By Merryn Sherwood on 21/03/11 at 9:15 am
Russia and Norway each came away with a senior European title when Sweden hosted its first ITU European Winter Triathlon championships in Östersund last weekend.
Both fields were stacked with the top winter triathletes with the race just one-week out from the 2011 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships, and the quality showed in both the elite men’s and women’s races with two close finishes.
In the elite men, it was defending world champion champion Andreas Svanebo (SWE) who took an early lead in the run alongside Norway’s Kritian Monson and Russia’s Maxim Kuzmin. Svanebo tried to breakaway in the second lap of the tricky leg, but Kuzmin stuck with him and just slipped into transition ahead of the Swede. Kuzmin then held his lead on the bike and his Russian teammate Pavel Andreev crept up to join him at the front of the pack.
On the final lap, Svanebo moved back into second-place, leading into the final ski-section. But on a difficult and technical course that also included some fast downhill sections, the Russians reigned supreme as Andreev caught Svanebo, to claim the European title by 40seconds. Marek Rauchfuss (CZE) made it into bronze, despite having to serve a 15-second time penalty just before entering the finish chute. Winter Triathlon veteran Sigi Bauer finished fourth.
In the women’s race it was expected to be a battle between the number one and two ranked athletes on the Winter Triathlon World Cup circuit, Sarka Grabmullerova (CZE) and Borghild Lovset (NOR) and it ended-up being exactly that.
Not a lot separated the athletes during the first part of the run, however as the snow began to take its toll on the athletes’ legs it was Grabmullerova, Lovset and USA invitational athlete Emma Garrard who pushed the pace and moved to the front. Just behind them the Russian under23 athlete Margarita Ovsyannikva and her compatriot Tatiana Charochkina were maintaining a good position. Entering the first transition it was Garrard, Lovset and Grabmullerova who all sailed through without problem.
It was out on the bike course that the positions began to change and with the sun coming out there was a little more traction. Chernykh (RUS) was well down the field in the run but showed amazing strength on the bike and moved up higher and higher through the ranking as Garrard slowly dropped down. She moved up into third place as the athletes entered T2 with the lead still being held by Lovset and Grabmullerova still in second place.
In the ski section Lovset pushed the pedal getting further and further away. Only Grabmullerova could stay anywhere near her but she had a powerful Charochkina behind her and could not relax. Enjoying the fast descents and taking control over the climbs and twists and turns it was Lovset who took the crown. Grabmullerova showed all the youngsters that she has unfinished business with a strong second and Charochkina took third.
In the under23 European titles, Maxim Kuzmin won the men’s gold, with Italian Michael Obrist claiming silver and Felix Waldhuber (AUT) bronze. In the women’s under23 race Norway’s Tone Dalen took gold with a truly powerful display of skiing and retained her title. Margarita Ovsyannikva took silver.
The 2011 ITU World Winter Triathlon Championships will be held in Finland this weekend, click here to find out more.
Find more details about this event - 2011 Ostersund ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships