NEIL COLLINS secured Portsmouth Duathlon success as he stepped up a gear in his preparations for a big summer of racing.
The triathlete, from Southsea, will represent Great Britain at the 2015 Triathlon European Championships in July.
He picked out the opening race of Rob Piggott’s duathlon series as an ideal starting point for his season.
It proved to be just that as the Tri Club Port Solent competitor raced to victory.
He finished the first 5k run in third place, with a time of 17min 57sec.
A quick transition at Speaker’s Corner, in Southsea, took him into the bike leg with the lead and there was no catching him from there.
He completed the 15k cycle course, out to Eastney and back around Southsea Common, with a 24.28 clocking and then finished the second 5k run in 18.22 for a total time of 1.01.46, including transitions.
His strength showed, giving him a nice confidence booster ahead of his exciting trip to Switzerland for the European Championships.
Collins said: ‘I’m primarily a triathlete and I have qualified to represent Team GB in the 40-44 age group at the European Championships in Geneva.
‘I started in triathlon five years ago and worked my way up. I’ve done all the distances, from sprint up to iron distance.
‘Now I’ve come back down to the shorter races and, over the years, I have just got faster.
‘I live in Southsea and I like to support the local races.
‘The duathlon is a great event to get the season going and we got some decent weather for it.
‘I was fairly confident I could podium but you never know who will turn up on the day.
‘I’ll definitely look to do more of these races.’
Defending series champion Patryk Huczkowski was second in 1.04.03, while the final podium spot went to Chichester Westgate Triathlon Club athlete Dan Winkworth (1.04.33).
Petersfield’s Rachel Clay completed a dominant success in the ladies’ race.
She finished well clear of her nearest rival with a time of 1.10.31.
Hayley King, from Portsmouth Triathletes, was second in 1.18.39, with Victoria Hunt third (1.18.53).
Clay, who has represented Great Britain in triathlons, was happy with her performance.
She said: ‘It was really good. I haven’t raced since last September so it was a bit of a shock to the system.
‘It’s always a buzz racing in Southsea with fast, flat roads.
‘Doing a duathlon is a good warm-up for the season.
‘We don’t really want to get in the sea just yet!
‘This year I will probably race some of the nationals in my age group.’
Organiser Piggott was pleased to see the sold-out first event produce a great atmosphere on Sunday.
He said: ‘I was really pleased with it. There was good camaraderie out on the course.
‘Neil Collins was breezing it through the runs. I was on the lead bike and he was having a chat with me.
‘Rachel Clay produced a solid performance, while Hayley King is my tip to watch for the overall series.’
Race two of the duathlon series, sponsored by Aces Ltd, takes place on Sunday, April 12.