Mixed fortunes for Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley in Europe Triathlon Cup action
Bermudian triathletes Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley made their long-awaited return to competitive elite-level action on Saturday, but endured differing fortunes in the Europe Triathlon Cup Caorle, in Italy.
After an agonising wait for consistent competition, owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Smith enjoyed an impressive return to action, finishing fourteenth in the strongly contested Elite Men’s field.
Having completed the 750-metre swim in 10min 14sec to exit the water in 23rd place, Smith powered his way into contention on the bike, finishing the 20km course in the second-fastest time of 26:14.
However, as has been the case since recovering from a fractured foot in 2019, the 23-year-old conceded he was left to rue his 5km run, clocking a time of 15:51 to finish in a highly respectable overall time of 54:12, less than a minute adrift of Csongor Lehmann’s race-winning time of 53:20.
“I thought I gave a really good performance and I managed to execute a lot of areas that I wanted to work on,” Smith sai. “I really felt like the work I put in over the winter months really paid off.
“The start list was actually bigger than normal for a European Cup event and because there are less races due to Covid, you get a higher level of quality in the field.
“It was a solid swim to start off, followed by a really strong bike leg. I had one of the fastest bike legs of the race this weekend and that is pleasing among a very high level of competition.
“However, My run definitely still needs some work. The guys out here are running under 15 minutes to win these sorts of races and so I need to shave time off my run.
“I actually gave one of my better runs, but the reality is everyone else is also raising their level and so I need to get better with that.”
His efforts also resulted in personal validation for Smith, who gained a sense of personal satisfaction for reasons other than his promising overall finish.
“As a personal bonus to myself I knew there was a couple of guys competing, Alessandro Fabian, of Italy, and Chile’s Diego Moya, who are both holding qualifying spots for the Olympics,” added Smith, whose own faint hopes of reaching the Games were dashed owing to a combination of failing to secure qualification and the Bermuda Olympic Association’s decision not to apply for a Tripartite Commission Invitation place.
“I managed to beat both of them, so that was satisfying. It was a little personal mission for me to beat them and it shows me that I’m on the right trajectory for the future.”
Meanwhile, it proved a tough outing for compatriot Hawley in the Elite Women’s race, as she settled for a 41st-place finish overall.
The 23-year-old exited the water in 12:05, completed the cycle in 29:49 and clocked 19:16 for the run to cross the finish line in a total time of 1:03:15, just more than four minutes behind race winner Lena Meißner, of Germany, who finished in 59:14.
“The swim was a field of 75 and it was windy and choppy, which made it like a battlefield out there,” Hawley said. “I struggled to get a good position on the swim, the bike was a chasing game and I was just hanging on the run.”
Hawley may not have to wait long for a chance to redeem herself, with possible entry into the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon, Portugal, this weekend before competing in the Europe Triathlon Cup Olsztyn, in Poland, at the end of the month.