GLASGOW (Reuters) – Nicola Spirig, one of the great triathlon exponents the sport has seen, added yet another title to her golden collection when she swam, cycled and ran to the most emphatic victory in the European Championships on Thursday.
The Swiss lawyer and mother-of-two, the oldest woman in the race at 36, was still in a different class to her opponents as she sped away with her sixth European triathlon title by more than half-a-minute to dethrone Britain’s Jess Learmonth.
On a demandingly hot afternoon at Strathclyde Country Park near Glasgow, she covered the 1,500 metres swim, 40km cycle ride and 10km run in one hour 59 minutes 13 seconds, having broken Learmonth on the final leg.
Spirig, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 silver medallist, had been 51 seconds down on Learmonth when she emerged from the swim but with a magnificent, solitary ride managed to pull back the lead on the Briton and France’s Cassandre Beaugrand.
After Beaugrand was dropped in the cycle section, it came down to a road-running duel with Spirig making a much swifter transition than the Briton, immediately picking up a few seconds at the start of the run before then powering away.
Learmonth, who made an admirable defence of the title she won in Kitzbuhel last year, eventually finished in 1:59:46, 33 seconds behind, while Beaugrand took the bronze in 2:00:57.
Yet the pursuers could not get near Spirig, a serial winner since she won her first European junior crown 19 years ago.
It was another remarkable success story for Spirig, who juggles her training with being a mother to two small children, running a foundation to help young sportspeople and leading a series of mini-triathlon races for children across Switzerland.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Alison Williams)