It is another title heading to Norway as Vetle Bergsvik Thorn wins gold at the European Games in Krakow, replicating the great performance of his teammate Solveigh Lovseth, first crossing the line in the women’s race. After a 1500m swim, 40km bike and three out of four laps on the 10km run with a massive group on the lead, Thorn hung tough to take a tense sprint finish ahead of Shachar Sagiv (ISR) and Adrien Briffod (SUI) with the silver and bronze.
The sun was shining bright early this Wednesday on the beautiful Nova Huta Lake in Krakow, where 58 men lined up ready for the second triathlon race of the European Games. With two laps of 750m each planned on the lake, it was Mitch Kolkman (NED) the one that decided to go up front and try to strecht the field as much as he could, with three strong swimmers right on his feet: Michele Sarzilla (ITA) and the Hungarians Gergely Kiss y Gergo Dobi. By the time the four of them got out of the water and started the long run on the blue carpet to transition, half of the field was still in the water, with some strong names like Briffod, Thorn or Valentin Morlec (FRA) more than 15 seconds behind, and a third group including Sagiv and Paul Georgenthum (FRA) , 45 seconds behind the leaders and Mario Mola (ESP) and Emil Holm (DEN) struggling at the back of the field, over one minute behind the first athletes.
A pack of twelve athletes including the four leaders out of the water plus the likes of Alberto Gonzalez Garcia (ESP), Thorne, Gianluca Pozzati (ITA) or Alois Knabl (AUT) managed to get a together and get some seconds of a lead but behind them, Casper Stornes (NOR) and Sylvain Fridelance (SUI) were getting the chasers organised, and quickly reducing the time gap.
Half way through the 40km bike it was a considerably big group leading the bike, with both Norwegians Stormes and Thorne, along with Barclay Izzard (GBR), Panagiotis Bitados (GRE) and Sagiv charging every once in a while, all of them knowing that the bigger that the lead group, the safer it was to stay on the front, even if that meant to spend some energy to just stay ahead of the troubles that the back positions usually bring.
That’s usually easier said than done, and with just a few meters to go on the bike, and a large group of over 40 athletes riding together, the back of the group suffered of a peloton crash that ended up with Bob Haller (LUX) and Zsombor Devay (HUN) out of the race, and a few other athletes hitting the second transition a bit behind the leaders.
The ones that were up front at the dismount line avoided the congested transition to leave the blue carpet under some drops of rain as a compact group of 12 athletes, all of them running shoulder to shoulder for the first lap around the lake. Thorn, Sagiv, Briffod, Rostislav Pevtsov (AZE), Bitados, Yanic Seguin (FRA), Simon Henseleit (GER), Pozzatti, Sarzilla, Izzard and David Cantero del Campo (ESP) were in less than 5 seconds on what became a pure tactical race, none wanted to be the first one to test the waters and check if anyone else could follow.
And so the group run for 8 kilometers, only stretching a bit to loose both Italians first, Izzard, Henseleit and Cantero with less than one kilometer to the tape. And with the blue carpet just on sight, Thorn decided that he couldn’t wait any longer and decided to just push one last time and see if anyone could follow. Sagiv barely did, but not fast enough to avoid the Norwegian to cross the line in first place, giving Norway the second gold medal of the European Games, both on them on triathlon.
I am tired but really happy. I traveled to Montreal to do the Mixed Relay but unfortunately that race didn’t happen. I then had a long travel back here but it looks that this has worked really well for me and Solveigh (Lovseth)”, said the Norwegian, who also returned from WTCS Montreal on Monday morning, his bike delayed a few more hours. “My goal was to win here, I put a lot of pressure on myself but I am very happy to take the win today with so many great guys in the field. Now I’m looking forward to the relay this Saturday, we have a really strong team and we are looking for the best”, he said.
Silver on the day was for Shachar Sagiv: “The race for me was great, even though I was out of the water on a position that I didn’t want to. I worked really hard on the bike to make it to the first group and then relaxed a bit on the back, and for the run I struggled a little bit at the beginning but I knew that I had the strength to do it. I had a really bad start of the season, so I am really proud of this result and come out with a silver today”.
The bronze was for Adrien Briffod, repeating the same place that he got at the Madrid European Championships a few weeks ago. “The first seven kilometers on the run were really hard, with all of us pushing a lot. I thought I had better legs for the sprint finish that I was trying to avoid but at the end I didn’t so third here, third in Madrid. I would have loved to go higher on the podium but well done to the other guys today”. he said.
The youngest french athlete on the field today, Seguin, claimed the fourth place, with one of the youngest athletes in Krakow, Bitados, was extremely happy to close the top five, a career best result for him. Pevtsov, Henseleit, Pozzatti, Izzard and Sarzilla closed the top 10.
Related Event: 2023 Krakow-Malopolska European Games
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||01:46:50|
|Results: Elite Women|
|Results: Mixed Relay|
|1.||Team I Norway||NOR||01:07:29|
|2.||Team I Great Britain||GBR||01:07:33|
|3.||Team I Hungary||HUN||01:07:40|
|4.||Team I Switzerland||SUI||01:07:47|
|5.||Team I Spain||ESP||01:07:54|
|6.||Team I Italy||ITA||01:08:01|
|7.||Team I Denmark||DEN||01:08:34|
|8.||Team I France||FRA||01:08:47|
|9.||Team I Austria||AUT||01:09:18|
|10.||Team I Slovakia||SVK||01:09:19|