As part of preparations for the upcoming European Games to be held later on this month in Baku, Azerbaijan, Danica Bonello Spiteri has managed to produce strong results on foreign ground.
Her first performance was in Horst, Holland, racing in the Elite category in the European Duathlon Sprint Championships. Amongst a very strong field of some of Europe’s top duathletes, the first 5km run was fast from the word go, covering the distance in 17min 46seconds. The 20km bike was pancake flat in a typical Dutch style, but a very technical course with plenty of turns through picturesque villages. Coming off the bike in a group of 3 athletes, the 2.5km run was head to head until the final 500m where she was outsprinted by one of the athletes, leaving her to settle for 9th place overall in a commendable time of 1hr 4min 41seconds.
‘The race was literally the fast and the furious. I don’t think I’ve ever had to run so fast in my life, covering the first kilometre in 3.12, I knew it was going to be hard racing. I gave it my best and I’m pleased with the result’
Danica’s next commitment was on Spanish grounds, where she races with her Spanish team CTOA, participating in the Spanish National Team Championships. In both events Danica raced in the Elite category. The first race was over a sprint distance triathlon where she was a strong member of her team, helping her team mates complete the team triathlon in 1hr 11min to place 6th overall in the Elite Category.
‘The race was a new format of triathlon racing for me, where team work is essential and this is what led to my team doing so well. We worked at drafting in the swim, bike and run sections to ensure that the stronger athletes put in more work to ensure a faster race. I was happy to work hard for my team and we are pleased with the result’
The second race held was over super sprint distance(300m swim, 7km bike, 1.7km run) in relay format, consisting of 3 team members, Elena Aguliar, Nuria Blanco and Danica Bonello Spiteri. ‘My Spanish team felt that I was the stronger member of the team and put me into the last leg of the relay. I knew that since the distances were short it was going to be hard racing. Once I set off in the swim, our team was in 12th place and I put in a strong swim. The bike section had a little mishap, that possibly cost our team some time, but as soon as I got off the bike, I literally just ran! I’m in very good running form at present, and the run segment was only 1.7km, but I managed to beat 3 more athletes, thus putting my team into the 8th place overall. I was thrilled with all the support from my club whilst racing and it enabled me to dig deeper. In fact, I managed to put in the second best run split overall, by just two seconds!’
In the last days, Bonello Spiteri entered two cycling races in the UCI World Tour held in Syros, Greece. She was first in her category and second overall in the Time-Trail race on Thursday, while she got the same result again in a mass-start races on Sunday. This enabled Danica to qualify for the UCI World Championships which will be staged in Copenhagen, Denmark, this September.
Other Maltese cyclists produced some great results in Skyros, namely Marie-Claire Aquilina by winning both races as well as Etienne Bonello and James Mifsud by placing in the overall standing and claiming podium finishes in the men races.
Through participation of these races, Danica Bonello Spiteri is on the right track towards producing a strong performance in her upcoming European Games in Baku in June. Participation at these events was possible through kind assistance from Malta Olympic Committee, KMS Flexischeme, Malta Triathlon Federation, Ecco, Quest Vitamins, BBB Bike parts, BuffMalta, Club CTOA, along with Liliana Spiteri (Holland) and Nuria Blanco (Spain).
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