Daglingworth triathlete pipped in sprint finish in Spain
WELLINGTON swept the French from Spain in 1813 at the Battle of Vitoria, but 199 years later in the same Basque city, triathlete Steve Yates met his match in a Viking.
Yates, from Daglingworth, returned from last Sunday’s World Long Course Triathlon World Championships with a magnificent silver medal.
Cruelly for Steve, the six-hour event boiled down to a sprint finish and he lost out to Denmark’s Preben Jacobsen by just 21 seconds.
Yates was more than a minute and a half clear of the third home, Sweden’s Pasi Salonen, in the 45 to 49-year-old category Yates had more than two minutes to make up on the leader Jacobsen after leaving the water in sixth place following the 4km swim, but he posted the best 120km bike ride time among the 85 competitors.
He and Jacobsen raced neck and neck for much of the final gruelling 30km run. The Englishman tried to kick clear on an uphill section more than a mile from the finish but his move was not decisive and he could not respond again when Jacobsen sprinted clear.
It was still a tremendous effort from the Daglingworth triathlete, whose last bid at a World Championship age-group event came in Perth, Australia 12 years ago when he finished fourth.
He had retained his British age group championship just three weeks ago at Emberton in Buckinghamshire.
Nursing a sore body and the disappointment of just missing out on gold, Yates told the Standard: “It was all a bit emotional. It was a very tough race and to lose out in what amounted to a sprint finish after more than six hours racing was tough to take.
“Preben was a massive guy, a real Viking type, and if he had been wearing a helmet with horns, I would not have been surprised.”
“I got ahead of him quite early on the bike ride and then he sat on my back wheel for the next 100km.
“We started the run within 30 seconds of each other and I led until 15km. Then Preben went in front until 25km before I hauled him back and led again with 1500 metres to go.
“I tried to put in a big kick but I could not get more than five metres on him and then he came back at me and started to go clear.”
Yates was overwhelmed by the support on the course.
“Tens of thousands lined the route – it was like the whole city had come out to watch and it was an incredible atmosphere.
“We were very lucky in that it was extremely hot until the weather broke with a thunderstorm on Thursday night.
“On raceday, it was overcast – perfect conditions for a triathlon. The swim took place in a beautiful lake 20km from Vitoria and the run was a four-lap course around the city’s medieval district.”
Yates returned from Vitoria-Gasteiz – the European Green Capital of 2012 – and was soon behind the desk of his import business (Ruff Tuff Stuff) for German-manufactured pedal-less childrens’ bicycles based in Love Lane, in Cirencester.
He will now take a short break before targeting an Ironman 70.3 event in September.