LISBON, Por.— Amélie Kretz dug deep to deliver one of the best races of her career under the pressure of trying to secure a second Olympic qualification spot for Canada, finishing sixth at a World Cup triathlon race in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday.
The Blainville, Que. resident capped off her 28th birthday week battling through difficult conditions to finish three spots off the podium with a time of 2:00.09 after scrapping it out with many of the best names in the sport of women’s triathlon through a 1.5-kilometre swim followed by a 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run.
“This result feels really good. It has been a tough year for everyone and I always knew I had it in me, but it was a question of putting it all together,” said Kretz, who is fighting to earn her second trip to the Olympic Games. “This is a good step forward to qualifying Canada our second spot for Tokyo.”
Determined to bounce back after a disappointing run one week ago at her first World Triathlon Series race in more than a year where she finished 33rd in Yokohama, the determined Kretz was well-positioned heading into first transition after battling through the choppy waters of the two-lap swim in 13th spot.
“I had a good first lap of the swim, but then I got stuck in the middle of the group,” added Kretz. On the ride I knew I had the (Nicola) Spirig Train behind me so I was happy to see that.”
Kretz settled into a chase pack that headed out of T1 17 seconds down from the frontrunnners.
Tactically working her way in the chase group, a large train formed near the midway point of the eight-lap bike course that required full concentration through the blustery conditions. Kretz exercised her tactics to near perfection – bouncing around in the pack and staying out of trouble in an effort to conserve the legs for the foot race that would determine the podium.
“I cramped in T2 and was the last one (from the lead group) out. I really had to surge out of transition but I made it to where I wanted to be,” said Kretz.
She certainly did.
Starting the 10-kilometre run 13 seconds back in 16th spot, the gutsy Canuck quickly picked off 12 spots on the field and was running in fourth spot until her fourth and final 2.5-kilometre lap on the relatively flat run course. With the leaders breaking away, Kretz collapsed at the finish line after holding on for sixth place.
“I tried to hang tough with my training partner Kirsten Kasper as long as I could,” said Kretz. “I didn’t have the legs on the backend, but it actually feels good to put down a race that I knew I could do.”
Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig bolted to the gold medal after posting the top run time of the day (33:57). The two-time Olympic medallist hopped onto the top step of the podium after stopping the clock at 1:59:05. Ireland’s Carolyn Hayes won the silver medal with a time of 1:59:17. Kasper, of the United States, won the battle for the bronze medal with a time of 1:59:39.
Three other Canadian women also suited up on Sunday. Dominika Jamnicky, of Guelph, Ont., finished in 32nd place with a time of 2:05:05. Emy Legault, of Ile Perrot, Que., was 37th at 2:06:25. Brittany Warly, who resides in Denver, Colorado but races internationally for Canada, was lapped and did not finish the race.
Kretz and her teammates will continue to chase international points in hopes of securing the Canadian women a second spot for the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games. Kretz will be on the start line in Leeds, Great Britain when the World Triathlon Championship Series resumes, June 5-6.
Complete World Cup Lisbon Results:
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