Junior triathletes perform in Kitzbühel European Cup

South African junior triathletes Ben De La Porte and Jamie Riddle finished in 10th and 12th place respectively at the final of Kitzbühel European Cup triathlon on Sunday 17 June 2018. The super sprint race held much excitement for the athletes as a two part series over the course of the weekend. The Kitzbühel super sprint distance entailed a single lap 500m swim, 4 lap 12km cycle and a 1,5 lap 3,3km run.

Ben De La Porte running at the Kitzbühel Junior European Cup

De La Porte enjoyed the course and the hilly cycle was something him and fellow triathlete Asher Biggs specifically prepared for, “We practiced our hills quite a bit before we left to Europe. I quite enjoy a hillier course. It makes the race a lot more interesting compared to a flat course.” De La Porte is hoping this race and some of his upcoming races in Europe will grant him a slot to the WTS Grand Final in Australia in September. De La Porte won his semifinal heat the day before in a time of 36:32 and raked up a top 10 finish in the final in a time of 35:56, yet he still prefers the ‘one day sprint distance race’ in comparison to the 2 day super sprint distance. “The format is really tough, its almost maximum effort just to try make the final and then to do it all again the next day is hard.” De La Porte is racing the Holten Junior European Cup next, followed by the Tiszaújváros Junior European Cup and finally looking to wrap up his European season in Tartu at the Junior European Cup in Estonia. “The main thing that I will take from this race is my positioning on the bike coming into the run transition.”

It was Riddle’s first time racing in what he describes as a beautiful area to race, with welcoming people, great event organization and a challenging course. “It caters for everything: hills, technical, flat, descending, the list goes on. Definitely a race I would like to return to,” Riddle reported. He prepared for the hill by incorporating incline training into his routine, but didn’t alter too much as he believes his program is one that works for him for racing. After finishing 5th in his semifinal in a time of 36:43 and 12th in the final in a time of 36:00, Riddle can definitely be happy with his training program. Riddle usually travels to Europe in the school holidays to race the triathlon circuit and gain experience. This year is all about slots for World Championships in Gold Coast Australia so the racing is on. “The European circuit is something far different from South African races, with much larger and stronger fields testing you mentally and physically.” Riddle enjoys the quick and fast format of semifinal-final racing, “It keeps things interesting. There is no room for error. With more risk comes more reward… pull it off and that feeling a triathlete strives for is far greater. It not only tests skill but the ability to hurt, recover and come back.” After Kitzbühel, Riddle is racing in Holten and Tiszaújváros. Going forward, his training is all about remaining at peak performance and not doing anything to push himself over the edge to get him from race to race.

Jamie Riddle sprint finishes into 12th place.

Two ladies’ semifinals saw 15 girls from each heat qualify for the final. Three men’s semifinals meant only 10 from each heat could go into Sunday’s final race. Fellow South Africans Gizelde Strauss and Asher Biggs competed on Saturday 16 June 2018 in the semi-final, but unfortunately came up short of qualifying for the final. Biggs finished his semi final in 19th place in a time of 37:47. After coming out the water in 25th, Biggs had an impressive cycle leg, coming off the bike 11th. Having used a bit too much energy in the cycle, the wheels came off on the run unfortunately.

During the week leading up to the race the weather did not comply, the triathletes were able to get familiar with the course in an array of wet and dry conditions. Strauss’s mindset on race day was a mixture of excitement and nervous energy, “when the nerves started to kick in I constantly had to remind myself to enjoy it and not worry too much about the outcome.” Strauss finished in 19th place in a time of 42:56 after a swim that she likened to a breakthrough, “My main focus for the race was to get out of the water with the leading bunch. I’ve worked very hard on my swim over the past few months and was so happy and relieved that I actually did it, I came out the water with them!” A tricky hill incline on the bike and some no doubt tired limbs from the swim, Strauss was unable to stick with the pack on the bike. “Hopefully I will have my bike legs back for the next race.” Strauss is happy taking a good swim, good run and more gained experience from this race.