Open Water-Dutch duo Weertman and Van Rouwendaal win 10km titles

GLASGOW — Ferry Weertman won the men's European Championships open water 10-km title after the most dramatic of photo finishes in Loch Lomond on Thursday to complete a Dutch double after Sharon van Rouwendaal had won the equivalent women's race.

Olympic champion Weertman had looked beaten coming into the final 100 meter sprint to the line but produced a remarkable last-gasp surge to touch the finishing board fractionally ahead of the long-time leader, Hungary's Kristof Rasovszky.

After their exhausting slog, Weertman and Rasovszky were given the same time of one hour 49 minutes 28.2 seconds. It was so close that it took several minutes before the judges confirmed the 26-year-old Dutchman had touched first.

Earlier, Olympic champion Van Rouwendaal completed the double which had narrowly eluded the men's 5km winner Rasovszky when she added the blue riband 10 km title to the 5km gold she had won 24 hours earlier.

In the chilly waters of Loch Lomond with the rain coming down at the end, the 24-year-old proved as relentless over the near-two hour slog as she had done on Wednesday, setting the pace for all but the first km of the race.

Entering the last of the four 2.5km laps, only Italy's Giulia Gabrielleschi could still hang on to Van Rouwendaal's pace as it turned into a two-swimmer duel but even the dogged Italian was eventually broken over the final km.

Van Rouwendaal, the Olympic champion at the distance, forged away to win by 7.3 seconds in one hour 54 minutes 45.7 seconds. Behind Gabrielleschi (1:54:53.0) came Van Rouwendaal's Dutch teammate, Esmee Vermeulen who took the bronze in 1:55:27.4.

Van Rouwendaal now has her sights set on winning four golds at the championships as she targets Saturday's 5km mixed team relay and Sunday's individual 25km event.

Nicola Spirig, one of the great triathlon exponents the sport has seen, added yet another title to her golden collection when she swam, cycled and ran to the most emphatic victory in the European Championships on Thursday.

The Swiss lawyer and mother-of-two, the oldest woman in the race at 36, was still in a different class to her opponents as she sped away with her sixth European triathlon title by more than half-a-minute to dethrone Britain's Jess Learmonth.

On a demandingly hot afternoon at Strathclyde Country Park near Glasgow, she covered the 1,500 meters swim, 40km cycle ride and 10km run in one hour 59 minutes 13 seconds, having broken Learmonth on the final leg.

Spirig, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 silver medalist, had been 51 seconds down on Learmonth when she emerged from the swim but with a magnificent, solitary ride managed to pull back the lead on the Briton and France's Cassandre Beaugrand.

After Beaugrand was dropped in the cycle section, it came down to a road-running duel with Spirig making a much swifter transition than the Briton, immediately picking up a few seconds at the start of the run before then powering away.

Learmonth, who made an admirable defense of the title she won in Kitzbuhel last year, eventually finished in 1:59:46, 33 seconds behind, while Beaugrand took the bronze in 2:00:57.

Yet the pursuers could not get near Spirig, a serial winner since she won her first European junior crown 19 years ago. It was another remarkable success story for Spirig, who juggles her training with being a mother to two small children, running a foundation to help young sportspeople and leading a series of mini-triathlon races for children across Switzerland. — Reuters