The beautiful baroque city Karlovy Vary, sometimes known as Carlsbad, first burst onto the triathlon scene in 2001 when the ETU European Championships were held there. Eurosport, with Ian Sweet providing the voice, covered the elite races live. The course was demanding and took the athletes up a terrifyingly 24% steep climb on cobblestones. This became the feature of the race and certainly where the race could be lost.
2001 saw record crowds cheering their local hero Filip Ospalý. He was facing a battle against Iván Raña who had built up a 100m lead but the efforts of the tough cycle delivered screaming cramps to the Spaniard and with thousands of voices chanting “Ospalý ! Ospalý!” the local athlete won the sprint for the line. Bronze went to Eric van der Linden from the Netherlands.
ETU’s very own Secretary General, Kathleen Smet was racing and took silver with gold going to GBR’s Michelle Dillon and bronze going to Britain’s voice of triathlon on the TV now, Annie Emmerson. It was Dillon’s run speed that took her to gold and this was to be the case in the men.
The championships returned in 2003 and again provided great racing with Iván Raña getting his revenge on Filip Ospalý by snatching gold in a sprint finish. Bronze also went to the Czech Republic with Martin Krnávek. The women’s event saw Kathleen Smet having to settle for bronze, Nadia Cortassa having just enough pace to take silver and Ana Burgos, ESP take gold.
Further international racing took place in 2004 with a very successful continental cup and then, after a break of a few years, the event took its place back on the racing calendar in 2008. Since then there has been a race each year. City Triathlon is now a fixture that we all look forwards to.
Last year saw the fast-paced Ukrainian athlete Yegor Martynenko win gold with Stefan Zachaeus, ITU, and a comfortable silver. From Italy; Alberto Casadei just having enough strength in his legs to make bronze. Australia’s Felicity Sheedy-Ryan took gold with time to spare over Mateja Simic (SLO) and Charlotte Morel (FRA).
This year the highest ranking went to Vendula Frintová (CZE) who has previously enjoyed a place on the podium in her own country but who has not yet made it to the top and the gold medal. With fellow Czech, Petra Kuříková there would be local hope that the medals could be shared. With a gold medal already won this year in Banyoles, French athlete Alexandra Cassan Ferrier would be a threat to a Czech victory.
The weather was not ideal and the water temperature of 19.10 meant that wetsuits were worn. The tight swim in Rolava Lake outside town saw a clear lead established by the strong swimmers and it was Frintová and Italian athlete Margie Santamaria who established a 20 second lead ahead of the chase pack. They tore through T1 and then set about covering the 5k section of the bike course that delivers them to the multi-lap race around the city. The athletes had 7 laps of 4.6k to cover but each lap had a 20% climb that would make the leg.
Frintová put the pressure on Santamaria who was dropped after two of the tortuous laps and who was soon swallowed up by the chase group that contained Cassan Ferrier, Michelle Filipo (MEX) and Kuříková. Despite pushing hard, Frintová was caught by the pack 3 laps later, leaving the rest of the athletes scattered around the course.
Into T2 and Frintová took off at pace on the run. Nobody could stay with her and in the closing few KM of the run nobody was going to be able to catch her. Winning gold on home soil was extra special for Frintová who said, “I really wanted to want at home soil but the race definitely didn't go as I planned. I was so surprised when I was first out of the water and then didn't really know what to do on the bike. As I was riding with an Italian girl for first 10k till she got dropped and I was in solo breakaway with still keeping the same time to the chase pack. I didn't want to waste too much energy because there's WTs Stockholm and Edmonton Grand Final. But I was only caught in the 6th from 7 bike laps. I was a bit worried that my legs won't be too fresh for the run but it worked well at the end.
It's always special to win at home and I'd like to thank the organisations for a great event and the people for cheering me. Karlovy Vary is a beautiful city with very tough and honest course.”
Cassan Ferrier came in to take silver. For her “The course was a real challenge. On the swim you have to exit the water twice, then there were the climbs, descents and numerous technical corners on the bike and then running down steps in the city centre on the run. It really is a course that looks good for the spectators as it makes for intense competition. I am so pleased with the silver as today the strongest athlete was the one who got gold. It always feels good to get onto the podium! Michelle Filipo who took bronze is a great athlete and I am happy to share the podium with them.”
Mexican athlete Filipo can add the bronze to her collection of podium medals and celebrate her first ever ETU medal.
In the men’s race the ranking showed strength coming from Ukraine and Russia. Martynenko and Sapunov have raced consistently over recent weeks but might now be feeling just a little of the fatigue that back to back racing can bring. Tutukin and Bryukhankov (the younger) were joined by Stefan Zachaeus, who was born in Germany but is now racing under the ITU flag.
The weather improved for the men. The roads were dry and the temperature rose. The swim saw a large group stay together for most of the 1500m and only in the last of the three laps was there a small breakaway that had Bryukhankov, Jonas Breinlinger (GER) and Zachaeus emerge with French athlete Raoul Shaw and local athlete Jakub Kocar who has previously shown good pace in the swim.
Out onto the bike and there was a lot of work going on at the front end. Two main groups established themselves with the leaders maintaining their advantage for most of the race. In the lead group were the favourites, including Bryukhankov, Tutukin, Sapunov, Julien Pousson (FRA) and Breinlinger.
Out on the bike Italian athlete Giulio Molinari broke free, worked hard and entered T2 with a minute advantage over the pack where Shaw had been doing most of the work. The Italian’s lead vaporised after only two laps on the run as Bryukhankov and then shortly after Zachaeus and Tututkin raced past him. We have seen Tutukin run fast before and at one stage it looked as if his pace would take him past Bryukhankov. But Bryukhankov ensured that his lead was big enough to take him to gold with Tutukin taking silver and Zachaeus having to settle for bronze after his silver last year.
Bryukhankov could hardly contain his joy after the race, “I am very happy! This is the first top podium at a European Cup in the Elite category. From the very start of the race for me, everything went well, a good position on the start pontoon and a quick start gave me the opportunity to get a good position. Swimming was at a fast pace and exiting the water I was in 3rd. A quick transition let me be in the leading group of athletes. The bike course was for me better than the mountain plains race. The course was hard and technical. At one point I thought I would be able to break away but that didn’t happen and I stayed in the pack until T2. Out onto the run I felt fresh and I ran to catch up with the leaders. After 2.5 laps I pulled into the lead and held the lead until the finish. I am very happy that I won. Many thanks to the organizers for holding a great start in this historic and beautiful town, thanks to the Russian fans who have supported me throughout the running stage, thanks to all, I am very happy! Now what I have is intensive preparations for the World Cup.”
For Tutukin, “The start did not go as I had planned, but I was pleased with the result and the fact that the first place was my mate Andrey. I knew the race would be tough and strong competition came from Raul Shaw. He set the pace and that created a lead group of 6-8 people. I was hoping that we could catch up with the first group on the bike and I ended up in the second group out of the water, 40 seconds back from the leader. On the bike it did not go so well and I lost another 30 seconds. Our group came in 1.10 down from the first group but I had a very quick T2 and immediately began running quickly to try to catch as many as possible. That worked well ! The support of the many Russian fans helped very much in Carlsbad!”
ETU President Renato Bertrandi was there to present the medals. For him it was a well-organised event, a great race and a testing, technical bike course – this is just what ETU likes !
Many thanks to ETU TD, Sander Verheuvel, for the images.
Related Event: 2014 Karlovy Vary ETU Triathlon European Cup
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: Elite Women|
|2.||Alexandra Cassan Ferrier||FRA||02:05:12|