Lucy Buckingham took an impressive win at IM70.3 Knokke-Heist after leading the race from start to finish. After an exciting sprint, she broke the tape in a time of 4:13:57. Lizzie Rayner had to settle for second (GBR; 4:14:06) with Emilie Morier (FRA; 4:15:31) rounding out the podium.
Toeing the line for a race in Belgium, where the BMC Pro Tri Team is based, there was no lack of motivation for Lucy Buckingham. With that motivation and a strong current in the Nord Sea, Lucy Buckingham took the lead in the swim right away. As an excellent swimmer, she managed to open up a gap of 1 minute over the first chasers, coming back to shore.
On the bike, Lucy got into her rhythm straight away and stretched her lead out to 3 minutes after the first 30k. Keeping her pace high, she added another 2 minutes to that advantage at the 60k mark to eventually enter T2 with a 5’30 lead and a 2h16 bike split.
On the 3 loop out-and-back run course, it was all about managing that lead. Buckingham started off with a perfect pace. Halfway through the run, her advantage had come down 3’30 over a hard charging Rayner. On the final run lap, the BMC athlete dug deep to stay in control of the race. With a final push towards the finish line, Lucy Buckingham came home victorious in a time of 4:13:57.
In her post-race interview the BMC Pro Triathlete shared her thoughts on a well-earned victory: “I am so happy with this victory. I’ve had a rough year with injuries and health issues, so to come here and do what I did is something to be really proud of. The swim was really hard. I’ve been out of the pool for seven days, which is a lot for an athlete that normally swims almost every day. With the current today, it was super quick. I actually found that more difficult to split the race up to be honest. The final kilometers on the run were so hard. I could hear the crowd getting louder and louder and I knew that Lizzie was coming. I genuinely thought she had me. I just dug deep and I’m really happy that I hung on. I really wanted to do it for my team as I was racing in Belgium, where my team is based.”
Teammate Pablo Dapena Gonzalez 6th on his comeback
Pablo entered T1 in 4th position and settled well inside the first chase group on the bike. Without losing too much time, he tried to conserve as much energy as possible to make his move on the run. And making his move he did. Dapena racked his BMC Speedmachine in 13th place and then started his charge through the field. After 4k, he already moved up into 8th. The Spaniard wanted more and passed the halfway mark in 7th place. With a great final push in the last kilometers, he moved up another spot to cross the finish line in 6th position in a time of 3:43:34.