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European Duathlon Championships

Nick Shasha qualified to race for the Great Britain age group team at the prestigious European Duathlon Championships in Limmerick. With the best European duathletes lining up, the racing would be hard and very fast. Well, our TORQ-sponsored athlete did not disappoint; this is what Nick had to say about the race...

Over the years I’ve been running and cycling, I’ve been fortunate enough to haul my lycra around some pretty amazing places.  I’ve climbed Alpe D’Huez, raced around the winter streets of Zurich and represented Great Britain in exciting street circuits through Budapest and Nancy.  It’s fair to say that in that sort of company, Limerick, Ireland isn’t exactly up there.  I dare to say that I was marginally less than emphatically enthralled about the prospect of visiting and racing in a town described by all I asked as 'pretty nasty'.

Well, expectations mean little without experience, so yet again I found myself in the departure lounge of another airport having just dropped off my bike bag and waiting with some trepidation for a few days in Limerick, the venue for the 2011 European duathlon championships.  Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite being worse for wear, Limerick was a reasonably interesting town with some cafes and a geography that was fairly conducive to fast duathlon racing; flat!

Come race day and I made my usual early start with a large breakfast followed by a TORQ Pineapple and Ginger bar washed down with some Natural Orange TORQ energy drink, which was then placed on the Merida for the bike leg of my race.  As well as being my first race in Ireland this was to be my first race on the lean green machine also known as the 'Merida Time Warp Team'.  I was initially apprehensive about testing her out in her first race when the stakes were so high, but I was at least happy that I had done a few test laps of the course beforehand.  I needn’t have worried as the Merida was extremely comfortable and composed throughout the race.

At the start line I found myself chatting to 2 of the pre-race favourites, also GB team mates; Lee Rankin and Stewart Guynan.  Pre-race nerves led one of us to say something along the lines of “Let’s all try and make the podium”, a statement that appealed to all three of us.  The die was cast.

The horn went for the first run and I decided to go off fast.  Within a kilometre or so it was clearly myself and Phil Holland (from the 30-34 age group) that were leading the field and creating a reasonable lead.  At just before 6k, Phil nudged ahead and I kept going at my own pace comfortable that I was bringing home a reasonable advantage to take to the bike.  Clearing the first 10k in 32.59 I made a swift transition and almost immediately suffered a bout of cramp!  Fortunately it soon passed and I re-hydrated with my TORQ Energy and had the 2nd of 3 TORQ Banoffee gels.  All five laps of the bike passed without incidence and the Merida took the sharp corners in her stride with safe and predictable handling.  I’ve also rather attached to my somewhat tasty carbon finish Limar Speed Demon helmet that just has to be the coolest looking aero hat around.

Out onto the 2nd run and I felt in pretty good shape so I just tried to keep my composure and hammer down whatever I had left.  At the finish I was pretty well wrecked, but then came the agonising wait until the results were announced in the evening and waiting until then to learn that.....I....had....got....bronze!  What made it even better was that our pre-race prediction was bang on and we made the entire podium red, white and blue.

Many years of dedication and support came before this medal so thanks to everyone including both TORQ and the tri team sponsors that are:

Delicious, natural and healthy nutrition: www.torqfitness.co.uk  
Frames – Merida: www.merida-bikes.com  
Cycle Shoes – Lake: www.lakecycling.co.uk  
Helmets – Limar: www.limarhelmets.com  
Cables – Jagwire: www.jagwireusa.com  
Aerobars – USE: www.use1.com  
Wetsuits – 2XU: www.2xu.com  
Wheels – Fast Forward: www.ffwdwheels.com  
Powermeters – Powertap: www.cycleops.com

All photographs c/o Jolekha Shasha