Jeanne Lehair of Luxembourg held strong to win the Europe Triathlon Championships, which was changed to a duathlon due to the quality of the water, after kicking clear of German Lisa Tertsch in the final straight of the run.
Lehair, who has had a tremendous week after finishing fifth at WTCS Cagliari last Saturday, proved that she is an athlete for the future with a brilliant performance against a strong field.
Tertsch finished as the runner up, with Switzerland’s Cathia Schär, who worked tirelessly in the breakaway on the bike, claiming third place.
Run – Big group into transition
With no swim in Madrid, the race instead began with a shorter run, before continuing the traditional Olympic distance format of a 40km bike followed by a 10km run.
Over the first run, a big group of athletes including all of the pre-race favourites ran together, with the pace quick but not quite fast enough to break up the main group.
In that group were the likes of World Junior Champion Tilda Mansson of Sweden, who won that title after the race was also switched to a duathlon, World U23 Champion Kate Waugh of Great Britain, who recently finished fifth at WTCS Yokohama, and Spaniard Miriam Casillas Garcia.
By the time the athletes came into transition to begin the bike, there were only 20 athletes in the front pack, which was led by Tertsch and Casillas Garcia, with Brits Waugh, Sian Rainsley and Olivia Mathias just making it on to the back of the leaders.
Bike – Schär pushes the pace as gaps emerge
Over the first couple of laps, the stronger cyclists pushed hard to whittle down the group, with Rainsley and Mansson dropping off as Schär of Switzerland rode hard at the front. Elsewhere, Maya Kingma of the Netherlands bridged up to the front pack after a slow transition.
On the infamous Madrid climb, a group of seven women broke away towards the end of the bike, with Swiss athlete Schär, still an U23 athlete, responsible for setting the quick tempo which only the likes of Casillas Garcia, Lehair of Luxembourg and a handful of others could contend with.
Into transition, Schär of Switzerland led the way, alongside Spaniard Casillas Garcia, Lehair, Germans Tertsch and Tanja Neubert, France’s Audrey Merle and Petra Kurikova of the Czech Republic, with the winner and podium set to be decided out on the run course.
Behind, Waugh and Clare Michel of Belgium were the next into transition, close to 90 seconds down on the front pack, leaving the pair and the rest of the chasers a lot of work to do if they had any aspirations of making the podium.
Run – Lehair wins it
Out of the gates, Lehair immediately took to the front of the race as she dropped everyone except for Tertsch, who tracked her stride for stride through the entirety of the first lap of the run.
Throughout the rest of the race, Lehair and Tertsch were inseparable, as the pair battled it out on the streets of Madrid, well clear of the rest of the field, with neither woman giving an inch to the other as they entered the final stretch neck and neck.
As the finishing line beckoned, Lehair edged ahead, and with a final kick gapped Tertsch, and the German, despite her best efforts, couldn’t respond, with an emotional Lehair taking the tape. Tertsch, home in second, came just short after a brilliant battle, with Schär third.
Europe Triathlon Championships Madrid 2023 Results
Sunday 4 June 2023 – Duathlon
- 1. Jeanne Lehair (LUX) – 1:59:52
- 2. Lisa Tertsch (GER) – 1:59:59
- 3. Cathia Schär (SUI) – 2:00:10
- 4. Tanja Neubert (GER) – 2:00:34
- 5. Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP) – 2:00:53
- 6. Petra Kurikova (CZE) – 2:01:18
- 7. Audrey Merle (FRA) – 2:01:32
- 8. Kate Waugh (GBR) – 2:02:06
- 9. Maria tome (POR) – 2:03:05
- 10. Clare Michel (BEL) – 2:03:17