Nicola Spirig of Switzerland broke away from Ainhoa Murua of Spain in the final few hundred meters to win the Elite Women’s title at the ETU European Championship Friday in Eilat, Israel.
Spirig, who previously won this title in 2009 and 2010, found an extra gear down the stretch and left her Spanish rival behind at the line – as she had done last weekend to take 5th while Murua finished 6th at the Sydney round of the ITU World Triathlon Series.
Spirig finished in 2:07:11 with a 9 seconds margin of victory over runner-up Murua, and a 43 seconds margin over 3rd place finisher Emmie Charayron of France.
Spirig came out of the water in 9th, 21 seconds back of leader Lucy Hall’s race-best 19:38, and 3 seconds ahead of Murua and 1 second ahead of Charayron.
On the bike, 11 women including Spirig quickly formed a lead pack which included Murua, Charayron, Jess Harrison, Camilla Pedersen, Helle Frederiksen, Vanessa Raw, and Vendula Frintova. By the end of the bike, they had a 2 minute advantage and none of the chasers had enough run speed to contend.
Spirig initially lost ground when she dropped a shoe coming into T2, but quickly recovered to start the run in third behind Jess Harrison and Murua and just ahead of Frederiksen. On the second lap of the run, Sprig and Murua broke free of Charayron, who had opened up ground in front of Harrison. On the last corner of the final lap, a few hundred yards from the finish, Spirig polished off Murua and took the win.
"I felt good on the run,” Spirig told ETU media. “My training has been going amazing and that’s how it should feel in a race and I’m just extremely happy. It was same sprint with Murua last week in Sydney and I won. We were discussing that and I told her that I am good in a sprint and I will beat you every time. She knew she had to get rid of me before the finish, and the closer we got to the finish line, the more nervous she became.”
Murua told ETU media that she agreed: “I knew that Nicola, she has a very strong final run. I tried to go hard, on the last lap, pushing and pushing hard but I couldn’t get past. But after two years of finishing 4th, today I'm 2nd and it has been a really nice race and I’m very happy."
Defending European women’s champion Charayron finished third but was not dismayed. “I felt tired because it is my first race of the season. I couldn’t defend my title because I am not fit enough. But to finish behind Nicola and Ainhoa, it’s a very good race and I’m very pleased."
ETU European Championships
20 April 2012
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:07:11
2. Ainhoa Murua (ESP) 2:07:20
3. Emmie Charayron (FRA) 2:07:56
4. Jessica Harrison (FRA) 2:08:27
5. Vendula Frintova (CZE) 2:09:00
6. Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL) 2:09:23
7. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 2:09:34
8. Irina Abysova (RUS) 2:09:52
9. Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) 2:10:00
10. Carole Peon (FRA) 2:10:04