Ironman African Championships
Lucy Charles-Barclay opened up her 2019 campaign in fine style with an emphatic win at the Ironman African Championships in Nelson Mandela Bay and successfully defend her continental title. With rough surf conditions out in Hobie Beach, the swim leg was shortened to around half distance, partially negating Lucy's incredible power in the water.
She emerged with a slender margin over Lauren Brandon (USA) and the pair then battled it out throughout the bike element before being caught and passed by Anja Ippach (Germany), who put in a stunning ride to first catch and then pass Charles-Barclay and Brandon. Whilst her bike leg might have been sub-par by her incredibly high standards, Lucy's marathon was stunning - finishing in 2:59:33, her first sub-3 hour Ironman run - to take the win and immediately confirm her Kona place.
After an injury hit 2018, Nils Frommhold bounced back with a strong 2nd place finish in the men's event, a race that he'd won previously back in 2014. A brilliant swim set the scene for the German triathlete, before racing in a foursome that included Maurice Clavel, Andreas Dreitz and Ben Hoffmann for much of the bike leg. Hoffman was able to distance the others on the final run to T2 and held on to his advantage until the finish. Behind, Nils closed with a 2:43:43 marathon to claim the runner-up spot.
Ronde van Vlanderen
Bigla Team's Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig notched up a superb third place finish at Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday. A traditionally tough race, De Ronde lived up to it's reputation, with the final 45km particularly savage with a number of attacks being launched. Cille tried her hand with 15km, before being involved in a tight sprint with Marta Bastianelli (Team Virtu Cycling) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott). The result was not only an outstanding result for Uttrup Ludwig, but the entire team who supported their leader flawlessly throughout.
Cecilie Uttrip Ludwig:
Today's race was a fantastic experience. My teammates supported me so well the whole day. And Thomas Campana, our Team Manager, motivated me from the team car, and that was a huge help. The atmosphere in the team was excellent and without question everyone did their best today. We knew that the Hotond climb would be very hard, and attacks just followed after attacks. And then on the Kwaremont the race exploded. It was really nice to be able to animate the race. I would not have achieved this podium place without my teammates and the staff in the team, and I'm really thankful for their work.
Movistar Team Women's Flandrian adventures were brought to a crashing end as first Sheyla Gutiérrez and then Aude Biannic were wiped out in crashes which scuppered any chances of bettering Małgorzata Jasińska's top ten finish in 2018.
Over in the men's race, the evergreen Alejandro Valverde showed off the World Champs stripes with an outstanding debut(!), a few weeks shy of his 39th birthday. Ably supported by Jasha Sütterlin, Nelson Oliveira and Lluís Mas, Valverde looks at ease with the cobbles and bergs, riding alongside the big names of the cobbled classics and looked better with each passing km. Next year?
Trofeo Villa de Noja
A trio of Movistar Team riders took the start in the fourth round of the Copa de España with Lourdes Oyarbide, Lorena Llamas and Paula Patiño outnumbered by several others squads, but were still able to place Patiño on the podium in 3rd and Llamas two spots behind to successfully hold on to their leads in the U23 and elite series rankings.
GP Miguel Indurain
A week of intense racing in the Basque Country got underway with the GP Miguel Indurain over a tough 193km parcours that wound around the Navarran countryside near Estella in a tribute to Eusebio Unzué’s Abarca Sports organisation in their 40th year. Carlos Verona showed that he's in fine form ahead of Iztulia Basque Country.