European Triathlon Championships - Dusseldorf Germany

So the quality just stepped up another gear! Deva was strong but with Dusseldorf being close and relatively easy to get to, the quality of the field really was the best Europe had to offer.

European Triathlon Championships Germany 2017 Dusseldorf - Germany

After a day sorting out admin, pre-race briefs, bike and run reccies, transition check-in and of course fueling correctly, I was prepared and ready for race day.

I had gone around the course the previous day, so knew about the looooong run to transition then the long run out and I had done my homework on the bike route. I had the advantage of watching most of the waves go off as I was in the last but one wave. This allowed me to pick what I thought would be the best starting point from the floating pontoon.

I had one of the biggest waves of the whole event with 50 of Europe’s best to try and overcome. My swimming is much better than it used to be but I am still not able to get out of the water with the front pack. The swim went well, a few lose arms and feet making contact but nothing too bad, as I got out of the swim we had to climb what seemed like 5,000 steps before running 400m to T1, so additional time was added before we crossed the timing mat.

T1 was the longest I had ever come across, you couldn't see the end! But you also couldn't go wrong. I came out the swim in 26th place in my category and immediately wanted to try and make up time on those faster Phelp like swimmers. Up the 5,000 steps, double stepping, then onto the blue carpet all the way around to T1. I had a good reference marker for my bike so no issues with that, then out of the wet suit and a barefoot 500m run to exit T1, on a cobbled road!

European Triathlon Championships Paul Clucas Cycling European Triathlon Championships - Paul Clucas Cycling

Over the mount line and I was a little over zealous as I leaped like a gazelle, clearly too high only to come crashing down to earth like Theresa Mays election campaign, hitting my seat hard and towards the back forcing the seat to tilt up at the front, a quick manual adjustment and I was down into the TT position and away. By this time the rain that started for the first wave had now stopped and although puddles remained throughout the course the road was mostly dry. I knew where I needed to slow down and where I could continue to keep the power down around the course but due to numerous crashes, marshals were rightly blowing whistles to try and slow me down as I approached bends. Whilst I approached cautiously, I knew the course and it was as the European Championships so I was willing to take reasonable risks.

So after hammering the bike like a crazy Englishman, coming in in 33:07 and 8th in cat, I entered T2 at speed and was quickly into my trainers and away.

Now my running is ok and improving as the season goes on but again it wasn't at its best, but boy did I save the best until last!!

The run was 5k so pretty much an all out effort after a fast bike, how far into the red you can go and hold it is the best way I can describe it. Within the first 2k I was overtaken by about 3 or 4 guys who I recognised from my category, annoying but I was pretty much red lining.  Due to the run coming back on itself in parts I was aware of other guys who were in my cat and chasing me down!

Paul Clucas European Triathlete European Triathlon Championships - Paul Clucas

Push push, into the last km and 2 guys caught and passed me, one a Belgian guy and one a Brit, both of whom were in my category. I tagged onto the Brit and I tried to sit on his shoulder, this worked momentarily but it wasn't long until he started pulling away so I was left keeping pace with the Belgian. I knew the end was approaching so dug deeper than a miner to stay with my rival. With 200m to go the noise rapidly increased as we approached the blue carpet with 100m to the finish. I could hear people shouting my name and cow bells ringing, this helped me pick up the pace for the final run in.

As I hit the blue carpet I was flat out, legs screaming, heart screaming and head wondering what the hell I was doing but I ignored all the signs to slow down as I knew it was nearly over.

I overtook the Belgian with about 80m to go and could see I was catching my fellow Brit. Still some 20m ahead but he was coming back to me, keep pushing I told myself, right through the line any good coach would say! It was within the last 30m, I could hear people shouting, 'he is coming' clearly his supporters. As I came passed him with only about 10m to the line I knew he wouldn't be able react and I crossed the finish line like I was in first place and I had won it on the line. In my mind I did, well that battle at least. It looked against all odds at one stage but as I often tell others, never ever give up!

The Finish Line - European Triathlon Championships Paul Clucas - Finish Line

My final position was 16th in Europe, on reflection I am pleased with that and especially with the way I finished, still more work to be done though.

What's next? Well a quick recovery, helped by products from MyEndurance, as I have a World Championship qualifier and National Championship all rolled into one the following weekend at Ripon, both these factors will ensure a top class field will be on display once again.

Thanks to my sponsors for your continued support.

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