Triathlon hits Krakow for European Games’ second triathlon showdown
The Polish city of Krakow will be the stage for triathlon’s second European Games outing, the first since Baku 2015, for a standard-distance challenge between some of the continent’s biggest names and up-and-coming stars.
On Wednesday 28 June, sixty men from 27 nations will toe the line on the edge of the beautiful Nowa Huta Lake to the east of the city centre, the 1.5km swim transitions to an 8-lap, 40km bike and finishes with a 4-lap 10km run for the title.
Italy and Switzerland dominate top 5
Michelle Sarzilla will wear the number one, the Italian currently sitting at number 21 in the world having posted career best results in 2022 including a first Series top 10 at WTCS Cagliari in October. A multiple national triathlon and duathlon champion and Europe Triathlon Cup medallist, Krakow could be the 34-year-old’s perfect moment to shine.
Compatriot Gianluca Pozzatti also shone in that home Series race last October and quickly followed it up with a maiden World Cup win in Miyazaki. Ever-solid across all three disciplines, his staying power will be all-important over the second half of the run if he is to medal. That will be particularly true given the pedigree of three-time World Champion and recently-crowned Duathlon World Champion Mario Mola who starts for Spain with only one thing on his mind – another major title.
The Swiss team sees the in-form trio of Adrien Briffod, Sylvain Fridelance and Simon Westermann ready to take the race on, Briffod having hit European Championship bronze in Madrid just a matter of weeks ago. Fridelance would love to see his consistency develop into meaningful medal challenges over the closing stages, while Westermann will want to bounce back from his DNF disappointment in Madrid where he was forced to pull out with illness.
Crowds looking to boost home-nation athletes
Marcin Stanglewicz has become a regular on the World Cup start lines in recent years and leads a trio of Polish athletes hoping to make an impact and light up the course with the more experienced Maciej Bruzdziak and Michal Oliwa.
There may be no Gordon Benson this time around, winner in the inaugural event eight years ago, but British hopes for a medal remain strong with the U23 World Champion Connor Bentley and the man that took him almost all the way to the finish in Abu Dhabi last November, Hamish Reilly. Bentley has two European Cup wins in two starts this season, the most recent in the northern Polish city of Olsztyn, and European Games gold could certainly be within his reach.
Frenchman Paul Georgenthum has plenty of experience on his young shoulders and is a strong finisher, the U23 worlds runner-up and Mixed Relay Champion will be unfazed by the size of the event, likewise Azeri Rostislav Pevtsov, bronze medallist in Baku and looking to go on the attack in Krakow. Austria’s Alois Knabl has experience aplenty that could be a decisive factor in the pressure pot of a major Games.
A strong Norway delegation stars Casper Stornes and Vetle Bergsvik Thorn, both vying for Paris 2024 spots and both hugely capable of putting together winning displays when it matters, Stornes a former WTCS Bermuda champion and Thorn another past Olsztyn winner and powerful cyclist who may look to force a breakaway.
The Slovakian Richard Varga will doubtless be one of the names setting the pace in the 1.5km swim, his staying power likely to be there after recent forays into longer distance racing, while Israel’s biking machine Shachar Sagiv will back himself for a shot at the podium.
For the full start list click here.
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