It wasn’t until the last five kilometers of running that Britain’s Non Stanford struck but she did so with such conviction that she just became European Olympic Distance Champion in Munich. Stanford showed her power and won the race in a very convincing way
The European Championships – in which quite a few favorites unfortunately did not participate – started under great conditions; the sun was shining and the lake in Munich where the swim took place had beautifully clear water. After 19:20 minutes, it was the British Sophie Alden who came out of the water first, with basically all the big contenders close at her feet.
In the first of eight rounds, a front group of thirteen emerged, but after a few kilometers Alden crashed on the bike, taking three others with her. From that moment on there was a lead group of only eight woman left. Biggest favorites in this group were Laura Lindemann, Non Stanford and Cassandre Beaugrand.
The leading ladies worked well together, but could not prevent the large chasing group from closing in. Every five kilometers, a few seconds were lost until the gap was down to twenty seconds. From that moment on – about halfway through the bike – this changed as the eight leaders succeeded in expanding their lead again.
In the final kilometers on the bike, the chasing group still rode up to the lead group and so the two groups returned to T2 almost equally. There, it was Beaugrand who was one of the first women to set off for the 10-kilometer run and quickly took the lead in the race. She opened up a small gap, but after two kilometers it was her compatriot Emma Lombardi and the German Lindemann who closed in on her again. Switzerland’s Julie Derron ran a few seconds behind the leading trio at that point, still in the position for a podium finish. Just some minutes later it was Stanford who joined the leading trio, making it a lead group of four.
With about four kilometers to go, Stanford immediately started to increase the pace and the first victim of this acceleration was Beaugrand. Not much later Lombardi and Lindemann were also dropped, although they were only a few seconds behind.
In the final kilometers, Stanford increased her lead and it appeared that the British was far too strong for her competitors. She won the race – and with it the European title – in a time of 1:52:10. Behind her, a wonderful battle raged between Lombardi and Lindemann and it was won by Lindemann, who got second at +9 seconds. Lombardi got third, 12 seconds behind Stanford.