A week on from racing in Quarteira, Portugal, the ETU Triathlon European Cup circuit moved on to Melilla, Spain.
Shortly after the Elite Women’s race (won by Cassandre Beaugrand), France were also starting with strong chances for the men. In Dorian Coninx and Tom Richard, they were starting with the highest ranked athletes today. They duly delivered, but had a British athlete on hand to prevent it being another one-two for Les Bleus.
Once again, it was duathlon rather than triathlon format, thanks to the weather conditions on the North African coast.
Run #1: Coninx sets the pace
Just as with the women’s race, where Cassandra Beaugrand set the opening tempo, it was a French athlete doing the same for the men. This time it was Dorian Coninx – WTCS Montreal winner last year and the reigning European Champion.
Unlike Cassandre however, the depth of field in the men’s race would see around 20 athletes return to T1 in as many seconds, resulting in a large leading group heading out onto the flat and fast 20km bike course.
That opening run would leave lactic in the legs, but it wasn’t going to determine today’s winner.
Bike: A breakaway? Not today
Pan flat, it was no surprise that the bike route would not of itself split up the field. The pace was on however, and the passage of time would see the impacts of that effort gradually start to see riders falling away. Still, the leading pack was a big one and we were set to see a mass of athletes descend on T2 together. Around 30 athletes headed out onto the run course within 10 seconds.
That final 5km run would determine the winner in Melilla – would Dorian Coninx, the top-ranked athlete in the race repeat the strength he showed over the opening run to make it a French win double?
Run: It’s France…again
Coninx was indeed the first athlete to the fore, but Great Britain’s Barclay Izzard was quick to join him within the first kilometre, as Tom Richard (FRA) – recent Europe Triathlon Award winner – put in a strong effort to make it three at the front.
The leading three were 15 seconds clear at the end of the first run lap. With 2.5km to go there was nothing between them – but Coninx was looking in control. The most decorated athlete in the race, he was of course expected to match his finishing position to his bib #1.
Izzard was working hard, one of a large group of athletes perhaps having their eyes on securing the third and final Team England Commonwealth Games squad slot, alongside Alex Yee and Jonny Brownlee. Tom Richard moved to the front with a mile to go – but was he aware that he would have a penalty to serve for, we assume, an infringement in T2?
At the final u-turn, Coninx raised his pace significantly but Izzard was digging deep to try and react. He almost made it back to the shoulder of the Frenchman, before Dorian found another gear and pulled away shortly before the finish, to take the win.
Tom Richard had a nervous wait – the penalty box was just metres away from the blue finishing carpet – but he had built enough of a gap to hold on to third place.
A great day for France, with two gold, one silver and one bronze from the two senior Elite races.
ETU Triathlon European Cup Melilla Results:
Sunday 3 April 2022
2km run / 20km bike / 5km run
- 1. Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 47:26
- 2. Barclay Izzard (GBR) – 47:28
- 3. Tom Richard (FRA) – 47:46
- 4. Ricardo Batista (POR) – 47:52
- 5. Lasse Lührs (GER) – 47:53
- 18. Dominic Coy (GBR) – 48:38
- 33. Iestyn Harrett (GBR) – 49:42
- 40. Frederik Webb (GBR) – 50:32
- 54. Cameron Harris (GBR) – 51:39