The stunning setting of Blenheim Palace played host to the first round of the 2013 British Triathlon Super Series. The ninth running of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon saw Olympian Vicky Holland battle to victory in the finishing straight, while three-time World Championship medallist Tom Bishop proved his fitness in his first race of 2013, by leading the race from the beginning of the cycle section and holding off all chasers.
The ladies race featured two London 2012 Olympians, as South Africa’s Gillian Sanders – the 2011 Blenheim winner – joined Holland along with the lady expected to feature very strongly, recent convert to triathlon from a track and cross country running background, Emma Pallant.
While this trio were part of a large chase group on the bike, the pace at the front was being set by Natalie Milne and Jess Learmonth who both swam and cycled exceptionally to build a lead of close to half a minute before T2. Once on the run, the three pre-race favourites were able to pass Milne and Learmonth, with Pallant having to work a little harder to make up for a slow second transition, reflecting her relative inexperience in the sport.
Midway through lap two it was clear that the win would come from either Holland or Pallant, and when Emma moved to the front in the final kilometre, her running pedigree looked all set to give her a breakthrough victory. Holland didn’t give up though, and approaching the finishing straight the pair was side-by-side again and it was Holland who had more to give, crossing the line to take first place. Pallant followed seconds later, with Sanders third, Milne fourth and a fine fifth place for Jess Learmonth.
“It was a great feeling to be back on form racing again. I wanted to race Blenheim as it’s such an iconic UK race, it’s super challenging and, with a great setting, what more can you ask for?” said Holland after the race.
The men’s race was a little clearer, with Bishop swimming well and exiting the water with Richard Stannard and then making up some time on the notoriously tough and long transition at Blenheim. He was quickly on his bike alone, and despite a large pack chasing, remained that way until collecting his first win at Blenheim. Behind Tom, Andrew Christy produced the best run from the chase pack to take second place, while the Junior pair from Optima Racing Team in London, Luke Penney and Rory Atkins, showed no fear against the seniors and finished third and fourth, with Stannard rounding out the top five.
Like Holland, Bishop was full of praise for the Blenheim venue, “Blenheim Palace Triathlon is always a quality event and as the first race of the season I think it went pretty well! I’m already really looking forward to my next race.”
The second British Triathlon Super Series event takes place this coming weekend, Sunday 16th June at the Toshiba Windsor Triathlon, the event also incorporating the British Elite Standard Distance Championships.
For more detail on the British Triathlon Super Series, visit http://www.britishtriathlon.org/superseries.
For more details on the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon, visit http://www.theblenheimtriathlon.com.
For more detail on the Toshiba Windsor Triathlon, visit http://humanrace.co.uk/events/triathlon/windsor-triathlon