Elite Gold in Lisbon as India Lee produces a stunning performance to win European Championship title
It was a great day for Great Britain’s Elite athletes today. With India Lee taking gold in the elite women’s event, only a close sprint finish prevented Samuel Dickinson adding a second British Gold in the junior men’s race, which still provided a silver lining.
Three weeks ago in Italy, Great Britain’s India Lee took the biggest win of her career to date, winning the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup. Today in Lisbon, she surpassed that to become the ETU Elite Triathlon European Champion.
Lucy Hall set the pace during the opening 1.5km swim in typical style, covering the course in 17:55, with Lee 46 seconds back in 18th position. Her weakest discipline, that still represented a solid start for the in-form athlete who has made significant gains over the past 12 months in the water. Jessica Learmonth (18:08) and Heather Sellars (18:28) had also started well.
Hall has used her swim-bike prowess to great success recently on the ETU European Cup circuit and followed the same script today. This time Lee was able to overcome her swim deficit, drop the rest of the field and join her team mate at the front of the race as the British pairing rode strongly and bravely to build a lead for the run. By the time they left T2 to start the 10km run, they had built a lead of 90 seconds.
That effort would be rewarded in fine style. With a huge group chasing, Lee held her nerve and form to secure a stunning victory, able to enjoy the finishing straight and come home to Gold ahead of Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) and Zsofia Kovacs (HUN). While Hall would finish the day tenth, she could be proud of her efforts today. Sellars was able to run through seventh while Learmonth had a crossed the line 20th.
Lee was delighted with her victory commenting: “It feels amazing to be European Champion although I am not sure it’s sunk in yet. I came out the swim behind the main group and worked really hard on the bike to get back to the lead group before pushing hard on the run for the win. On the third lap, I really began to feel the effort I had made on the bike!
“It was great racing here in Lisbon, there were so many British age-groupers around the course, the support was amazing. There is a great atmosphere around all the athletes and support staff here, a really strong team spirit.”
With all three British Rio 2016 Olympic athletes absent and Jodie Stimpson also a late withdrawal with a chest infection, it was another measure of the current strength-in-depth of the British woman’s squad without its four highest profile athletes.
There was further British medal success in the junior men’s race where Samuel Dickinson lost out on the Gold medal by just one second to Spain’s Javier Lluch Perez, the race coming down to a battle over the final 5km run as a group of 17 athletes reached T2 together in close order. The Spanish athlete just took the honours in a sprint finish in the MEO Arena.
Part of the second group starting the run, Alex Yee once again showed his exceptional run speed to set the fastest split of the day by almost 40 seconds to move up to fifth at the finish, just ahead of fellow Brit Jack Willis in sixth.
Of his race, Samuel Dickinson said, “The run was fast from the off; I like to take it out, I like to lead. I had a plan, I did my best to execute that plan but unfortunately when it came to the end, the better man won on the day. Congratulations to him, it was an excellent sprint finish. I’ll learn from this and I’ll hopefully come back stronger.”
Absent from racing for most of the season to date, Spanish legend Javier Gomez showed that his road to Rio is certainly still on track with a dominating victory in the men’s elite race, earning a fourth European Championship title at this distance to add to his record-breaking five ITU World Championship victories.
Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) dominated on the run to take a clear victory and the gold medal in the elite junior event. Sian Rainsley was the first British athlete in seventh position.
Brendan Purcell, British Triathlon’s Performance Director added: “India delivered a really impressive race today. She has been working incredibly hard over the winter and has learnt a lot from Non, Vicky and Helen since racing alongside them in the Rio test event last year. She had a very smart race today and it will be exciting to see what the future holds.
“It’s great for the future to have so many top-15 performances in the junior races, Sam Dickinson looked really strong throughout the race and was rewarded his silver medal. I am really proud of all the team including all the support staff who have done a great job throughout the day.”
The final day of competition in Lisbon will see the Age-Group Standard Distance and the Elite Mixed Relays take place on Sunday, bringing the 2016 ETU Triathlon European Championships to a close.
ETU Triathlon European Championships – Saturday 28 May 2016
ELITE – 1.5km / 40km / 10km
1st – India Lee (GBR) – 2:04:03
2nd – Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) – 2:04:10
3rd – Zsofia Kovacs (HUN) – 2:04:24
7th – Heather Sellars (GBR) – 2:05:04
10th – Lucy Hall (GBR) – 2:05:29
20th – Jessica Learmonth (GBR) – 2:08:36
1st – Javier Gomez (ESP) – 1:49:30
2nd – Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) – 1:50:09
3rd – Andrea Salvisberg (SUI) – 1:50:32
10th – Grant Sheldon (GBR) – 1:51:05
15th – Marc Austin (GBR) – 1:51:49
19th – Thomas Bishop (GBR) – 1:52:09
45th – Morgan Davies (GBR) – 1:58:05
ETU Triathlon European Championships – Saturday 28 May 2016
ELITE JUNIOR – 750m / 20km / 5km
1st – Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 1:02:42
2nd – Lisa Tertsch (GER) – 1:02:53
3rd – Lena Meissner (GER) – 1:03:14
7th – Sian Rainsley (GBR) – 1:04:08
14th – Olivia Matthias (GBR) – 1:04:56
19th – Elisabeth Hood (GBR) – 1:05:38
DNF – Kate Waugh (GBR)
1st – Javier Lluch Perez (ESP) – 58:03
2nd – Samuel Dickinson (GBR) – 58:04
3rd – Emil Deleuran Hansen (DEN) – 58:08
5th – Alex Yee (GBR) – 58:18
6th - Jack Willis (GBR) – 58:25
12th – Alex Chantler Mayne (GBR) – 59:01