Lisbon, Portugal (May 10, 2008) - The Portuguese had plenty to cheer about today in Lisbon as the country's favorite daughter Vanessa Fernandes won a record-breaking fifth consecutive European Championship. In all it was her seventh European crown as she also owns a junior and under23 title. Italian veteran Nadia Cortassa took the silver, her fourth career medal at European championships. Swede Lisa Norden continued her breakthrough season with the bronze.
Joelle Franzmann of Germany led the women out of the water with the day's fastest swim. She left T1 alone but her solo ride on the flat 40-kilometer bike course did not last long as the chase pack quickly caught up. Not far behind was Swiss cycling powerhouse Nicola Spirig who brought herself and four others up with the leaders.
The front group of 18 women rode well together and maintained a minute advantage over the first chase pack. Olympic champion and last year's silver medalist Kate Allen struggled. After trailing by almost a minute and a half after the swim, she lost time with every lap on the bike. By the halfway mark she was two and a half minutes behind the leader.
Into T2, the lead group contained most of the pre-race favorites including Fernandes, Spirig, Norden and the Germans Franzmann and Christiane Pilz. Allen continued to struggle as she came off the bike more than four and half minutes behind.
Out onto the flat and fast 10-kilometer run course, Fernandes immediately set a torrid pace and surged to the lead. After just the first lap of 2.5 kilometers, she had already opened up a 23-second gap. While she tore through the run towards an inevitable victory, Spirig, Norden, Franzmann and Cortassa stayed together in the fight for the podium. Fernandes coasted to the finish line to claim her historic fifth consecutive European crown.
In the final kilometer, Cortassa pulled away to secure silver. Norden and Spirig locked horns in a sprint finish with the Swede edging ahead for the final podium spot and her first European championships medal.
Franzmann was fifth to stake her claim to the final spot on the German Olympic team as she was ahead of teammate Pilz who finished 13th. Other notables include Di marco who finished 15th and Allen who came across in 30th spot.
2008 Lisbon ETU Triathlon European Championships
Final Results - Elite Women
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Gold - Fernandes, Vanessa (POR) 2:05:46
Silver - Cortassa, Nadia (ITA) 2:06:25
Bronze - Norden, Lisa (SWE) 2:06:44
4th - Spirig, Nicola (SUI) 2:06:44
5th - Franzmann, Joelle (GER) 2:06:47
6th - Vodickova, Radka (CZE) 2:07:05
7th - Dollinger, Eva (AUT) 2:07:10
8th - Ryf, Daniela (SUI) 2:07:25
9th - Harrison, Jessica (FRA) 2:07:38
10th - Abyssova, Irina (RUS) 2:08:04
photo Getty Images