Thursday, July 31, 2008
Chrissie, King of the Hill at Alpe d’Huez!
TeamTBB sent a trio of stars to France to take on a course that has made stars in the bike ranks. Chrissie Wellington, who won the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon last year, was back to defend her title. She was joined by teammates and compatriots Bella Comerford and Stephen Bayliss to tackle a race that is quickly growing into a classic event. While each of the famed 21 hairpins has a Tour rider named in its honor, we think there is a case for Chrissie to perhaps take up one of the spots on the ascent. And in classic French fashion, which dictates that they do what they want, the long-course race was held on Wednesday.
The race, with a 2.2-kilometers swim, is followed by an epic bike; after a loop along the valley floor with a couple of leg-tenderizing climbs, the course goes up, up, up, from Bourg d'Oisans up the famed 21 hairpin turns that comprise the legendary Tour de France up Alpe d'Huez to the town of Huez. Once at the top, taxed athletes are greeted by a 22k run.
Wellington's 29:57 swim was impressive enough, but that merely set her up for a stellar, steady bike that took her to the front of the race. The reigning Ironman world champion stepped off the bike with the fourth-fastest bike—among men and women—in 4:09:05. From there, the endurance exhibition continued; she had the second-fastest run (bested only by her male teammate, Bayliss) turning in a 1:36:34 run to take second overall—that is, among women and men—in 6:18:25. The second women would come in over 25 minutes later.
The taxing conditions and torrid pace caused teammate Comerford to make the tough call to drop from the race on the run, saving her speedy legs for another day. On the men's side, Bayliss salvaged a tough day on the bike by notching that day-best 1:30:52 run to finish eighth in 6:36:54.
Congrats to Chrissie for adding another impressive win to her growing 2008 palmares, and props to Bayliss for toughing it out for a top-10 finish.