GB’s golden boy Sam Dickinson has claimed his second gold medal in two races with an emphatic victory this weekend in Constanța. In the women’s race it was a display of amazing running that gave gold to Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratova.
With the water temperature just dipping under 20C and the air at 18c, it was a wetsuit swim and this gave Yelistratova the advantage she needed.
There was no surprise when Poland’s Alicja Ulatowska emerged first from the choppy sea. Italy’s Alessia Orla had done well to keep the Polish athlete in her sights and was second out of the water but with work to do to catch up and then came Yelistratova, with local favourite, Antoanela Manac a step behind.
Going flat out in T1 to ensure a place in the peloton, a small group of powerful cyclists formed. The 9 athletes included Germany’s Marlene Gomez-Islinger and Lina Völker, Italy’s Carlotta Missaglia and Luisa Iogna-Prat, Kseniia Levkovska AZE and visiting Colombian athlete, Diane Castillo.
All of them had pace but none of them had the same pace of the Ukrainian athlete who now found herself in the lead group and in a very strong position.
Manac, cheered on by the Romanian supporters, did her best to attack and break up the pack but Ulatowska marked her move.
The attack caught Yelistratova by surprise and she had to counter, pulling along Orla and Levkovska. The peloton reformed but behind them, further pressure was being applied by the chase pack.
Missaglia led them out onto the run course, Manac clung to her, the crowds urging her on. Orla was well-placed, with Iogna-Prat just behind and Yelistratova was having once again to play catch-up. At this stage in the race, Italy had three athletes in the top four
Yelistratova knew exactly what she needed to do and knew exactly how strong the others were compared to her in this final discipline. The Ukrainian athlete has shown again and again on the circuit just how fast she can run off the bike and today was no different.
Cooling down with some water was the signal.
Soon enough, from being at the back of the pack, she was leading.
Soon enough, the inevitable happened and she broke free of the pack and was running alone at the front, on and on.
Gomez was the only one with anything to respond and she too escaped the group.
Behind her the battle was hotting up for the remaining place on the podium, with Missaglia working hard at the front and Orla keeping an eye on Levkovska.
Yelistratova had done enough for the win, with Gomez claiming silver. The sprint for the final medal was nail-biting and both Missaglia and Orla appeared to hit the line together.
Some tense moments followed as the timing team, the finish officials and then the photographers provided the Head Referee with the evidence that enabled him finally to declare that by the smallest of margins, the bronze would go to Orla.
After the race, Yelistratova shared her delight at the win, “Знову на верхній сходинці п‘єдесталу! Щиро вдячна владі мого міста Житомира та Сергій Сухомлин особисто за сприяння моєї участі у змаганнях! Ми завжди сильніше коли відчуваємо підтримку! ?Я надзвичайно задоволена повернутися додому з перемогою! / On the top of the podium again! Pleasant emotions from Constanța European Cup thanks to my home town Zhytomyr’s authorities and Sergey Sukhomlin who made this trip possible! We are always stronger when we feel the support and I’m extremely happy to come back home with gold!” She then added, “People in Mamaia (Constanța) were also amazing, thanks for a great event!”
Switzerland’s Floris Salvisberg led them out of the water.
The shallow sea was not easy to negotiate and with the waves and undertow whipping at the legs, it was an energy-sapping escape from the sea. Calum Johnson GB was well-placed but by the time the athletes had run up the beach and grabbed their bikes, Dickinson was carving through and making his way to the front.
Out on the bike and he attacked. Would this be like his solo effort earlier in the season, or would he drag someone with him?
Behind him that was the question amongst the athletes in the huge peloton that was trying to keep the figure of the powerful Brit in their sights.
Showing no signs of easing up, Dickinson continued to apply the pressure.
Duchampt had a bad swim and was way back in the second group of cyclists but with the turn, he could see the picture of the race ahead and knew what he would have to do if he was in any chance of decent points and that would mean the biggest of runs.
Dickinson was caught and sat in the pack, close to Johnson. Was it here that they decided the game plan? The leading group kept the pace up and apart from the turns, where they had to slow down, it was full-gas the whole way. Hungary’s Levente Karai who we had seen run so well in Weert, was tucked into the group and as one of the youngest athletes, was having the race of his life.
Duchampt had now managed to get to the front of the chase pack and was pulling them towards the leaders but at this stage of the race, had left it too late for a medal.
Italy’s Dario Chitti bolted out of T2 and led all the way to the first aid-station. Behind him the chasing athletes were getting organised.
Dickinson looked easy as he moved to the front. The rest, strung out behind him knew what to expect.
A chip-less Johnson edged up alongside Dickinson, with Karai tucked in behind them. The chase pack had nothing to answer this attack and were fighting now for the minor placings, where no medals would be shared but where valuable points could be collected.
The leading three kept the pace and pulled further away from the pack. Karai was now in a place he had never been before, behind two much older, much more experienced athletes and he was holding his position with them.
Dickinson saved his kick this time, having learned the lesson in Kazan. His attack was well-timed and left Johnson in the silver medal position. Karai earned a spectacular bronze, showing great potential for the Hungarian team.
There was more than the usual pressure on Sam Dickinson for this race, with another of the Dickinson family winning his Age-Group Race the day before, “Exciting racing this morning in Romania ? So happy to take the tape and share the podium with Calum Johnson too!! After Tom Dickinson won his age group race yesterday couldn’t let him get one over on me!! Next up Alanya ETU Cup in 2 weeks.. see you then!”
The points race is now really hotting up, with the ETU Rankings Series almost at an end. Alanya and then the double-points opportunity in Funchal.
Who is leading for the Women?
Who is leading for the Men?
Constanța ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup - Photos by Radu-Cristi. All rights reserved.
Related Event: 2019 Constanta ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: Elite Women|