| After exiting the water an unusual 36 seconds back from the leaders, the 2006 world cup series champion, with determination on her face, was able to pull herself up to the lead group and run to gold in a time of 2:04:45. In second place was Michelle Dillon of Great Britain, 1 minute and 21 seconds back. And rounding out the top three was Christiane Pilz of Germany a further 24 seconds behind. |
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With her win, the 21-year old Fernandes moves to the front of the 2007 BG Triathlon World Cup rankings with 149 points.
“To win in your country,” said Fernandes. “Where people can see how you compete and how you race… I am so happy today.”
Seventy-two women dived into the Atlantic Ocean to start the 2007 Lisbon BG Triathlon World Cup under clear skies. From the starting horn it was Jill Savege of Canada, Sarah Haskins of the United States, Julie Swallow of Great Britain, Annabel Luxford of Australia, who would later have to withdraw due to mechanical problems on the bike, and Pilz who jumped to an early lead with Fernandes, Dillon and a number of other top contenders over 30 seconds down.
“I had to push hard today for the first pack,” said the European champion. “Sometimes you are in the front and sometimes you are not. Sometimes you have to put your head down and work hard.”
Out onto the 8-lap, 40 kilometre cycle through the Oriente district of Lisbon, Fernandes would not risk the possibility of losing the front group and was able to bridge the half a minute gap over the first five kilometres by herself. After building a small lead on the chase pack over the first few laps, the lead group would eventually be caught, bringing an enormous peloton of 49 riders together for the second half of the cycle leg. In the closing stages of the bike a crash unfortunately would end any chance for a podium on the day for a number top athletes, including top-ranked Joelle Franzmann of Germany.
Onto the 4-lap, 10 kilometre run course, Fernandes immediately pulled away and never looked back with the fastest run split of the day, 34:21, to claim her 15th world cup title. To the cheers of thousands of spectators in the enclosed stadium finish, Fernandes was embraced by her father, who has only ever seen his daughter race once before, as she crossed the line. Dillon, who managed to come back from an 84 second deficit after the swim, was able to run herself into 2nd place with Pilz coming through in 3rd.
“My father knows so much about me. He knows how I race and what I expect from myself,” commented Fernandes as the full stadium chanted her name. “He was so happy that my grandmother was able to see me race. It is very important to me.”
“This is fantastic,” replied Pilz, on the chanting crowd. “It feels as though you are pushed. Like running on a cloud. The crowds cheered for everyone out there. Not just the Portuguese.”
Sarah Haskins of the United States and Flora Duffy of Bermuda rounded out the top five with career-best performances for both these young athletes.
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Official full results with lap splits are here
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS