By Paul Groves on 26/09/14 at 2:52 pm
Madrid – as the final race in the ETU Ranking Series – saw athletes fitting yet another race into their calendar to ensure that their hard work throughout the season was rewarded with points and an overall ranking in the series. If they wanted their accumulated points to have value then they had to race at Madrid. There are still a couple of events to go in the year but any points from those races will count towards next year’s ranking series (2015) but of course points won will still count towards the ETU Points List (Men & Women). With the inaugural Baku European Games in June next year points that are won in ETU races will be so very important.
It was hot in Madrid – very hot. As the athletes made their final preparations the mercury in the thermometers crept up to and past 290C. The positions were selected by the athletes as they came out onto the start pontoon and once again Madrid saw top-class triathletes hit the waters of the lake. No wetsuits, so the swim was going to be critical.
For the women an early lead by the British athlete Jessica Learmonth was seen with the first lap.
She kept hold of that lead and extended it to exit the water in 19:02, with fellow Brit, Natalie Milne ten seconds behind her. Strong swims from Margot Garabedian FRA and Sara Perez Sala ESP much to the delight of the home crowds. 25 seconds back was the main pack led by Inna Ryzhykh UKR. Anneke Jenkins NZL and Yuliya Yelistratova UKR.
Out onto the bike and the heat was beginning to be felt. Learmonth dominated the bike leaving all behind her.
A chase pack of five soon lost one athlete who retired. This left Jenkins, Garabedian, Shorets and Yelistratova to try and keep the British athlete in their sights.
Several athletes dropped out due to the heat and perhaps being mindful of another race coming up this weekend in Alanya.
It was Learmonth who entered T2 first with a massive two-minute lead. She took off with blistering speed and if Yelistratova was to maintain her number 1 position in the ETU Ranking Series then she would have to work hard and in hot conditions. Coming out of T2 she had work to do. Slowly but surely she overtook those in front of her until only Learmonth was left.
The crowds lining the finish saw a jubilant Yelistratova cross the line first. Learmonth paid the price of a solo ride and was pipped into bronze position by Jenkins who took the silver.
The men’s race was going to be tough too with so many of Europe’s top athletes present. Many of them on the start list were familiar with the hilly bike course and knew that if it is hot in Madrid, it hurts bad.
Some top swimmers would be there and the pace would be fast. It was Anthony Pujades FRA who led out of the water with an impressive 17:56.
Just a pace behind him and well-placed for the bike was Dmitry Polyanskiy RUS. Frederic Belaubre FRA was a second behind the Russian and then followed, in the space of just 9 seconds the powerhouse that would fight for podium places.
We saw a magnificently brave bike ride from the Norwegian athlete Kristian Blummenfelt in Edmonton. His ride with Alistair Brownlee was epic but his run afterwards suffered. Would he work hard and make a breakaway again here in Madrid, or would he stick in the pack, take his turn at the front and see how fresh legs felt on the hot 10k?
For Polyanskiy, “The race was hard for me. The impact hot weather and tough bike course”. No massive breakaways were made. It was collective suffering out there in the heat and a pack of ten entered T2 with just the 10k to sort out the podium, the points and the prize-money.
The run was always going to hurt and with Pujades flying out of T2 it would be catch-up for the rest. Polyanskiy swiftly moved into a strong position and behind him, with his running legs on was the Norwegian, Blummenfelt. Belaubre was striding out and catching up but would he have the pace to beat the Russian.
In the final stages of the run Polyanskiy was able to catch up to Pujades and indeed pass him.
“I suffered on the run after the bike”, Polyanski later reported but was able to keep his lead and cross the line to take gold.
Jubilant with his victory, “I am very happy that I was able not only to defend the first place in the series, but also to win a stage in Madrid. I would like to say a few words thanks for the excellent organization and for the warm welcome.”
Belaubre held on to silver and a fantastic 32:12 10k from Blummenfelt saw him take bronze for Norway.
The ETU Ranking Series now complete, here are the standings for the women and for the men. 2014 was a tough year. Watch this space for news about the 2015 ETU Rankings Series. We will list all the events that will count and provide clear guidance about how the ranking works.
A very special thank you to Yeray Menéndez the official photographer from the Spanish Triathlon Federation for the magnificent photos.
|7.||Pablo Dapena Gonzalez||ESP||01:55:31|
|4.||Miriam Casillas García||ESP||02:11:50|
Find more details about this event - 2014 Madrid ETU Triathlon European Cup Final