Nicola Spirig called on all her class and experience to navigate a grueling weekend in Lisbon with remarkable ease. The veteran Swiss star helped her team to a bronze medal and Olympic qualification in the World Triathlon Mixed Relay event on Friday. Then, two days later, she held off a star-studded field to finish 12 seconds ahead of Carolyn Hayes in the ITU World Cup.
And in a sign of the enduring strength of On’s leading athletes, Max Studer also achieved a double podium weekend, claiming silver in the men’s race on Saturday and finishing just eight seconds from gold.
Spirig emerged from the swim 70 seconds behind the front of the pack. But powerhouse performances on the bike (1:03:11) and in the run (33:57) saw her dominate the latter stages.
She said: “For the last three weeks, I’ve been training quite well in Gran Canaria – so I felt good going into this race. I did the World Cup because I was already here (for the relay race) and I need a few good, high-level races before the Olympics. It was more important for me to have a hard race than to get a certain result. I just wanted to give my best and have a really good effort.”
She added: “I was happy about the mixed-team relay event, because we qualified for the Olympics – and that was the goal. Not everything went perfect, but we’re very happy to have qualified.”
The challenge was arguably even more difficult for her Swiss team-mate Studer, who competed on Friday (relay) and Saturday (men’s). His silver medal on Saturday was a reflection of his quality in the run, where he recorded the fastest split (29:04) to haul himself into the top three.
Studer said: “It was an awesome two days of racing, first with the team relay on Friday where we qualified for the Olympics and then on Saturday with the men’s race. On Saturday I started out with a good swim and was directly in the front pack. The bike was fast, so I knew it would come down to the run. I lost a bit of time in transition because there were so many athletes, but in the end, I caught the front pack and pushed the pace.”
He added: “The last three kilometers were a battle with Kristian Blummenfelt, but he had more power in the final kilometer than me. I’m happy with the result as it’s important for the Olympic qualifications. I’ll head back to St. Moritz now and prepare for Leeds.”
Both Spirig and Studer will now turn their attention to their final preparations ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Spirig said: “I was planning to do Leeds, but now my coach thinks it might be better to skip it and do some training. I might do a little race instead of Leeds, then at the end of June go to the European Championships in Kitzbühel and the Middle Distance European Championships in Walchsee a week later.”
Visit The Echo Files today for your chance to win a groundbreaking new marathon shoe designed in collaboration with leading On athletes.