Natalie Van Coevorden is an Australian representative in Triathlon, having competed on the world stage since she left high school in 2010. The 24-year-old was born in Campbelltown, NSW and now splits her residence between Wollongong, NSW and Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain for training purposes. Van Coevorden has set her sights on representing Australia in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and is training and competing relentlessly to achieve her goal.
Heading back to Stockholm for the fifth time I actually felt like a bit of a local. I arrived in Stockholm calm and motivated to deliver a good to a performance on race day. After Montreal WTS I was really disappointed not being able to put a race together that showed where I am currently at, on course really suited me. I was flat from the gun and my body couldn’t handle the high-power spikes. We had a few days of training easy after we got back and this gave me ample time to self-reflect and stop second guessing myself. I had a French Grand Prix in Embrun in the French Alps the next weekend and this was a good non-pressure race to do the basics right. I had a good result there finishing 6th with a solid breakaway up the climb and a win for my team Poissy Triathlon.
Race day in Stockholm was slightly cold, sunny but quite windy. I stood on the pontoon surrounded by very strong swimmers including Jess Learmonth beside me. Stockholm water conditions are very choppy which I think suits me as it turns into a strength swim. They held us for a very long time and I think a lot of people were very close to false starting. I got on feet early and into a good position around the first buoy which was 460m away. The swim was fast and I dove back in for the second lap just off fourth place, putting myself in a good position for the second half. The pace got faster and I really had to push to hold feet but I couldn’t and came out of the water just under 10 seconds to the front group of four.
I had hung my bike up in transition on a reflector bracket for a quick transition. Unfortunately, I got to my spot in transition and with the wind and with people starting to un-rack their bikes, my bike and helmet fell off as I was taking off my wetsuit. I tried to kept cool, put my bike back on as I had to put my helmet on first. I lost the people I swam with and had over 10 seconds to now make up. I was trying to keep cool and not be too frustrated as I couldn’t turn back time.
I pushed really hard for the first lap and found some motivated people to ride with for the first lap till we caught the people I exited the water with. The course involves cobbles uphill, downhill, some technical components and a flatter straight back to transition. I actually felt really good riding and the past couple of weeks with work on my skills and some hard rides at pace, I knew I had the ability to be there. I was focussed, alert and aware of my positioning within the group. I remember from last year, I had so many more high power spikes as I was sitting way too far back in the group. The bike was strange. It was very up and down in pace and we put time into the group behind us then we would lose it. With about 3 laps to go, I would say this was my “hot lap”. The pace sky rocketed and we dropped girls out of our group. I hung tight and knew that I had to be smart where I was. I have had a learning year in 2017 on my nutrition leading into a race and during the race. I am very grateful for the advice I have been getting and the small improvements have made a huge difference in the way my body feels especially leading into the run.
Starting the run, we ended up not having as much time on the chasing group as I would have liked. My feet were actually still frozen and it took time for them to warm up. I have been working on my run form from easy to hard runs and being more efficient. I kept composed, tried to keep my arms and cadence up. The girls went out pretty hard the first lap and they basically kept the same distance ahead the whole run. Another girl and I kept ticking away till the end and started to pick up people who went out with the front girls from our group. We had a little sprint finish up the final hill and I finished in 12th.
Stockholm is a very demanding course and I am happy to keep moving forward this year with another consistent result for 2017. My last ITU for the year will be in Rotterdam at the World Championships in three weeks’ time.