Handsling-sponsored Simon Davis had the race of his career at the Elite European Duathlon Championships in Italy. The 21-year-old GB athlete from Devon crossed the finishing line in second place U23 and eleventh overall in the elite men’s field. This is a diary of his race weekend, giving a fascinating insight into duathlon race prep and format. Simon's top tip - don't forget your SRAM mech batteries!
- Simon Davis
- Elite triathlete and duathlete
- Races for GB, the University of Nottingham (domestically) and Lys Calais Triathlon (French Grand Prix)
- 2023 U23 European Duathlon Champs silver medalist
- 2022 U23 World Duathlon Champs bronze medalist
Thursday: Travel and bike prep
After landing late in the day we quickly got a taxi to the hotel in Caorle, about an hour north of Venice. I dropped off my bags, changed into some run kit and went out for a short jog to shake out my legs after the travel. This was quickly followed by dinner with a couple of the other Brits racing.
Once I was back in the hotel, I started to build my bike, at which point I realised I’d left something important in the UK. My Sram batteries! Luckily, after some frantic messaging, I managed to source some spares that I could pick up the next day in plenty of time before the race.
Friday: Course recce and race briefing
This was the real start of the race preparation. I started off the morning by checking out the run course, a super flat, fast course, but with some tight corners about halfway round the lap. Then later in the day we had the bike course familiarisation. The course was flat with lots of long straights broken up by 90-degree corners and some dodgy areas of tarmac. After riding the course a few times, I was happy with the layout and the lines I needed to take.
Finally, we finished off the day with our pre-race briefing. This is where the officials talk us through everything to do with the race: timings, the course, behaviour rules etc. Once back at the hotel I did some stretching and packed my bag ready for the race.
Saturday: Race day
Pre race: The morning of the race, after breakfast, I went for a short spin on the bike with a couple of short efforts to test the legs. I then spent the rest of the day relaxing, trying to do as little as possible until the race. Around 3pm I made my way over to the race venue to check in and rack my bike in transition. Once it was all set up, I began my warm-up. For me, this consists of a run that builds in intensity, followed by some running drills and then finishing with short sprints to get my heart rate up.
Run: Finally, it was time to start racing. The first run was 4.5k which I finished in 13:16 about 30sec back from the front group of runners. However, I was in the mix of U23 athletes and had controlled my run to feel good on the bike.
Bike: I had a quick transition and immediately started to apply pressure on the bike, going into corners first and going through them quicker than the other athletes so they had to chase to get back on. After a lap I was in a chase pack of around 10 athletes but frustratingly no one wanted to work together to catch the front guys and any attempt to breakaway was shut down quickly. Despite this we did make up some ground to the front group, coming into transition around 20sec back.
Run: Now it was time for the hardest part of the race, the second run. This was 3k long which I completed in 9:07. I crossed the finish line 2nd U23 and 11th out of the entire elite men’s field.
Post Race and future goals
I was very happy with the result, showing good progress from last year and meeting all the goals I set for myself prior to the race. I am now looking forward to the next month or so where I will be preparing to, once again, represent GB at the World Duathlon Champs in Ibiza!