By David Peddie on 24/06/13 at 7:32 am
The future triathlon stars of Europe took centre stage this weekend at the ETU Junior Cup in Kupiskis.
This is the tenth year that a race has been held here but only the second where the ETU banners have flown and the athletes have raced for ETU Gold, Silver and Bronze. The LOC is a small team who do everything, including competing in the open Standard Distance race that closed the weekend of festivities, just in time for the public holiday that celebrates Saint Jonas.
In the end, the relatively more experienced duo of Andrey Moiseenko (RUS) and Ivana Kuriackova (SVK) were victorious, but with the field made up largely of athletes from Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Israel and Lithuania, this was the perfect development opportunity for these emerging Federations and their athletes.
An exemption from the rules had been applied to allow the junior women to start five minutes after the junior men. This is not a common request but it did provide a spectacular race that allowed the women’s medal winners to beat some of the men even with their advantage of five minutes.
Hundreds of spectators lined the course for a spectacular beach start and a single swim lap took the athletes into T1. For the men Ponomarev (RUS), Stepanov (RUS) and Demuth (AUT) led the charge with Moiseenko (RUS) looking comfortable in 4th and Atkins (GBR) on his heels. A very fast T1 from Sagiv (ISR) saw him join the lead pack of six athletes. A surge of athletes then followed into T1 and without any errors they were all off out onto the 5-lap course with a couple of muscle-sapping hills and some technical chicanes.
The women were led from the water by a powerful swim from Batotsyrenova (RUS) with Kuriackova just behind her. The Israelis were strong behind this leading pair with Aharoni and Gez swimming stroke for stroke and coming out in 3rd and 4th.
The lead pack in the men’s race held that position over the 20k but the chase pack was gaining with each lap and thrilling the crowds as they passed through the Transition Area chicane. T2 was fast, furious and professional and it was clear to see that the coaches had briefed their athletes well on just how to avoid penalties. Only three were handed out but these did not affect the podium positions.
Out in front the Men’s race was being dominated by Moiseenko and Sagiv with Shcherbinin and Kalistratov (both RUS) in a tremendous battle to see if just one of them could catch the podium spot.
But the two in front were too strong and it was Moiseenko who crossed the line first to claim his first ever Junior European Cup victory. Sagiv finished ten seconds behind the Russian for his second career podium.
Alexandr Shcherbinin won the race for that final podium spot, edging out Kalistratov for his first ever career podium at International level.
In the Women’s race, despite shipping her chain twice and coming into T2 covered in grease, Kuriackova had shown her true power out on the bike course. She still could not relax with Batotsyrenova on her heels but out on the run she pulled away to secure another victory, her third win of 2013.
Batotsyrenova did claim second spot, her first ever International podium and in an impressive Israeli performance, the team finished 3rd, 4th and 5th with Hadar Aharoni leading the trio to claim the final podium place.
All pictures courtesy of Paul Groves.