BERGEN, Nor.— Canada’s Amelie Kretz scrapped her way into eighth spot in a spirited return to World Cup triathlon racing on Sunday in Bergen, Norway.
Making her first World Cup start since competing in her second Olympic Summer Games last summer in Tokyo, the 29-year-old Kretz gutted out a solid top-10 finish against a deep international field of 65 athletes, posting a time of 1:03:14 in Sunday’s sprint distance format.
“It’s been a long road back to racing at this level,” said Kretz, who made her return to elite racing at Commonwealth Games earlier this month after recovering from injury. “Commonwealth Games was definitely a shock to the system, but I was able to get a good three weeks of training after that to get ready for these next races. I’m happy with the progress. I feel like I executed a solid race.
“I still have a lot of room for improvement but after the last year, I’m learning to enjoy even more the fact that I’m healthy and back racing at the front.”
The Saint-Therese, Que. resident dug deep to get to the front of the pack after finishing the chilly 750-metre swim in Vågen waters in 27th spot.
“The swim was a bit hectic in the cold water. I didn’t have much feel for the water, but I got into the mix,” added Kretz.
The veteran Canadian triathlete wasted no time putting the hammer down on the pedals to close the 30 second gap on the frontrunners in the first of four laps on the challenging 20-kilometre bike course that featured cobblestones and technical sections, along with a punishing climb up Nordess Hill before a snaking descent.
“I struggled a bit to position myself well in the group and maybe burnt a few matches on the bike doing that,” said Kretz, who added the finish to the race included a five-kilometre run course along the harbour. “On the run I went all-in from the start and ran with the front for about a lap. I had a few low points on the run towards the end of the first lap where I couldn’t find my rhythm on the cobbles but I fought on the second lap and finished strong.
“Today was so much better than a few weeks ago at Commonwealth Games. I’m looking forward to building on that momentum and keep improving for the next races coming up.”
Kretz was not able to respond to the kick put in from the podium winners on the final lap. Sweden’s Tilda Mansson won the first ever World Cup triathlon in Norway’s City of Seven Mountains, finishing with a time of 1:02:48. Belgium’s Jolien Vermeylen was one second back in the silver-medal position at 1:02:49. Kate Waugh, of Great Britain, won the bronze with a time of 1:02:54.
Martin Sobey, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., was the top Canuck in the men’s sprint race. The 25-year-old clocked-in at 58:18 to claim 35th spot.
Charles Paquet (Port-Cartier, Que.) who made his Commonwealth Games debut with Sobey this summer in Birmingham, was 38th on Sunday at 58:39.
Dorian Coninx, of France, took home top spot in the men’s race after edging out the Norwegian favourite – Kristian Blummenfelt – with a time of 55:37. Blummenfelt thrilled the thousands of Norwegian fans lining the streets of Bergen with a silver-medal finish, stopping the clock at 55:38.
Vetle Bergsvik Thorn added to the Norwegian party with a second medal for the host country, winning the bronze with a time of 55:42.
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