By Masa Takaya on 24/06/11 at 9:06 pm
The 2011 Pontevedra ETU European Triathlon Championships got underway beneath cloudless blue skies today with the men’s and women’s junior races. The day belonged to Germany, as Hanna Philippin (GER) took the top honors in the women’s race, while Justus Nieschlag (GER) won the men’s competition.
The women’s junior competition proved to be an exciting race, with several unexpected lead changes. Philippin was not a threat for the majority of the women’s race, exiting the water 44 seconds after top swimmer Lucy Hall (GBR). Hall increased her 10-second lead to 15 on the second lap of the bike.
The third lap proved to be a pivotal point in the race, however, as the two chase groups joined together to overtake Hall. Philippin, who was in the first chase group, slowly chipped away at the lead, decreasing her distance from the top spot each lap. By the final two laps of the bike, Charlotte Deldaele (BEL), Sara Vilic (CRO), Eszter Pap (HUN), Philippin and Hall controlled the front of the pack, trailed by a group of nearly 30 females.
Annika Vossing (GER), who was three seconds down at the second transition, joined teammate Philippin on the run. Together, the ladies hammered out the first lap, followed closely by Hungary’s Eszter Pap. With Vossing leading, the three enjoyed an eight-second lead heading into the final lap.
Vossing and Phillipin looked to gain podium spots on the final stretch of the run when Vossing mistakenly took a wrong turn she could not recover from. Teammate Phillipin overtook her and ran to a 19-second win over Hungary’s Eszter Dudas and Pap.
“I am surprised I won,” Phillipin said. “My goal was to be in the top ten. The swim is not my best discipline. I am very good on the run, as you can see. The bike was very hard because of the hills. I was in the very big group behind on the bike so I could run very good.
Dudas, who ran a tremendous final lap to overcome a 20-second deficit, went head-to-head with teammate Pap for second place. Dudas edged Pap by two seconds to take silver, while Pap collected the bronze.
“It was a bit of luck finishing second because the German girl (Vossing) went the wrong way,” Dudas said. “It was the best finish of my life. I am very happy.”
In the men’s race, Nieschlag challenged the competition soon after the start. Alois Knabl (AUT) and Peter Nemeth (AUT) exited the water first with a 14-second lead. The Austrians headed out first on the bike, closely followed by the first chase group that was just five seconds down. The second chase group were not out of sight, trailing just 20 seconds following the first lap, where Nieschlag was working to close the gap.
Midway through, the Austrians were joined by 20 men to make up the lead group, headed by Martin Debnar (CZE) and Diego PazSobreira (ESP). A chase pack of 12 athletes trailed by just ten seconds. In the third lap, Nieschlag took control of the bike.
While he entered T2 first, Jelle Geens (BEL) had a very speedy transition and ran out ahead of Nieschlag by a second. However, the quick transition couldn’t hold off Matthias Steinwandter (ITA), who has won two of the last four European Cups.
Despite being down 13 seconds, Steinwandter crushed the run to gain a six-second lead. The group of Geens, Nieschlag, Delian Stateff (ITA), Renning Elischer (GER), Martin Debnar (CZE) and Raphael Montoya (FRA) fought for a podium position in the chase group.
Steinwandter held onto his lead until the final turn when Nieschlag blasted past him for a three-second win.
“The race was very hard because of the heat and the biking course,” Nieschlag said. “I tried to go with the group but it didn’t work. The finish was great. I just kept on going. I was five or ten seconds behind. On the last corner, I tried to run past him.”
Geens followed Nieschlag’s lead and sped past a fading Steinwandter in the final 200 meters to take second, giving third to Steinwandter.
“I’m very excited,” Geens said. “I never expected it. Normally the swim is my weakest point, but today I was in the first group. That never happens. Then I put everything on my run because I used to be a runner. It felt really good.”
European Championships continue tomorrow with the men and women’s elite races. For live timing updates, click here.
|4.||Elena Maria Petrini||ITA||01:06:07|
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