tiring and this was clearly a worry to the others.
As the laps began to eat into the very soul of the leaders, it was Spain, Great Britain and Norway that pulled ahead.
Then came a stunning attack it was González who edged past Dijkstra to claim the gold. With silver going to GB, an absolutely delighted Thorn claimed bronze ahead of some very experienced runners.
All three athletes stayed for the medal and champagne ceremony and, joining Morier and Alden for the champagne, soon had the VIPs running for cover as the corks popped and as the bubbly sprayed out from the bottles.
The end of a pretty perfect day and all watched live of TV – another great production from the host LOC.
Our ETU Photographers were out and about on the course, keeping out of camera shot and our thanks go to Yossi Rubanenko and Filipe Pereira @usd_bd for their great photos. They are busy editing images and we hope to be able to bring you some photos from the Junior races on Monday.
Related Event: 2019 Quarteira ETU Triathlon European Cup
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Alberto Gonzalez Garcia||ESP||01:50:28|
|3.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||01:50:31|
|7.||Kevin Tarek Viñuela Gonzalez||ESP||01:51:40|
|8.||Marco Van Der Stel||NED||01:51:41|
|10.||Christophe De Keyser||BEL||01:52:25|
|Results: Elite Women|
|5.||Madalena Amaral Almeida||POR||02:09:04|