Pontevedra European Championships Preview

Pontevedra European Championships Preview

By Masa Takaya on 23/06/11 at 7:07 pm

The four top-ranked triathletes in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series standings will go head-to-head at the 2011 ETU Triathlon European Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, this weekend.

Alistair Brownlee (GBR), Alexander Brukhankov (RUS), Javier Gomez (ESP) and Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) headline the tough field, that includes seven of the top-10 ranked men in the world. Meanwhile, the women’s competition will be wide open, and emerging talents will try to make their mark in the absence of several of the top athletes.

Last year, the European titles went to Alistair Brownlee, who edged out his rival Gomez by 40 seconds, and Nicola Sprig of Switzerland. Pontevedra first appeared on the ITU race calendar in 2008 as host of the ITU Triathlon Premium European Cup. It has staged the event the past three years. Gomez has never missed the podium in Pontevedra and claimed the top spot in 2008 and 2010.

The individual competitions are scheduled for Saturday and the Team Triathlon for Sunday afternoon. The European Championships have a long history with the 4 x mixed, super-sprint relay triathlon, and the International Triathlon Union is bidding to have the format included at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Elite Men’s Preview:
The first question this weekend is who can beat the unstoppable defending champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain. The 2009 world champion and current series leader won rounds two and three of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series in Madrid and Kitzb├╝hel this month, and sits as an obvious favorite in the field. His younger brother Jonathan was the runner-up in Madrid, racing side by side with Alistair until a few hundred meters before the finish line. Jonathan also finished in runnerup in Sydney ahead of his brother, who slipped running on the wet pavement and came in a disappointing 29th. This weekend will be the third time the Brownlees compete in the same field.

Crowds of more than 30,000 are expected to show up, hoping to see 2010 world champion Javier Gomez top the podium. The 2002 world champion, Ivan Rana (ESP), will also be boosted by the crowd’s big cheers.

Russia’s ace Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) finished fourth in Madrid, and was runner-up in Kitzb├╝hel, Austria, completing the 10k run only five seconds behind Alistair. His teammates Dmitry Polyansky (RUS) and Valentin Meshcheryakov (RUS) are also strong contenders, currently ranked sixth and 17th respectively. Others to keep an eye on include David Hauss (FRA), Laurent Vidal (FRA), Alessandro Fabian (ITA), and Joao Silva (POR), who are all ranked within the top 20, along with 2007 world champion Daniel Unger (GER).

Click here for the men’s start list.

Elite Women’s Preview:
In the women’s contest, spots on the podium are pretty much open for anybody, as some of the top European names are missing this weekend, including Helen Jenkins (GBR), Lisa Norden (SWE) and Daniela Ryf (SUI). Team France has sent 21-year old Emmie Charayron (FRA), ranked 12th in the current series standings. Charayron was the surprise bronze medallist at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Madrid in 2010 and 2011. Her teammate Carole Peon (FRA), ranked 15th, is also a favourite. The 2010 European championships silver medallist finished in fourth at the series opener in Sydney.

Other contenders to watch include Ainhoa Murua (ESP), currently ranked 21st, who finished in third at the 2010 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup, and her teammates Zurine Rodriguez (ESP) and Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP). Dane Helle Frederiksen (DEN) came in fourth in unusually hot weather at the ITU World Cup in Monterrey last month. Aileen Morrison (IRL), who claimed silver at the ITU World Cup in Ishigaki, Japan; Jodie Stimpson, ranked 17th in the world; and 20th-ranked Melanie Annaheim (SUI), are also vying for spots on the podium.

Click here for the women’s start list.

The Elite Women’s race is set to start at 12:30 p.m. (UTC/GMT +2) on Saturday, while the Elite Men’s race will start at 7:00 p.m. (UTC/GMT +2). The Elite Team Triathlon will start at 3:30 p.m. (UTC/GMT +2) on Sunday. Live coverage including timing and interactive text updates will be available on www.triathlon.org. Follow live updates on Twitter at twitter.com/triathlonlive.

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