European Champs this weekend

European Champs this weekend

By ITU Admin on 22/06/07 at 12:00 am

More than 140 of Europe’s best triathletes from 32 countries will descend on Copenhagen, Denmark this weekend for the 2007 ETU Triathlon European Championships.  All medalists from 2006 will return to vie for one of their most prized races of the season.  Some of triathlon’s biggest names will take the start line in the talented and deep men’s and women’s fields.

Watch live coverage now.

Portuguese star Vanessa Fernandes enters as the heavy favourite to win the women’s title for the fourth consecutive year.  The defending champion has been her typical dominant self in 2007.  Despite opening her season with a third place finish at the Mooloolaba BG Triathlon World Cup to halt her streak of 12 straight World Cup titles, Fernandes roared back with a string of impressive wins in Ishigaki, Lisbon and Madrid.  Fernandes moved into second place on the list of world cup winners with 16, inching ever closer to Emma Carney’s all-time record.  She also scored a convincing win at the Duathlon World Championships in Gyor, Hungary in May. 

Since the 2004 Olympics, Fernandes has only ever lost to one woman, her Australian rival Emma Snowsill.  So who will step up and challenge the woman who has virtually owned this race?

Anja Dittmer finished second to Fernandes last year in Autun, France and was European Champion in 1999.  The German veteran has been steady in the 2007 BG Triathlon World Cup series but not spectacular.  She has finished in the top ten in all three races she’s competed in but none higher than a sixth place finish. 

Brit Michelle Dillon will also be one to watch.  The 2001 European Champion has been on the podium twice this year and is now number nine in the world.  Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig has also done well in the world cup series, finishing in the top ten in her last three races.

Other serious contenders include last year’s bronze medalist Nadia Cortassa of Italy, Elizabeth May of Luxembourg, German Christiane Pilz and Andrea Whitcombe of Great Britain.

In the wide open men’s field, two-time defending champion Frederic Belaubre of France comes in wearing the number one start number but hasn’t competed on the world cup circuit so far in 2007 due to injury.  He’ll be in tough and will have to contend with a host of competitors eager to dethrone him. 

Most notably among the Frenchman’s challengers is world number one Javier Gomez who is primed to win his first European title.  He is the only man to make the podium in every world cup race he’s entered in so far in 2007, including a win in Lisbon and silver medals in Mooloolaba and Madrid. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year among the men is the performance of rookie Alexander Brukhankov.  The young Russian star has been on the world cup podium twice this year, including silver last weekend in Edmonton, Canada, and currently sits number four in the world. 

Reigning World Champion Tim Don is back in the mix after solid results in Madrid and Des Moines.  His compatriots Oliver Freeman and Will Clarke will make this a race to watch for the Brits.

Czech veteran Filip Ospaly has also been impressive on the world cup scene this year.  The 2001 European Champion out-dueled Gomez for the Madrid title, and took silver in Lisbon.

But the Danish fans will all be cheering for hometown favorite Rasmus Henning who’s coming off a huge win in Des Moines, Iowa two weeks ago.  In the talent-deep field, it was Henning who rose to the occasion to win the richest prize in triathlon history, US$200,000 while driving away with a brand new Hummer.  That win, coupled with a top five finish in Lisbon, has taken him to number eight in the world.

Athletes will swim two laps in one of the canals of the sea.  Then they will bike eight laps and run four laps in the heart of Copenhagen, passing in front of the Tivoli and the Black Diamond, nickname of the national library.  It will finish in front of the Town Hall. 

Watch live coverage now.

Click here for more information including schedules and start lists

Click here for full results from the 2006 European Championships

Click here for live coverage of the European Championships


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