While there were no surprises in the women’s race, a 24-year-old Scot ensured the same wasn’t true for the men’s. Stirling-based Ritchie Nicholls started to realise the promise of his youth by taking the biggest victory of his career.
His 1:45:37 was 32secs faster than Adam Bowden and 41secs clear of Brit Matt Sharp.
Before the race a hamstring injury to Chris McCormack meant the crowd were denied an appearance from the current Kona champ. It meant the experienced Stuart Hayes was installed as race favourite.
But despite exiting T2 with a share of the lead, Hayes couldn’t match the run speed of Nicholls and came down in fourth.
There’ll be more from Ritchie on his surprise victory in issue 264 of 220 (out 23 August). For now, here’s our brief post-race interview…
Ritchie, that 29:44min run was astonishing. Were you confident of carving out such a performance?
Not totally. Things have been a bit on and off with illnesses. I was actually sick on Friday night so I wasn’t going to come down here on Saturday, but I’m glad I did now.
Talk us through your victory
I’m not a great swimmer normally but I managed to limit the damages; I’m feeling much stronger in the water at the moment. I came out in the mid-pack. Onto the bike and it was relatively easy in the big lead pack. I tried a few breakaways but nothing more.
And I just settled into the run and here I am.
Do you see this as your breakthrough performance?
I had a few really good races a few years ago [Ritchie won the European U23 Champs in 2007] but since then I’ve struggled to get back. Hopefully this is a new start.
Where are you based?
Up in Stirling. I get great help from all the guys up there, training as I do with the Scottish National Squad. I’m really happy with how things are panning out right now.
What have you been up to this season?
I took a trip out to Asia and got a few solid results there [5th in the ITU Subic Bay Asian Cup and 15th in the ITU Seoul Asian Cup]. And I’ve done a few non-drafting races and got some solid results there, too. I won the 5150 in Zurich earlier in July, too, and did a points race in Geneva last week and had another good result [12th].
What’s left in 2011?
I’ve got a couple of non-drafting races coming up in Chicago and Des Moines, and I hope to get in a few late-season World Cups and maybe a WCS start. But we’ll have to see.