By Merryn Sherwood on 29/07/12 at 9:00 pm
A killer bike leg helped Caroline Steffen to her second ITU Long Distance World Triathlon Championship, as she turned a lead at T2 into a world title winning margin ahead of Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen and Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Steffen - who also won in 2010 - paid tribute to the Spanish crowd, as thousands lined the streets to cheer on the elite and age-group athletes in Spain’s basque country.
“Of course I’m very happy, it’s another title, my second one, I’m really glad I had a good race today,” she said. “I never saw as many people on a race course before. It was unbelievable on the bike and on the run.”
The eventual medallists emerged right from the start in Spain, as Swallow exited the water first, with Pedersen and Steffen just a few minutes behind. While Swallow pushed the pace at the front for the first lap, Steffen took the lead at the start of the second 60km lap and didn’t look back. She left T2 with a six minute lead on the field, and with the third-fastest run split of the day, it was more than enough to hold on to win. Steffen crossed the line for gold in a time of 6 hours 4 minutes and 17 seconds, a full five minutes ahead of Denmark’s Pedersen who claimed her first World Championship medal.
The 2011 ETU Long Distance European champion was sitting in third leaving T2, but overtook a slowing Swallow at the 24 kilometre mark of the 30km run. It was another impressive result for Pedersen in just her second full year competing at the elite level, and she said she just tried to stick to her race plan.
“I felt a little bit tired in the beginning and I tried hard to push it on the bike, but I just had to keep my own pace and stick to my own plan,” she said. “Even though I couldn’t keep the push that I wanted, I kept going and on the run I just had really really great legs and so I just kept going and going and it was just awesome….I just want to say thanks to the crowd, they really made a difference.”
Swallow was one of three previous title winners in the field, but said her bronze medal marked an important point in her comeback from severe plantar fasciitis, particularly as the 30km leg was the longest she has completed in a race.
“It was very hard, everything hurts at the moment especially when you are not totally ready for it, so I’m happy with a podium today,” Swallow said. “I did well, I did the best I could for me today. Caroline had an amazing race and it was a tough course, but a brilliant course, the support out there was brilliant.”
Spain’s Virginia Berasategi posted the fastest run split of the day, a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 34 seconds, to finish fourth, while her teammate Maider Gaztañaga Dorronsoro finished fifth.
|4.||Virginia Berasategi Luna||ESP||06:20:36|
|5.||Maider Gaztañaga Dorronsoro||ESP||06:23:52|
|9.||Gurutze Frades Larralde||ESP||06:45:38|
|10.||Estefania Gomez Villanueva||ESP||06:47:13|
Find more details about this event - 2012 Vitoria-Gasteiz ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships