Photo: Gerrit-Willems/European Triathlon

By Kent Gray/
Box satisfactorily ticked.

That was Dylan McCullough’s overarching takeaway from his bronze medal performance at European Triathlon Premier Cup Holten overnight.

It was a pleasing return to action for the Paris Olympic Games debutant in his first race in seven weeks.

The 23-year-old Aucklander showed no ill-effects from the stress fracture to his left fibula that forced him to withdraw on the run at WTCS Yokohama in May 11 and shelve plans to race WTCS Cagliari the following weekend as a precaution.

“I’m happy to be on the podium here in Holten,” McCullough said after following Dutchman Mitch Kolkman and Brazilian Manoel Messias across the line in The Netherlands.

“Any European race is always tough, no matter what, especially with 70 guys racing, so I’m pleased to get on the steps. The top four from today are also racing in Paris, so it was a strong field.“

Kolkman won the continental cup sprint in 53:11, six seconds clear of Messias who produced a best of the day 5km split of 15:53 to overtake McCullough for silver.

McCullough had led out of the water and stole a march on the field in a two-man breakaway on the bike with Kolkman before closing out his day with a 16:59 run, the 12th best split for what proved further than the advertised 5km.  

“The aim was to get some race conditioning after not racing for a while, so the result wasn’t so much the goal, it was more getting everything right and just racing as hard as possible from start to finish,” McCullough said.

“Which I did, leading the swim, then a good two man breakaway with Mitch and finishing with a strong run over 5.6km.”

One interesting takeaway for the former Youth Olympics gold medalist was how his body reacted after coming down from an altitude camp at Font Romeu in southern France.
“I’ve never raced straight off altitude, three days after, so it was good to try. I didn’t feel super great, so that’s good to know for future.”

McCullough will spend the next 10 days training at Tri NZ’s European summer base in Banyoles, Spain before being joined in Hamburg by Paris team-mates Nicole van der Kaay, Ainsley Thorpe, reserves Tayler Reid and Brea Roderick and Cantabrian Saxon Morgan for the World Sprint & Relay Championships.

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