This was also my first draft-legal Olympic distance event, I have done a couple of non-drafting Olympic before but this would be a whole lot different. The swim course was 1500m around an island in the lake, after a 500m run from the swim to bike we had to complete a 40km ride (1 lap out and back) which was mainly flat with a few small hills at the start. A 10km run followed which was one of the hardest courses I've been on as there was 3 climbs and extremely hot. The field was very strong with a big variety of age, 30 competitors from countries such as Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Columbia and Japan looked to be a good race.
Very early race start on Sunday morning, 6:30 was our race and also the first wave of the day. Didn't have much time for a solid warm up so had to make the most of the time we had. I was ranked last as I have not done a Conti cup before and was a bit worried if I was going to get a good position on the sand. After watching the men's world cup the day before I decided I wanted to start on the right side, lucky enough there was one position left on the very inside right, yes! About 3sec after I got my position we were off. I was off to a flying start, couple of steps through the water before diving in and I was out in front away from the chaos. I led out the right hand group while I could see Dan Wilson leading the left hand group. It was about 300m to first buoy so the pack had time to straighten out before turning. About half way through the swim I was now sitting in the top half of the pack and Wilson had a gap on the rest of the field. Coming in from the swim there was a sand bank about 50m offshore that I had checked out the day before which enabled athletes to porpoise for about 20m before it went deep again. Came out of the water in the middle of the pack and had to sprint to transition to ensure I didn't have to do any chasing on the bike. Very quick transition and was out onto the bike sitting comfortably in the pack. The group rolled over the hills at a hard pace but even so the pack stayed together. As it stood, Wilson had a big gap ahead of my pack which had about 20 riders there was another pack behind of about 15 riders and also a few solo riders at the tail end. The packed worked really well on the way out, majority of people were rolling turns and we were catching Wilson. On the way back it was a bit scattered, several poor attacks didn't help as the group would catch back up and we would be freewheeling for 10-15sec. The last km is very technical, very fast and some tight bends. Just as we were going up the last hill I got on the wheel of another rider who rode up to the front, I overtook him just as the corners started and had a clean run all the way through to transition. I had the 2nd fastest ride time for the race leading my pack onto the run but still 2nd overall as Wilson still had a big lead. Felt pretty good coming off the bike although a pack of 4 came past pretty quick about 2k in and wasn't able to kick to stay with them, a few others had also passed but couldn't stick with any of them. Going up the hill for the first lap was really hard, it was long and the turn around was right at the top. Sitting in 8th position with a group of 3 not too far behind, it looked as though they were gaining but I would have been disappointed to miss out on top 10 so I picked up the pace and pushed for last 3km. The hill 2nd time round wasn't so bad, knowing that when I got to the top it was only a km downhill to the finish. I managed to hold that group off and put more time into them coming over in 8th position with an overall time of 1:54:20.
Very happy with the result in my first continental cup race placing 8th out of 30 athletes. Will be doing a lot more of these when I travel to Europe later this year. I nw have NSW club champs on the first weekend of April then preparation for Europe will begin.