The rain and the cold in Kitzbuhel couldn’t prevent Nicola Spirig from winning her 4th European gold in Austria. Friday’s day of racing saw the 2012 Olympic Champ, who’s since become a mum, record her first elite win of the 2014 season.
The wetsuit swim saw five girls, including defending champion Rachel Klamer (NED), break away. Halfway through the bike a lead group, including Spirig, in increasingly tricky, wet conditions, which saw a number of athletes DNFing to seek some warmth in the medical tent.
The run would be all decisive and Nicola Spirig immediately tried to break away. The Swiss olympic champion was racing her first elite international race of the season but proved to be in good shape, although she suffered from cramps and a stitch going into the last run lap with the young German, Sophia Saller, held Nicola in her sight throughout the run. The gap was only 12 seconds. Annamaria Mazzetti was running strong in third.
In the last lap Nicola Spirig ran towards her first big win of the season, claiming a fourth European crown. Behind her Sophia Saller took silver in her first ever olympic distance elite race and Mazzetti was happy to win her 2nd bronze medal since 2011, after coming 4th last time.
Return to the top
Olympic champion Spirig was thrilled to be back on the highest level. “It was a great race for me. I had a good swim and was happy to catch the lead girls in the 2nd lap on the bike. I worked hard on the bike today. I was happy to catch up, but then it got so cold that I couldn’t sit back. I was so cold and still had to work to try to keep warm. That made it hard and gave me cramps at the end. Therefore I decided to run as fast as I can. It’s amazing to finish here as the European champion.”
“Only in the last 500 meters I started to relax, knowing that the gap was big enough. I am so happy with my 4th European title. Will I be back for a 5th one? Let’s see what happens… It’s not easy being a mother now, but my son and my family mean so much to me.”
Image: Janos Schmidt/ITU