Spain’s Javier Gomez claimed his third European title after a storming performance in Israel, sending out a warning shot to his competitors ahead of the Olympics in London.
Maximilian Schwetz of Germany led the race out of the water, but it was Russian Dmitriy Polyansky that was first out of T1, leading a large group that contained most of the favourites.
Anton Chuchko made a move early on the bike, and managed to get a 6sec lead over a group of 15 athletes, including Sven Riederer and Joao Silva. But he soon dropped back into the pack, and Ivan Rana and Ivan Vasiliev made the next move, gaining a 7sec lead.
By halfway through the bike leg, strong winds had whipped up, and the leaders dropped back into the pack. The second chase group also caught up the head of the race was now a group of over 30 athletes.
On the final lap, and despite a break attempt by Andreas Schilling, the field ended up going into T2 together.
Out onto the run, and Gomez soon picked up the pace, gaining 10secs on Tony Moulai in second place. Entering the final lap, disaster struck Moulai, who had to serve a time penalty for failing to put his swim cap in the box in T1.
But Gomez proved untouchable, and came home in 1:55:48,20secs ahead of Alexander Bryukhankov, who in turn was 34secs ahead of fellow countryman Vasiliev.
SPIRIG WINS SPRINT FINISH
In the women’s race, Nicola Spirig outran Ainhoa Murua in an incredible sprint finish, in a repeat of the finish at the Sydney ITU race the week before.
Out of the water, it was GB’s Lucy Hall the lead the field, followed by Jessica Harrison. Out of T1 a pack of 10 leaders formed, including Hall, Camila Pederson and Helle Frederiksen of Denmark, GB’s Vanessa Raw and Murua. A chase pack developed, but a puncture for protagonist Mateja Simic on the fifth lap cost them the chance to catch up.
In T2, Spirig dropped her bike shoe and lost a few seconds, and Harrison made it out of transition first ahead of a small group containing Murua, Spiring and Emmie Charayron.
On the final lap, Spirig and Murua surged and went head-to-head all the way to the line, culminating in a sprint finish, just as in Sydney, but this time they were racing for first place, not fifth. It was Spirig who took the win, pulling away in the last hundred metres to take her third European title.
1.5km swim | 40km bike | 10km run
1 Javier Gomez, ESP 1:55:48
2 Alexander Bryukhankov, RUS 1:56:08
3 Ivan Vasiliev, RUS 1:56:42
4 Tony Moulai, FRA 1:56:47
5 Alessandro Fabian, ITA 1:56:48
1 Nicola Spirig, SWI 2:07:11
2 Ainhoa Murua, ESP 2:07:20
3 Emmie Charayon, FRA 2:07:56
4 Jessica Harrison, FRA 2:08:27
5 Vendule Frintova, CZE 2:09:00