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Steyn, Don cope best

Not even the trio of freezing water, windy conditions, or the heat were going to get the better of SA and Africa Champion, Andrea Steyn (Nestle Pure Life), or regular visitor and Olympic athlete Tim Don (Prologue) at the 11 Global Triathlon in Cape Town.

Typical for the Atlantic Ocean, the water temperature read a frigid 11 C, as 90 plus triathletes stood on Blouberg Beach, just outside Cape Town for the first of the 11 Global series races for 2010.

Two very different races unfolded as Britain’s Don was a class above the men’s field, but Steyn had to overcome a bad swim to claw her way to victory.

Don covered the approximately 1km swim (the fact that the tide having gone out prior to the race shortened the course by about 500m) in 13min 20sec. Hendrik De Villiers, fourth at the World Championships in 2008, and now deep in base training, was next out of the water with Sander Berk (BSG) right on his heals. Then came Kent Horner and the 2009 winner, Dann Brook (ActivInstinct).

The 40km bike leg was a three lap, out and bike course heading north up the West Coast Road. Don showed his class on the bike by edging even further away. The fact that the race was non-draft legal would certainly have aided him as he, and the rest of the field, went into a strong headwind every time they turned back towards the transition area. And wind and heat are very, very energy sapping.

De Villiers (BSG) had dropped back on the bike leg behind Kent Horner who was chasing down Berk. Horner’s cycle was 1min 05sec faster than Berk’s, easily making up the 14sec deficit he had coming out of the water. But on the run, Berk was too strong for Horner and they switched places. No one though was going to catch the flying Don who had the fastest swim and bike times and the second fastest run time by only one second.

Twenty-one-year-old Richard Murray (BSG) from Cape Town, but training in Potchefstroom for the last month or so, showed why, when he gets his swim sorted, he will be very dangerous. Emerging around a minute down on De Villiers, Horner and Berk from the sea, Murray produced his trademark come-from-behind surge on the bike and particularly the run.

Moving from seventh to fourth on the bike leg, Murray ran the fastest 10km split of the field, but had lost too much time in the swim to challenge for a podium position.

Don had sown up victory in 1:46;31, Berk crossed the line just under two minutes adrift (1:48;19) with Horner third 17 seconds back (1:48:36) to round up the podium.

The women’s race was a very different race. Steyn has, since December, been working on her swim stroke with coach Beth Libby and High Performance Manager, Emma Swanwick. ÔÇ£As you know things have to get worse before they get betterÔÇØ, said Steyn.

ÔÇ£I really struggled today,ÔÇØ she said after her win which put her 14th overall. ÔÇ£The wind on the bike and the heat after the cold water, really made things difficult for us today, even though we could wear wetsuits in the cold water.ÔÇØ

First out of the water was local girl Vicky Van Der Merwe (BSG) who is beginning to get into shape again, after an injury towards the end of 2009 laid her low. Van Der Merwe’s lead was more than a minute ahead of Lauren Dance (M.A.D Multisport) as she hit the transition.

Steyn was almost two minutes behind. But the lack of base work began to tell on Van Der Merwe ÔÇô who is also preparing for the SA Championships on 21 March in Potchefstroom with Murray ÔÇô as the minute lead from the swim over Dance, turned into around a 20sec deficit on the bike leg. Steyn behind them was turning on the power and chasing them both down.

Once on the run, Steyn was too good and took the lead early on. In her first appearance for 2010, she picked up where she left off in 2009, in winning ways. She crossed the line in 2:01:48, with Dance ever improving finishing second (2:03:11) and Van Der Merwe third (2:07:00)

ÔÇ£I know there is a lot of work to be done before the South African Championships, but it is always good to win your first race of the year,ÔÇØ said Steyn. Her next race is the Momentum Health Iflex Duathlon in Roodeplaat on 7 March.


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