Spirig strikes again while Iden surprises all to claim the title in Lausanne WC
The elite circuit stopped in Lausanne this weekend for the 10th stop of the 2018 ITU World Cup circuit. And in a hot and humid day, the Swiss superstar Nicola Spirig claimed the victory on home soil, while in the men's race, the young Norwegian Gustav Iden finished in first place ahead of the two favourites, Jonathan Brownlee and Kristian Blummenfelt.
The scenario looked like customized for the Swiss double Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig to continue with her winning strike, and she just delivered. With the sun hitting hard in the stunning Geneva Lake, Spirig showed once more her class to take the win at the 2018 ITU Lausanne World Cup cheered by thousands of spectators, delighted with her dominance of the race. Behind her, two-time junior World Champion Taylor Knibb claimed the silver medal, while Italian Verena Steinhauser finished in third place.
It was the British Lucy Hall who managed to leave the swim in first place, followed quite closely by Dutch Maya Kingma. Only a few seconds behind, the double U23 World Champion, Tamara Gorman (USA) looked like the one to beat today, pushing really hard to try to break away early on the bike course, knowing what was coming behind.
Because all the field knew that this bike course looked like made for Spirig. One of the strongest bikers of the circuit, the tough hills of Lausanne, which the athletes had to go up 14 times, proved to be so demanding that the three leaders were quickly caught by the group, led by the Swiss, never looking back and always pushing even when going up.
With Spirig always leading, accompanied by Taylor Knibb, Verena Steinhauser and Mathilde Gautier (FRA), by the third lap the small group had built up a consistent lead that ended up in almost two minutes by the end of the 40 km bike ride. Behind them, a large chase group looked too big to try to work to reduce the time difference, and the women started saving some legs for the 10km run.
And it was right after the second transition where Spirig didn’t even look back to see what the other three were going to do. The Swiss, cheered by thousands of spectators, included her husband and her two young kids, left solo and no one was able to follow her, to finish with a 36’04’’ run under the challenging heat, the second best split of the day.
behind her, only Knibb was able to keep for a bit the pace of the Swiss, but Nicola knew the time difference with her and maintained a 30 seconds gap to cross the line in the first place, all smiles, for much delight of the local crowds. Behind her, Knibb, who had had the fastest split on the bike, got her first podium of the season, while for the third woman on the finish line, Steinhauser, this was her second bronze medal of the World Cup season.
In fourth place, another veteran, Barbara Riveros (CHI), back on top five places after almost two years out of competition due to several injuries.
“This was surely not an easy win. I had cramps everywhere, even in the fingers. I tried to still go fast and taking it step by step, but it wasn’t easy”, said Spirig after the race. “It was amazing to win here. I had so much support from the crowds. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, ... it was just perfect. I had my first European Championship back in 1998 here in Lausanne, and it’s amazing to be back. The bike course was crazy. I hadn’t seen so many movements and attacks in a while. Taylor Knibb was really strong and when she attacked I decided to try to stay with her, and it ended up being a great decision. But in the run the legs felt pretty bad, and until I had like almost 40 seconds with the second one I was not confident and I was able to then enjoy the last meters”, she explained.
For Knibb Lausanne “wasn’t a perfect race, but is getting there”. “It was a nice race, and it was great that I wasable to put it up altogether. I still need to improve on the swim, but we are getting there. Knibb, who has to “come back to school in five days”, said that this podium “it’s coming out just at the right time”. “It was a really hard course. I wasn´t confident in the bike course, but I knew that everyone was feeling the same. It’s really nice to have such a course, it’s really honest. And after the bike course, I knew that I was not gonna feel great, but that’s better for me to keep a little speed on my legs”.
Verena Steinhauser said: “This was the hardest race I’ve ever done. The course is amazing, the whole location is amazing, the bike course is really, really hard, but I really liked it. I tried to push on the run but I didn’t have the legs. I’m especially happy after the tragedy that we had back home in Genova last week, and I really want to dedicate this podium to all the victims, I hope this brings a bit of joy for my fellow Italians”.
Results: Elite Women
1. Nicola Spirig SUISUI Flag 02:05:11
2. Taylor Knibb USAUSA Flag 02:06:02
3. Verena Steinhauser ITAITA Flag 02:06:25
4. Barbara Riveros CHICHI Flag 02:07:16
5. Julia Hauser AUTAUT Flag 02:07:28
he Norwegian team proved once more that they are always to be considered when confronting a tough and challenging bike course. And in Lausanne at the 2018 World Cup it was Gustav Iden surprising all the favourites to claim the victory, with Jonathan Brownlee following him in second place and another Norwegian, Kristian Blummenfelt, grabbing the bronze medal.
Afbeginningng all the podium positions in WTS Bermuda at the beginning of the season, the Norwegians have had an up and down season, but arrived in Lausanne knowing that the hills and technical course in the Olympic capital looked like a perfect fit for them.
With a pretty hot and humid afternoon in Lausanne, the 1.5km swim did little to determine the race, with almost all the athletes exiting the water altogether, knowing that it was going to be the bike the leg that will define the race.
And right at the beginning of the bike course Jonny Brownlee decided to attack and test all the field, with Andrea Salvisberg (SUI) the only one following. but behind them, Blummenfelt and Casper Stornes(NOR) led the chasers, never allowing the Brit to break away.
Lap after lap, hill after hill, the group saw constant essays to break away, but all of them with no luck. First it was Blummenfetl trying to open a gap, helped by Iden. Next lap it was Leo Bergere (FRA), and in the following one Jonas Schomburg gave it a try. But on the bell lap, the huge group was still riding together, saving some legs for the 10km run under the sun.
With a group of more than 30 athletes entering the T2 together, quickly after transition Jonny Brownlee and Kristian Blummenfelt positioned themselves ahead, but were quickly followed by Iden and Bence Bicsak (HUN). And when it looked like Jonny and Kristian were going to sprint until the end, the younger Norwegian, Iden, added an extra gear to his pace and flew past them.
The distance kept increasing, while Brownlee and Blummenfelt managed to leave Bicsakc behind just in the last kilometer, knowing that the medals will be decided among them. All smiles, Iden crossed the finish line with the fastest run split of the day, to stop the clock on 1h49’48’‘, to claim his second World Cup win of his career, and the second podium of the season after his third place in WTS Bermuda.
And sprinting in the last meters, Brownlee grabbed the silver medal, with Blummenfelt crossing the finish line in third place. Bicsak claimed the fourth place and fifth was Joric Van Egdom (NED), after one of his best swims ever.
“I didn’t feel quite alright on the bike course today, but that allowed me to save some energy for the run, which I think was a good thing today”, said Iden after the race. “And then I felt so great in the run. The pace was too slow at the start, and the coach told me that the guys behind us were catching up, so I just had to put the extra gear on. And when I saw that no one else was following I thought that this was the race to win”, he explained.
Brownlee seemed delighted with his second place. “I came here to win and to enjoy racing again and I certainly enjoyed it. I felt good in the run, I thought Kristian was going to go hard but then I saw another Norwegian passing and I thought ‘oh, here we go’. but I had fun, and really enjoyed it. I made a few mistakes, I dropped all my gels, but I love racing, and I love racing to win and to enjoy it. I train very hard to then enjoy races, and this was perfect for that. Here there were attacks, tactics, tough hills… and that’s what we are here for. This is the first time I’ve been here as a senior, and Lausanne is just fantastic. It’s a beautiful city, a tough course, lots of spectators… When I heard there was a World Cup here I thought ‘I wanna race here, this is the perfect venue for triathlon’”, he said.
Blummenfelt also recognized the hard course in Lausanne, but also enjoyed it. “It was a very tough course, especially on the bike, so it feels great to be on the podium. I knew that Gustav was gonna be hard to beat on the run, he’s been running really well lately, but I was able to keep the third place. Team Norway has had some up and downs this seasons, but we have been able to get some good results”, he said.
Results: Elite Men
1. Gustav Iden NORNOR Flag 01:49:48
2. Jonathan Brownlee GBRGBR Flag 01:50:19
3. Kristian Blummenfelt NORNOR Flag 01:50:24
4. Bence Bicsák HUNHUN Flag 01:50:47
5. Jorik Van Egdom NEDNED Flag 01:51:06