The shaded run and technical bike course that wound around UNESCO heritage site Place Stanislas provided the perfect backdrop for Felicity Sheedy-Ryan and Emilio Martin to each claim their first world championship titles at the 2012 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Nancy, France.
The Men’s Race
Loaded with previous world championship medallists, the battle for the men’s podium at the 2012 Nancy ITU Duathlon World Championships was hard fought. Spain’s Emilio Martin overtook Belgium’s Antoine Duvivier down the finish chute for his first world title. Duvivier returned to the podium for the first time since 2009 with a silver medal, while France’s Benoit Nicolas earned his second consecutive world championship bronze medal.
“I wasn’t one of the favourites, I was one of the last ones to qualify for the championships, but I knew I could be in the top three,” Martin said. “I’m very happy with the victory.”
With everyone’s eye on the prize, within the first two kilometres of the initial 10km run, a dozen men merged together to form a lead pack, with Duvivier at the helm. Midway through the six-lap run, speedy Sergio Silva emerged to head the group, consequently dropping three athletes.
With the Portugese leading, a pack of nine headed to the bike course with a 30-second advantage. The group rode together over the eight-lap course. Duvivier, Etienne Diemunsch (FRA), and Gregory Rouault (FRA) arrived at the transition first, and took off for the final quick five kilometres, hotly trailed by a contingency of men hungry for a medal.
One of those men was Martin, who joined the leaders on the first lap of the run. With two kilometres to go, Martin attempted to break away, but couldn’t shake Duvivier. In an all-out flurry to the finish, Martin finally bolted ahead in the chute just metres before the finish.
He claimed his first world title by just three seconds in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 40 seconds. Duvivier crossed over next in 1:40:43. Benoit had a monster run to overtake a handful of men off the bike. He flew to his second consecutive bronze in 1:40:47.
The Women’s Race
Although Sheedy-Ryan has been absent from the duathlon scene since earning bronze at the 2010 World Championships, she made a seamless return to the two-discipline sport besting last year’s champion Katie Hewison (GBR) and four-time world championship medallist Sandra Levenez (FRA) en route to the title.
“I knew there were some very strong girls,” Sheedy-Ryan said. “I’ve been doing a lot of hard biking and running recently for my triathlon training, and I was confident I could put in a good race. You never know, it’s never easy, but I was hoping for a really good result.”
The result was indeed good for the Australian, as she dominated the course from start to finish. On the second half of the six-lap 10km run, Sheedy-Ryan pushed the pace to break away from lead pack of 10. Hewison, Sabrina Godard and Levenez met her rate and, together, the quad managed to gain a 40-second advantage by the time they hit their bikes.
It wasn’t long before Sheedy-Ryan, Hewison and Levenez accelerated ahead of Godard on the technical course.The top three leading ladies rode together throughout the eight-lap course, working to put an insurmountable distance between themselves and their competition. The three hit the run course together, but Sheedy-Ryan quickly sprinted ahead on the first of three run laps, with Hewison next.
In a final push for the finish, Sheedy-Ryan surged to gold in 1:52:43. Hewison garnered her second medal at a duathlon world championships in as many years with silver in 1:53:42. Levenez ran to her fourth consecutive podium finish in 1:54:20.
ITU Duathlon World Championships
Top 6 Men
1. Emilio Martin (ESP) 01:40:40
2. Antoine Duvivier (BEL) 01:40:43
3. Benoit Nicolas (FRA) 01:40:47
4. Etienne Diemunsch (FRA) 01:40:59
5. Sergio Silva (POR) 01:41:06
6. Philip Wylie (GBR) 01:41:12
Top 5 Women
1. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (AUS) 01:52:43
2. Katie Hewison (GBR) 01:53:42
3. Sandra Levenez (FRA) 01:54:20
4. Yuko Takahashi (JPN) 01:56:33
5. Andrea Steyn (RSA) 01:56:39