Fredericia 2006 saw the Age Group Athletes race in windy, wet and sunny conditions. There were strong performances across the board but the 7th place overall for GBR athlete Tom Davies (the Welsh Wizard) in the 45-49 age-group was a lesson to the youngsters that just because you pass the magic 40 you dont necessarily slow down.
By the time that the Elite started checking their bikes in the wind had increased and the skies had darkened. Rain was falling with more determination and there was concern for the fighting snakes amongst the Elite field.
The townsfolk of Fredericia emerged around the town again to support the worlds fastest over this tough distance and at 13:00 on the dot the Men set off for the three laps around the town centre and surrounding parks.
An early breakaway of World Legend Benny Vansteelant (BEL), Paul Amey (GBR) and New Zealands Mark Bailey on the first lap got the crowds cheering and wondering if once again the Lion of Flanders could claim yet another title but as the leaders approached the town square for the second time it was a clear breakaway for Amey with Vansteelant chasing hard in the next group. This lead of some 45 seconds was caught up on the third lap and they put the 15.6km behind them to set off on the by now very wet and very windy bike course.
This distance is always non-drafting even for the Elite and the motorcycle referees were vigilant with a handful of athletes being sent to the Penalty Box for a standing count of 90 seconds as they entered T2.
But before they got there we saw all the top contenders being well-placed on lap 1 of the three lap, 89.2km bike. A powerful display of cycling by French athlete, Vincent Adelbert seemed as if it would catch Vansteelant who had broken away at the front and was way ahead of the field but a cruel puncture close to the turnaround point at the end of lap 2 saw him walk back to the TA, his race over. He joined AMEY (GBR) who having received a black card for drafting also found the cold wind and rain too much for his body and retired to the medical tent and the expert care of the Danish ambulance service.
Meanwhile Belgian hero Vansteelant was experiencing a lonely time at the front but behind him and over three minutes down was a powerful-looking Koen Maris (BEL) and Javier Garcia (ESP). Garcia had also been caught drafting and, from the penalty box, had to watch Joeri Vansteelant (BEL) run away from him. Rob Woestenborghs (BEL) also turned the torment of Garcia into his own advantage and the run was on.
By now the crowds were out in force despite the rain and the cheers as the two laps were run by these World beaters gave a great lift to all. It was no surprise to see, once again, Benny Vansteelant take the crown but to see him followed by fast-finishing Koen Maris and then Joerie Vansteelant firmly put the Belgian team, coached by former World Triathlon Long Distance Champion, Kathleen Smet clearly on top of the world.
1. Benny Vansteelant Belgium 3:34:15
2. Koen Maris Belgium 3:35:31
3. Joerie Vansteelant Belgium 3:39:44
4. Rob Woestenborghs Belgium 3:40:36
5. Javier Garcia Spain 3:41:19
The women, starting only 5 minutes after them men saw a strong field take off around the streets and pathways of Fredericia. Top favourites were Uli Schwalbe (GER), Erica Csomer (HUN), Catriona Morrison (GBR) and Yvonne van Vlerken (NED). The run away from the start was led by Jess Draskau-Petersen (GBR) with Erika Csomor (HUN) and the newly-crowned British Champion Morrison on her heels. After the second lap it was a well deserved lead for the aggressively running Morrison and she held that all the way from Csomor into T1. Behind her Draskau-Petersen, Michelle Lee (GBR) and Csomer were trying to keep in touch.
Once out onto the bike course it was the power of Morrison that just about held onto the lead for one lap. But Schwalbe stormed on to take the lead going into lap 2 closely followed by Csomer and Morrison. Once again the motorcycle referees were vigilant but suddenly Schwalbe had bike problems and had to pull out. Van Vlerkens power on the bike took a staggering 3 minutes out of Morrison and established a convincing lead into T2, which seemed to secure the title.
British athlete, Michelle Parsons, proven over long distances and a phenomenal force on the bike crashed out but despite a badly cut head carried on and still recorded a top ten bike time having spent some time laying on the ground dazed.
Andrea Ratkovic (USA) had a blinding bike but seemed to be suffering from the cold and she too went past Morrison but there was concern that she had paid too high a price on the bike. This proved to be true and Morrison passed her just after the first drinks station.
Despite taking almost 2 minutes out of the flying Dutchwoman Morrison had to settle for yet another silver (having secured the same medal over the shorter distance at Newcastle last year) as the crowds cheered Yvonne van Vlerken over the finish line. Just a minute behind her was a very cold Ratkovic, with Csomer taking 4th.
1. Yvonne Van Vlerken Holland 4:04:00
2. Catriona Morrison GBR 4:06:24
3. Andrea Ratkovic USA 4:07:21
4. Erika Csomor Hungary 4:11:27
5. Jess Draskau Peterson GBR 4:11:40
The age groupers had come back to the square to cheer on their own elite and to see if once again Benny could do it. They were not disappointed and were rewarded with an excellent race.
Once again Fredericia has succeeded.
2007 will take us to Richmond, Virginia for the World Long Course for Duathlon. Check your diaries, plan your raining schedule and join the Duathlon family!
|Results: Elite Men|