Great Britain’s Emma Pallant earned herself the ultimate birthday present by defending her ITU Duathlon World Championship title in impressive style in Aviles, Spain on Saturday. South Africa’s Richard Murray showed that his recovery from a broken collarbone is on track by taking the Elite Men’s victory
At times the expectation of being the race favourite and defending champion can be a difficult pressure to bear. If there was any pressure, it certainly wasn’t a burden to Emma Pallant on Saturday. Following a tactical script to perfection, she pulled away with 2.5km of the final run remaining to take a second consecutive title in clinical style.
Cruising through the opening 10km, Pallant stayed with the leading group, which by T2 had reduced in size to five athletes; Pallant joined by Andrea Steyn (RSA), Margarita Garcia Canellas (ESP), Lisa Perterer (GER) and Sandrina Illes (AUT). In her first international Elite race since 2008, Michelle Dillon was two minutes further back and looked set to form part of the main chasing group.
Working well, the leading five were never threatened and arriving in close order to T2, it was going to be a case of five athletes chasing three medals - though in truth Pallant always looked set to strike out for Gold. Steyn and Canellas would prove her closest competition, but with 2.5km remaining she increased her pace starting the final run lap and the battle for Gold was effectively over. With a large British support in Spain, Pallant was able to enjoy a relaxed birthday jog and celebrations on the finish line.
“I never feel safe on the bike, I don’t quite quite relax until I’ve got my running shoes on, but I’m so happy to defend my title!”
After a horrible cramp at the dismount line in T2, Michelle Dillon managed to get back running and come home in 11th position in her return, seeming to enjoy the support from an extensive crowd all around the course.
The Elite men’s race was a fast pace from the outset with Great Britain’s reigning national Duathlon Champion Richard Horton among those being very aggressive which saw a high class group of ten athletes reach T1 together, including South Africa’s World Triathlon Series star, Richard Murray, Emilio Martin (USA) and Jorik Van Egdom (NED).
The other British athletes of Carl Avery, Philip Wylie, Danny Russell and Daniel Jenkin all reached transition together, one minute back and would form part of the first chase group.
The relentless pace continued on the bike, with Horton looking strong until cramps in the later stages saw him lose time to what would be a group of five at T2. That would soon force him out of the race.
Richard Murray was exceptional over the early stages of the run, quickly gaining a substantial lead, which made his final 2.5km appear to be a lap of honour. Martin and Van Egdom would take Silver and Bronze respectively, the talented Dutch athlete also earning the Under-23 title in the process.
Thanks to an impressive sprint finish Carl Avery had the honour of first British athlete home in tenth position.
With live TV coverage, a multi-lap course and a large number of spectators it was an enjoyable day. Two Gold and one Silver medal from four races made it a successful one for the British Elite team too, thanks to Alex Yee and Kate Waugh.
2016 Aviles ITU Duathlon World Championships; 4 June 2016; 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run; Senior elite results:
1. Emma Pallant, GBR, 1:56:45
2. Andrea Steyn, RSA, 1:56:52
3. Margarita Garcia Cañellas, ESP, 1:57:17
11. Michelle Dillon, GBR, 2:03:22
1. Richard Murray, RSA, 1:42:18
2. Emilio Martin, ESP, 1:42:35
3. Jorik Van Egdom, NED, 1:42:41
10. Carl Avery, GBR, 1:45:36
19. Philip Wylie, GBR, 1:46:18
21. Danny Russell, GBR, 1:46:33
25. Daniel Jenkin, GBR, 1:47:44
Richard Horton, GBR, DNF