World number one triathletes Javier Gomez and Vanessa Fernandes have a lot in common. Both are the 2006 overall world cup series champions, both are young stars known for winning races in the run, and both have made the podium in every world cup they’ve raced in 2007. Today they shared another accomplishment; both won the 2007 ETU Triathlon European Championships in Copenhagen. But similarities end at the number of titles for each champion. Gomez celebrated his first European crown whereas Fernandes conquered this event for the fourth straight year.
Gomez came into these championships as the prime challenger to Frederic Belaubre’s quest for a third successive title. But the Frenchman had yet to race in the 2007 world cup series. Injury stalled his season while Gomez ascended to number one in the world on the strength of four podium finishes, including a win in Lisbon, Portugal.
After the swim, the Spaniard put himself in good position, just seven seconds behind the leader Belaubre. Midway through the 40-kilometer bike course, it was crowded in the lead group as it swelled to 44 men, all within 13 seconds of each other. The riders worked together and were cautious as the wet conditions caused several flat tires.
Swiss Sebastien Gacond led the field off the bike but had 42 men close behind him as they set out on the 10-kilometer run course. This is where the race would be decided and where Gomez was in his comfort zone. At the halfway point, the lead group was pared down to Gomez, Jan Frodeno and local favourite Rasmus Henning, who was still riding high after winning the world’s richest triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa just two weeks ago. Not far behind was Laurent Vidal of France as well as a pair of Germans Daniel Unger and Maik Petzold.
But Gomez was a man on a mission and soon set a scorching pace that few could keep up with. Frodeno was his last challenger but the Spaniard soon dropped him and took the bell lap solo. With the fastest run time of the day, Gomez powered through the final lap to win his first European Championship with a time of 1:51:58. He adds the highly coveted title to an already remarkable 2007 season and becomes the second Spaniard to win this event and the first since teammate Ivan Rana won back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003.
Germany came through to take the other two spots on the podium with Frodeno winning silver and Unger edging out Henning for bronze. Overall it was solid day for Germany with three in the top five as Petzold crossed the line in fifth spot.
Two-time defending champion Belaubre hadn’t raced all year due to injury and it showed with a seventh place finish, 46 seconds behind Gomez. Other notable include Czech veteran Filip Ospaly in eighth place, last year’s Under23 European champion Will Clarke of Great Britain finishing in 12th place, current world champion Tim Don in 18th spot, and last year’s silver medalist Cedric Fleureton in 26th place.
The irrepressible Vanessa Fernandes knows all too well the feeling of being crowned European champion. She first experienced it in 2004 and every year since then and this year was no different. The win never really seemed in doubt as the world number one virtually led the race from start to finish, adding yet another title to an already impressive 2007 campaign.
Fernandes was first after the swim but had 15 women all just 11 seconds behind her, including her compatriot Anais Moniz, last year’s junior women’s European champion.
On the 40-kilometer bike course, Fernandes didn’t push too hard and chose to stay among the leaders. She headed out onto the run with 25 other women nipping at her heels, all within 18 seconds of each other. The group included several worthy challengers including reigning Olympic champion Kate Allen, Swiss Nicola Spirig, Brit Michelle Dillon, and last year’s runner-up Anja Dittmer of Germany.
But if there was any doubt Fernandes would falter in her bid for a fourth championship, it was quickly dismissed in the 10-kilometer run course. In typical Fernandes fashion, she pushed the pace on the run and distanced herself from the rest of the field. After the first lap, she was up 27 seconds on the chase pack that was narrowed down to Spirig, Dillon, Allen and German Ricarda Lisk. Mid-way through the final leg Fernandes’ lead extended to 48 seconds and it was clear who was going to stand atop the European podium once again.
Fernandes continued to assert herself as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, European triathlete in history, winning the title with a time of 2:02:36. She becomes the first women to win four straight European crowns, and the first to do it since Dutchman Rob Barel won the first four men’s races from 1985 to 1988.
Allen came across the line to win silver, just edging out Spirig by three seconds. Whitcombe just missed out on the podium and finished in fourth place for the second consecutive year. Lisk came across the line for fifth spot.
2007 Copenhagen ETU Triathlon European Championships – Final men’s results:
1st – Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:51:58
2nd – Jan Frodeno (GER) 1:52:15
3rd – Daniel Unger (GER) 1:52:30
4th – Rasmus Henning (DEN) 1:52:32
5th – Maik Petzold (GER) 1:52:35
6th – Laurent Vidal (FRA) 1:52:38
7th – Frederic Belaubre (FRA) 1:52:44
8th – Filip Ospaly (CZE) 1:52:53
9th – Igor Sysoev (RUS) 1:52:56
10th – Bruno Pais (POR) 1:52:56
2007 Copenhagen ETU Triathlon European Championships – Final women’s results:
1st – Vanessa Fernandes (POR) 2:02:36
2nd – Kate Allen (AUT) 2:03:21
3rd – Nicola Spirig (SUI) 2:03:24
4th – Andrea Whitcombe (GBR) 2:03:29
5th – Ricarda Lisk (GER) 2:03:40
6th – Michelle Dillon (GBR) 2:03:49
7th – Anja Dittmer (GER) 2:04:06
8th – Ewa Dederko (POL) 2:04:09
9th – Eva Dollinger (AUT) 2:04:27
10th – Carole Peon (FRA) 2:04:47
Earlier in the day, 40 junior women took the start line. Brit Hollie Avil came out of the water in second place and put in the work during the bike course to lead the field heading into the second transition. Avil blistered the run course with the fastest time and cruised to the junior women’s European title. Last year’s bronze medalist Rebecca Robisch of Germany finished 21 seconds behind Avil to take the silver while another Brit, Kirsty McWilliam came across the line for the bronze.
In the junior men’s division, Brit Alistair Brownlee won bronze last year but was on a mission for gold this time around. He went out onto the bike among the lead pack that included defending champion Aurelien Raphael of France. Despite being down 37 seconds heading into the run course, Brownlee cut into the deficit and took the lead all within the first lap. He coasted to the finish line to take the junior men’s European crown. Unable to repeat, Raphael settled for silver, finishing 19 seconds back. Portugal’s Joao Silva edged out Russian Denis Vasiliev for the bronze.
|Results: Men's AWAD|
|Results: Elite Women|
|Results: Junior Women|
|Results: Men Relay|
|1.||Team I Germany||GER||01:10:03|
|2.||Team I Portugal||POR||01:10:11|
|3.||Team I Russia||RUS||01:10:25|
|4.||Team I Ukraine||UKR||01:10:34|
|5.||Team I Switzerland||SUI||01:10:41|
|Results: Junior Men Relay|
|1.||Team I Russia||RUS||01:11:07|
|2.||Team I France||FRA||01:11:21|
|3.||Team I Italy||ITA||01:11:25|
|4.||Team I Portugal||POR||01:11:32|
|5.||Team I Germany||GER||01:11:40|