A week on from racing in Quarteira, Portugal, the ETU Triathlon European Cup circuit moved on to Melilla, Spain.
Melilla is actually located on the North African coast, one of two autonomous cities of Spain on the Morocco-Spain border.
No swimming today thanks to another race format change, but that didn’t impact France’s pre-race favourite, Cassandre Beaugrand, who was in a different league on the run.
Following something of a trend this week (cancelled swim at Challenge Salou / shortened swim at IRONMAN South Africa), the planned sprint distance triathlon was also raced as a duathlon, the swim replaced by an opening run of approx. 2km.
As the leaders made their way through T1 after little more than seven minutes of running, a group of just three would start the bike together. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) was joined by Alberte Kjaer Pedersen (DEN) and her Tokyo team mate and 2021 Grand Final silver medallist, Leonie Periault.
Bib #’s 1/2/3 were soon away and extending their lead. Was the podium already set? With Pedersen a silver medallist the U23 World Championship last year, that was a quality trio to chase.
While the French duo were keen to extinguish any challenges on two wheels, a strong effort from behind meant that they wouldn’t get an easy ride to T2. On lap four they were were joined by the chasers of Iona Miller (GBR), Valerie Bathelemy (BEL), Edda Hannesdottir (ISL), Cathia Schär (SUI), Tanja Neubert (GER) and Nora Gmür (SUI).
Could any of those who bridged, challenge the three top-ranked athletes they had just caught?
The long strides of Beaugrand took control of the race from the start of the run and she quickly built a significant lead in her strongest discipline. 25 second clear after the first of two run laps, she would have a relaxed final 2.5km to kick-off her 2022 racing season with a win.
A victory margin at the finish of 44 seconds indicates she was well within herself today too.
The experience of Periault would ensure that she made it a French double at the top of podium, with Kjar Pedersen matching her start number to take third.
Sunday 3 April 2022
2km run / 20km bike / 5km run

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