Holmes in top eight

Luke Holmes en route to an eighth-place finish in the ETU Junior Cup

LUKE Holmes kicked off his 2024 triathlon season with an impressive eighth-place finish in the warm climate of the Algarve, Portugal, in the ETU Junior Cup.

Selected for the GB squad again following his debut at the Euro Youth championships in Spain in 2023, Quarteira marked the first race of the campaign for the Commonwealth Youth Games champion, and also his first in the Junior age category having moved up for 2024.

The event showcased 70 athletes from 19 countries, all tackling the 750m swim, 20.1km bike and 5km run and a strong display from Team GB athletes saw six finish in the top ten.

The 750m swim started with a sprint from the beach into the choppy waters of the Atlantic. By the time the athletes emerged back up the steep climb of the beach around eight minutes later, Holmes was well positioned in 13th, 12 seconds behind the leader, Márton Kropkó of Hungary.

The early stages of the cycle course were fast and hectic as the strung-out field went through the initial phase of fighting to form bike packs. Holmes latched onto a 16-strong lead pack but found it tough to hang on to begin with.

Holmes said: “I really struggled for a lot of the first lap of the bike. I don’t know why my legs felt so bad, I was close to getting dropped but, as I warmed up, my legs felt better.”

As Holmes regained his cycling legs he gradually progressed through the lead pack to hold a position close to the front by the end of the first of three laps.

A couple of attempts by other athletes to break away off the front meant the pace remained high but, by the third lap, it settled down and gave the chasing pack of 11 athletes the opportunity to catch the pack, swelling the numbers to 27 as they reached the end of the cycle section.

Holmes held fifth position as they hit the dismount line and a swift transition saw him move up to third ahead of the two-lap run course.

“I think I took the first lap too easy as I was scared I was going to blow up,” added Holmes regarding his 8min 20secs first lap which saw him pass back through transition in ninth position around ten metres adrift of Hector Tolsa, who was 2nd at the European Youth Championships 2023.

Holmes continued: “Hector came past me and I stuck with him until the last kilometre when I realised I still had a good amount of energy left and was feeling in control. So I picked up the pace to get away from him and was able to catch and pass Harry (Maxwell of GB) but was not quite able to hold off Dan (Van Aardt, also of GB) who came through in the sprint.”

Holmes crossed the finish line in eighth, just 50 seconds after winner Izan Edo of Spain, and with a second-lap split of 8min 20secs to exactly match the pace of his first lap.

Holmes continues to set new standards for Jersey triathletes and expressed his delight at taking a top-ten finish on his debut European Cup event.

“The run course was slightly long at about 5.15km, so my time is equivalent to a sub 16min 15secs 5k, which is great for the opening race of the year,” he continued.

The Islander extended his thanks to Jersey Triathlon Club, Jersey Sport and Big Maggys for their continued support.

As the number of international events continues to increase he is seeking additional financial support to aid with travel and race costs. For those interested in helping Holmes’ journey, he can be reached through Jersey Triathlon Club.

Focus shifts to domestic competition next with the British Triathlon Performance Assessment races set for 20-21 April in Nottingham, where Holmes will be looking to repeat his British Super Series title-winning performances of 2023.

Full race results can be found at: triathlon.org/results/result/2024_europe_triathlon_junior_cup_quarteira/628100

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