THORNBURY'S Ashley de Lotz bagged cross triathlon gold at the European Championships.

Representing Great Britain in the 30-34 age group in Targu-Mures, Romania, de Lotz took on the 1000m open water swim, 25km mountain bike and a 7km trail run with convincing aplomb.

"I represented GB for the first time in 2017, where I only managed a 5th and last year I raced the World Champs and came 4th. So, I was highly motivated this year to get on the podium and settle unfinished business, " revealed Ashley.

The Thornbury athlete found the course a big test, but he was calmness personified throughout.

He added: "The course was quite undulating with some really steep climbs, so there was little opportunity to take on hydration and nutrition.

"The weather was pretty much perfect as well, despite heavy thunderstorms during the week the course dried out nicely, meaning it was flat out racing from start-to-finish.

"The race started well, as it was a non-wetsuit swim due to the high temperatures, which I prefer as my swimming is quite strong compared to some of the other athletes. I managed to stay out of trouble and find some clear water. I exited the water in third place without expending too much energy and set off on the bike with the front two within my sights.

"For the first 10/ 15 mins my legs felt terrible, just super heavy and empty.

"Fortunately, this went away as I rode and I started getting into the rhythm of things. I managed to catch both 2nd and 1st place within the first lap of the bike and just kept pushing forwards. I knew that 2nd place was racing professionally the last few years, so I wanted to try and put some time into him before the run. As the bike is probably my strongest discipline of the three. Whilst the bike was fun it was also tough, the steep inclines and heat made it difficult but I managed to ride within myself to ensure I had something left for the run.

"Coming off the bike I was terrified that they were gaining on me, as being in the forest it was difficult to see how far behind they were. So, I focused on racing forwards and catching anyone that what ahead of me. I ran hard but controlled on the first lap and then went flat out on the 2nd lap. My legs were screaming but I just kept focusing on racing forwards and going as fast as I could.

"I crossed the line in 1st place with a 2-minute gap to 2nd - I couldn’t believe that I had done it, after catching my breath and making sure I wasn’t going to throw up I found my wife and gave her a hug.

"It still doesn’t feel real to be honest, I was the fastest Brit and 9th amateur overall. I’m incredibly happy and will be looking to build on this, hopefully this performance will mean I can be selected for the World Champs in 2020 and I can have a shot at that. Plus trying to defend my European title of course."

"I couldn’t have done this without the support from my friends, family and sponsors, so a massive thanks to all of them. I’m hoping to race the cross-country mountain bike national champs later this month do another race on the XTERRA European tour in September, before taking a bit of a break and starting to work on my fitness for 2020. It’s taken a few years to get here but it feels incredible now that I have done it, I initially had the dream of doing this in 2016 so to have achieved it in only 3 years is brilliant."