Continuing what is fast becoming a fairy tale comeback from serious injury and against the odds , Michelle Dillon came home an impressive second at the 2007 Lisbon BG Triathlon World Cup May 6th behind local girl Vanessa Fernandes despite a career threatening crash in the bike section of the race. This was another excellent result for Michelle for the second weekend in a row.
Fernandes had exited the swim a surprising thirty seconds down from the pack but the Portuguese 21 year old worked through the pack and broke away from them in the 4 th lap of the bike stage to pull off her fourth World Cup title in front of an ecstatic 40,000 local crowd in the enclosed stadium finish. She now tops the world rankings with 149 points.
72 women made the start. Jill Savage ( Canada), Sarah Haskins (USA )Julie Swallow(GB) Great Britain , Annabel Luxford ( Aus) and Pilz ( Ger ) took the early lead in the swim. Michelle exited the water 1.30 seconds down , but taking the 300 metre run from the water exit to the stadium transition in her stride. She admitted she was tired going in to the race having travelled half way across the world from the Florida race last weekend but ,as always, was determined to give it her best and the story of her race just shows what inner grit she is blessed with.
Michelle left transition in the second pack on the bike and she knew she would need to work hard to catch the leaders. She dug deep on the eighth lap, cobble stone bike course. She closed the gap on each circuit and by the 5th lap she had caught the leaders. She now had to freshen those legs by sitting at the back of the pack ready for the run or at least that was her script. Little was she to know that on the 7th lap a bike crash would take down half of the field and Michelle landed on top of them all. But typically , she got back on her bike and was off again. She now had to brave it out and make up lost time to catch the leaders again. This she did and she made it onto the back of the pack by the time they reached transition. After a quick transition Michelle stormed home , passing many of her competitors.
Fernandez recorded 2:04:45. with Michelle 1 minute and 21 seconds behind and Pilz ( Ger ) coming through in 3rd some 24 seconds later . Sarah Haskins of the United States and Flora Duffy of Bermuda took 4th and 5th place with career-best performances .
Commenting on her race , Michelle told me " Coming second in Lisbon means
things are on their way up. Finally. Its been a long slog but its great. "It's a really great feeling to be back on the World Cup Podium, it's been a while but I'd really like to thank all of my sponsors, family and friends. I've got a great support network around me now and it makes all the difference"
Michelle is now to spend the next two weeks preparing for the World Duathlon Championships in Hungary on the 19th May where she is to meet Fernandes again.
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FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS