In only his second race of the season, Germany’s Martin Schulz still proved he is a top contender in Rio 2016, winning the men’s PT4 race at the Lisbon European Triathlon Union (ETU) Para Triathlon European Championships on Friday (27 May) in Portugal.
Athletes from Great Britain also had a strong showing, winning four of 10 events.
Two-time world champion Schulz (59:54) had a lead of almost two minutes in his victory.
Sixteen seconds separated second and third. Spain’s Jairo Ruiz Lopez (1:01:39) took the silver, followed by French veteran Yannick Bourseaux (1:01:55).
Current world champion and top contender for Paralympic gold, Lauren Steadman, took the gold with a time of 1:09:02.
The British athlete finished ahead of teammate Faye McClellan (1:11:59) and France’s Gwladys Lemoussu (1:12:01).
The Netherlands’ Jetze Plat and Geert Schipper took gold and silver, respectively. Plat (57:52) secured his third European championship in three years; teammate Schipper (1:01:48) followed in second.
The Dutch duo spoiled a one-two finish from top British contenders Joseph Townsend (1:02:47) and Phil Hogg (1:06:22), who finished third and fifth respectively.
Great Britain’s 2015 national champion Lizzie Tench (1:24:22) won her first European Championship with a substantial lead over Spain’s runner-up Eva Maria Moral Peddler (1:27:59) and Ireland’s newcomer Fiona McCormack (1:45:19).
Italy’s two-time European champion and current world No. 1 Michele Ferrarin fell short of the win. Less than 90 seconds separated first from third, with Great Britain’s Andrew Lewis taking the gold (1:10:09), France’s Stephane Bahier (1:11:07) with the silver and Ferrarin with the bronze (1:11:46).
It was Lewis’ first European Championship win and comes after he was named to the British Elite Para Triathlon squad in March.
After tough showings at the European Championships in 2014 and 2015, France’s Elise Marc - who was disqualified in 2014 and did not finish in 2015 - got redemption with her first victory this year. Marc (1:25:37) had a strong showing against Finland’s runner-up Liisa Lilja (1:27:47) and Russian bronze medallist Veronika Gabitova (1:32:59).
The men’s race featured a battle among the top three athletes in the world rankings. Spain’s No. 2 Alejandro Sanchez Palomero won his second consecutive European Championship (1:07:44), defeating Russia’s Denis Kungurtcev (1:08:35) and Austria’s No. 1 Oliver Dreier (1:10:15).
Defending champion Nora Hansel (1:26:44) gave Germany another gold medal by winning her race. Russia’s Anna Plotnikova (1:34:34) finished second.
Ukraine’s reigning European champion Vasyl Zakrevskyi (1:06:46) finished 13 seconds behind Spanish winner Hector Catala Lappara (1:06:23). Frenchman Arnaud Grandjean (1:08:36) came in third.
Great Britain’s women’s duo of Alison Patrick (1:10:18) and Melissa Reid (1:11:58) took first and second, respectively. Spain’s Susana Rodriguez (1:13:49) completed the podium.
Complete results from the Para Triathlon European Championships can be found on the International Triathlon Union’s website.
Para triathlon will debut in Rio 2016 and will feature races in the men’s PT1, 2, and 4 and women’s PT2, 4, and 5.