India Lee | European Triathlon Championships Race Report
This year’s European Triathlon Championships were held in Kitzbuhel, Austria. The most picturesque venue to hold a race, a beautiful alpine lake with 360 degree Instagram-worthy views! I went into the race as defending champion which means I have race start number 1. This gave me first pick of start position on the pontoon along with prime position in the transition.
Last year the European’s were one of my season highlights, I got in a breakaway, and thanks to a team effort I was able to stay away and take the win. This year it was my turn to contribute by making sure my team mates had the best chance to secure another win for Great Britain.
I had a strong swim hitting the water first and coming out in 6th position, just 15 seconds down from the chasing group behind my team mate Jess Learmonth. Out on the bike course I was riding with an athlete from Switzerland we had earmarked as one we didn’t want in the front pack due to her running capabilities. After a few attempts to jump across, the Swiss athlete was just about staying with me each time on every lap. I decided to sit in to let the gap grow out to give my two British team mates up the road a cushion on the run.
With me not chasing, the gap grew to over 2 minutes long where my main focus was onto having a strong run. Out of transition 2, I went straight to the front of the chase pack and pushed on to chase down a bronze medal. Feeling good for the first 4K, the wheels came off and I was cooked! Resulting in a lack of consistency in the last couple of months due to a lingering virus which really took its toll on me in the last part of the race – you can’t get away with racing for 2 hours at this level when not fully fit.
A frustrating day out personally, however I’m proud with the decision I made, proving I can make constructive decisions under pressure. The outcome we wanted happened leading two of my British team mates to podium – first and second… job done!
The European Championship weekend is always topped off with the Mixed Team Relay. The newest event to be added to the Olympic timetable – a decision made due to the fast and furious nature of the event that keeps the crowd entertained.
In a nutshell the mixed team relay is raced in teams of 4: 2 Men and 2 Women. Each racing in the order of Girl Boy Girl Boy over a mini triathlon. The distances were 250m swim, 5km bike and 1.8km run. Each leg takes a mere 20 minutes, there’s a lot of chopping and changing of the leader and everyone is flat out from the gun.
I was part of the GB team who finished 5th along with Sophie Coldwell, Doug Roberts and James Teagle. Coming away in the position I did two days before from the Elite Senior Women’s race I felt the mixed team relay was another shot to give it my all for GB that weekend.
I went off on the 3rd leg, we were in the top 15 on my changeover, however with my use of power and speed I came out of the water a place up, took 40 seconds out of the bike course, caught the chase group up on my own and ran us down to fourth place on the run through to James Teagle waiting for me on the pontoon. The mixed team relay is such a great fun way of racing, the crowd really gets involved and it’s a great addition to the Olympic program – so look out for it!!