Even a crash and cramps can’t stop Miller at Europe Cup Quarteira

Norway’s Lotte Miller arrived in Quarteira, Portugal as the prohibitive favorite and lived up to those expectations today with a dominating performance that saw her take the win the Europe Triathlon Cup and Mediterranean Championships despite a crash on the bike and having to stop during the run with cramps.

Italy’s Sharon Spimi led the women out of the water and blasted out on the bike clear of the rest of the women. Miller led a group of four up to Spimi, dropping people as she powered her way to the front. By the time she got up to Spimi there were only two who were able to keep up – Great Britain’s Hollie Elliott and Spain’s Cecilia Santamaria Surroca. The pressure Miller was putting on quickly shed Elliott and by the second of the six laps on the bike Santamaria Surroca was gone, too, leaving Miller and Spimi on their own. The pair worked well together, with Spimi providing the occasional break for Miller who continued to help them gain more and more time from the large chase group. Miller, who had finished fourth at Ironman 70.3 Cascais a few weeks before, appeared happy to do a lot of the work at the front.

The lead grew by about 20 seconds a lap and was approaching three minutes when disaster struck for the Norwegian, who crashed around one of the roundabouts on the course. Miller managed to get herself back up on the bike, but had lost 30 seconds to Spimi starting the final lap of the bike. Miller managed to drive her way back up to the front, though, and Spimi jumped back on the Miller’s wheel to finish out the bike.

Spimi had a quicker transition to lead out onto the run, but almost immediately Miller moved out in front and appeared to be on track for an easy win. The chase group hit T2 2:30 back, seemingly set to race for bronze.

Then, to continue the day’s drama, just before the halfway point of the run, Miller suddenly stopped to try and stretch out a cramp in her hamstring. Spimi had managed to stay in second, but Switzerland’s Nora Gmur was pushing hard and gaining time rapidly on the Italian. Miller got back on track, and as they hit the final of four laps on the run was still 1:15 up on Spimi, with Gmur a few seconds behind the Italian and a fast moving Ilaria Zane (ITA) suddenly becoming part of the medal picture.

Miller finally managed to regroup and get back to a pace that seemingly would be enough to get her the win while the fireworks behind her continued. Gmur got past Spimi, but Zane was only a few seconds behind as the Swiss athlete moved to second and then flew by into second. Which is how things would end up – Miller took the win in 2:02:52 with Zane crossing the line just under a minute back (2:03:48) and Gmur rounding out the podium in 2:03:57. Santamaria Surroca took fourth in 2:04:10 with Portugal’s Maria Tome finishing fifth in 2:04:41. Spimi would have one more athlete go by, too – Germany’s Katharina Moller took sixth (2:04:46) ahead of her seventh-place finish (2:04:50).