The 2021 European Triathlon Championships took place in Valencia, Spain over the weekend, with the Elite Men and Women racing on Saturday afternoon.
The flat, eight-lap bike course was never likely to assist much in terms of breakaway potential, with both of the Elite races being decided over the closing 10km runs.
Dorian Coninx (FRA) added to his win at WTCS Montreal with a European Championship title, with Julie Derron (SUI) repeating the form she showed two weeks ago in Karlovy Vary to win again. She was previously a European Champion at U23 level (2018) and over the sprint distance format in 2019.
Sian Rainsley makes podium
Top British finisher, and completing the podium with a bronze medal was Sian Rainsley, who had to battle the full run distance with Paulina Klimas (POL), before finally pulling clear with the finish line in sight.
Sian recently updated on her fifth place ‘mega day’ at WTCS Hamburg, and here is how Saturday’s race in Valencia went from her perspective.
The swim – a perfect start
“I came to Valencia straight from a good result in Hamburg so was using that confidence for this race. The swim went amazingly. I got clear water straight away and was able to get away from the field with just one other athlete.
“It was really unusual, I could see the Italian [Bianca Seregni] about 15 seconds in front of me but couldn’t bridge up, while also being aware I had an even bigger gap to the chase behind. I was swimming in no-man’s land!
“It was great though, I could take the buoys well and just swim to my own 1500m pace. Exiting the water, I had around 30-seconds advantage over the pack. “
The bike – tougher than it looked
“T1 was smooth, with no panic thanks to the comfortable lead. I knew I wouldn’t stay away for 40km by myself in those windy conditions, so I just rode to a solid tempo and prepared myself for the group. A good splash of cold water from my bottle and I was ready.
“The bike was way harder than I thought it would be. For an out-and-back it was pretty technical with a roundabout and quite a few flowing corners, meaning the pack kept stringing out. The pace was on and we managed to gain two minutes over the chase group by dismount.”
A tactical run
“I got onto the run positioned well, but I could tell I didn’t quite feel as bouncy as I usually do. I made the decision to let the front two run away. I did this as it was really hot, around 28 degrees, and I knew if I kept going as hard as I was, I would pop!
“I was then in a group of around five. I surged a little to try and split the group and at 3km I was running by myself in third place. About 500m later, much to my horror, a Polish athlete had bridged the gap back to me. I knew then, this would be the battle between third and fourth all the way to the finish.
“I tried to be tactical, sitting in for the headwinds and saving as much energy for the later stages of the run as I could. I wasn’t feeling my best and knew this would be my only way of reaching the podium. The final 2km she gave a few surges and attempts at dropping me; I was hurting but didn’t want to show this so reacted as best as I could.
“We took the final dead turn and it was 300m to the finish line. I kicked here and dug with whatever I had left… third! I did it, I got the podium I so badly wanted.
“Thanks to all the GB supporters out on the course, it really helped!”
Europe Triathlon Championships 2021 Valencia Results
1.5km / 38km / 10km
1st – Julie Derron (SUI) – 1:51:43
2nd – Annika Koch (GER) – 1:52:08
3rd – Sian Rainsley (GBR) – 1:52:19
4th – Paulina Klimas (POL) – 1:52:23
5th – Kate Waugh (GBR) – 1:53:15
20th – Sophie Alden (GBR) – 1:55:28
DNF – Sophia Green (GBR)
1st – Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 1:41:03
2nd – Roberto Sanchez Mantecon (ESP) – 1:41:22
3rd – Antonio Serrat Seoane (ESP) – 1:41:41
4th – Sergio Baxter Cabrera (ESP) – 1:41:48
5th – Tom Richard (FRA) – 1:41:57
23rd – Grant Sheldon (GBR) – 1:43:53
27th – Cameron Main (GBR) – 1:44:23
30th – Jack Willis (GBR) – 1:45:05
DNF – Conor Bentley (GBR)