Jessica Learnmonth broke away from British teammate Sophie Coldwell in the final 2k of the run to win the ETU European Championship at Kitzbühel. Learmonth finished in 1:57:50 with a 15 seconds margin of victory over silver medalist Coldwell and 41 seconds over bronze medalist Alice Betto of Italy.
Right after joining the Great Britain elite squad in 2015, Learmonth broke both elbows in a training accident and did not hit full stride again until 2016.
The win was Learmonth’s third in ITU elite competition after European Cup wins at Gran Canaria in 2017 and at Quarteira in 2016. Learmonth and fellow Brit Lucy Hall made an impact on the 2016 WTS Grand Final in Cozumel as they led the swim and joined Flora Duffy in a bike breakaway that gave the Bermudan a race victory over Gwen Jorgensen and the WTS World Championship title.
Learmonth led the two lap swim in the Schwarzsee with a split of 19:09, which gave her an 18 seconds lead on Anastasia Gorbunova of Russia and roughly 40 seconds over the trio of Betto, Coldwell and Anastasia Abrosimova of Russia.
Rather than embark on a kamikaze solo breakaway, Learmonth coolly waited to be joined by Gorbunova, Coldwell and Betto, who was coming off a career breakthrough bronze at WTS Leeds. Working well together on the 40k bike leg, the quartet entered T2 with a 2 minutes lead on the field.
Clearly in top form, Learmonth and Coldwell quickly dropped Gorbunova and broke away from Betto to an 80 meter lead by the end of the first 2.5k lap. By the end of the third lap, Learmonth and Coldwell were out of sight and Betto simply had to hold off swift runners Vendula Frintova of the Czech Republic and Claire Michel of Belgium for the bronze.
On the final 2.5k lap, Learmonth put it into another gear and dropped Coldwell. After an 8th-best 37:14 run, Learmonth led Coldwell (37:27 run) by 15 seconds and Betto (37:53 run) by 41 seconds at the finish.
Frintova ran 35:51 to edge Michel (35:44 run) for 4th place in equal 1:58:41 times. Cassandre Beaugrand of France made up a lot of ground with a race-best 34:59 run split to take 10th place.
ETU European Championship
June 16, 2017
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Jessica Learmonth (GBR) 1:57:50
2. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) 1:58:05
3. Alice Betto (ITA) 1:58:31
4. Vendula Frintova (CZE) 1:58:41
5. Claire Michel (BEL) 1:58:41
6. Jolanda Annen (SUI) 1:58:47
7. Sara Vilic (AUT) 1:59:00
8. Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS) 1:59:24
9. Zsófia Kovács (HUN) 1:59:28
10. Cassandra Beaugrand (FRA) 1:59:37
DNF Vanessa Fernandes (POR)