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Injured Eksteen battles

A bad fall in training last week cost South African triathlete Claude Eksteen dearly in Portugal on Sunday.

Eksteen had arrived to the 2009 Pontevedra ITU Triathlon Premium European Cup in Portugal full of hope but ended up only placing 44th.

‘My training in Australia had been going really well. I learnt so many new things with my new coach.’ But he took a heavy fall whilst training on his bike last week and suffered bad bruising to the ribs.

Sunday’s race was held in cold and rainy conditions that greeted the 80 or so athletes who started the Pontevedra ITU event .

Only 65 of them finished. ‘Last year the weather was shocking and half the field didn’t finish,’ said Claude prior to the race.

This year was no better. Temperatures of 10 degrees and rain and the water temperature for the swim at 14 degrees.

‘I have a really low body fat percentage so the cold is always a huge challenge for me… but there’s nothing you can do about it… You have to kick as on matter what…’ said Claude before the race.

A 19-minute swim certainly put him way down the field.

Starting the 40km bike leg in the second group, he was caught by the third bunch. ‘It was really difficult to breathe so I just ran to the finish. It’s really irritating and frustrating. I’ve worked so hard but bad luck has cost me big time. I’m underperforming and just because of things beyond my control I have not been able to put in the results that my training form shows me I’m capable of.ÔÇØ

Eksteen ended 44th place overall, completing the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run in 1:50:36 with splits of 19:01; 58:38 and 32:56 respectively. The race was won by Dmitry Polyansky who beat the hot local favourite Javier Gomez by four seconds.

‘My next race is the Gladbeck Triathlon, the first of the Bundesliga Races. After that I will join my training group in Davos and plan the rest of my season from there,’ said Eksteen.

Eksteen will hope his luck turns as he is in the hunt for ranking points which will get him into the big events and earn him some good money.