Duathlon titles go to France and Spain as temperatures top 30c

By Paul Groves | 30 Jun, 2019

The action was hot, hot, hot in downtown Târgu Mureș this morning as the city opened its arms to welcome a small army of duathletes from all over Europe (with, naturally, the Brits making up the biggest contingent).

The organisers worked through the night to move the race infrastructure from the top of the Platoul down to the very heart of the city, with the Elite Transition area right in front of the Palace of Culture, famed for its Hall of Mirrors.

There was no risk of the undead appearing this morning, with the sun beating down on the 4-lap, 5-lap, 2-lap duathlon and, with the streets closed to traffic, the spectator count was high.

With the Age-Group athletes racing first, the worst of the heat was saved for the Junior, U23 and Elite who were to race together; women at 11:00 and the men at 12:30. We will be bringing a detailed report on the Age-Group, draft-legal race in the coming days.

For the 11:00 start, the expected podium did not materialise. French athlete Sandra Levenez came here as the reigning European and World Champion, with European victories in 2018, 2017, 2015 and 2011 and world wins in 2019 and 2014. Racing now over the sprint distance, she was up against Austria’s Sandrina Illes, who we see more often at the middle and long distance events. In 2018, Illes won not only the ETU Powerman Championships, over the 10-60-10 distance but also the Fyn title in the worlds over the standard distance but neither could match Irene Loizate Sarrionandia ESP, who came here with a sweet win in Ibiza as a U23 athlete but now, older, racing as Elite. The pro-cyclist, racing for the UCI Women’s Team Bizkaia–Durango would claim the title for the Spanish team but not after a battle out on the streets between her and the older athletes.

The initial pack of 7 stayed close for the first lap; Levenez, Illes, Loizate, Garance Blaut FRA, who won bronze in Pontevedra, Lesley Smit NED, Marion Legrand FRA and Sonia Bejarano ESP, were just a pace ahead of GB’s U23 athlete, Claudia Kelsall, making her debut in the elite ranks. Spain’s Marta Pintanel Raymundo led the chase pack, with Slovakia’s Líza Hazuchová tucked in well leading the Juniors.

Out at the turn point, Illes kicked and took control. She had done this in Vejle, back in 2018 when she had won the race and had tested everyone in Viborg in similar style earlier this year.

The lead was small and Illes was testing them.

They passed the test and one lap later, she was joined by Loizate, with the pack closing on her.

Kelsall’s initial pace was possibly too much and she dropped back to the group containing Hazuchová, Pintanel, with the two Dutch athletes, Sophie van der Most and Marlou Bijlsma.

Illes and Loizate kept the pressure up, as Levenez dug deep and pushed her system into the red to maintain contact. Coming into T1, the athletes were pushing themselves to the limit, with Austria and Spain leading. Two from Spain, two from France and one from Austria.

The crowds got grandstand views as the athletes changed shoes, clipped on their helmets and, in a flash, were out onto the road for the multi–lap bike.

It was Loizate who was first to settle into the saddle, with the other following close behind. After the turn, she moved to the back.

Blaut was dropped. The pack was down now to only 4.

Bejarano did the early work as they settled into their shoes. Behind them, Pintanel and Hazuchová were working together.

Hard work dragged Blaut and Smit back into contention and by the time they all hit the dismount line, Legrand and van der Most had caught up.

Levenez lost valuable time racking her bike. Illes sped through the process but it was Loizate and Legrand, followed by Smit, who were first out onto the 2.5k final run to the podium. The Spanish athlete pulled away but Illes cut through the leaders, coming up in second place, with Smit trailing behind her. Further back, the French pair of Levenez and Blaut had Bejarano in view and were bearing down on her.

Loizate was flying. Illes was keeping her in sight. Bejarano and Smit were in a deadly battle for the final podium spot.

Loizate’s victory was an impressive one. Illes, mixing the longer distances with the sprint was amazing and the battle between Spain and the Netherlands for the final medal saw Smit fade in the very final stages, giving the Spanish team every excuse to go wild at the finish.

Elite medals sorted, it was Pintanel, who claimed the U23 title ahead of Kelsall and Ukraine’s Karyna Yevtushenko.

For the Juniors, a mighty performance from Hazuchová gave her gold and a finish position that would have been a U23 silver.

Her victory follows on from the junior gold and silver yesterday in the Cross Triathlon and will certainly be celebrated not only by the Slovakian Federation but also by ETU’s Development Team, as they see the results of the development strategy now bearing fruit. Russia’s Alvetina Stetsenko delivered a final run that could not be matched by Marije Hijman NED, who sees her 6th in Ibiza upgraded nicely to a bronze.


With the mercury now rising, the sun directly overhead, it was the turn of the Junior, U23 and Elite Men to race. Spain having won the Women’s race, there was a hope that they could do the double with Emilio Martín. Runner-up in Pontevedra, he faced the defending European Champion, Yohan le Berre and the reigning World Champion, Benjamin Choquert both wearing the blue uniform of France. Add to that mix the World Bronze medal-winner, Belgium’s Angelo Vandecasteele and we were always going to see an intense race.

The start was full of drama as le Berre stumbled forwards, anticipating the blast from the air horn. 10 seconds penalty before he’d even left the start zone.

The leading pack of athletes was a tight mix of just under 20 athletes across the categories. The risk facing the younger athletes was that the Elite, pushing the pace, would drain those young legs too early.

Looking relaxed at the front, Choquert, Martín and Vandecasteele kept the pace high.

Lap after lap, the pace stayed high.

Into Transition and out onto the bike course, le Berre burst away from the pack and established an impressive lead, trying to claw back the ten seconds that he had lost. The attack left the pack stunned and the Frenchman was poised to deliver the performance of a lifetime when a puncture in the middle of the course, far from the wheel station robbed him (and robbed us as spectators) of his race.

The pack was still trying to work out how far ahead the Frenchman was but would soon find him, frustrated and with a flat tyre, further out on the course.

Ukraine’s Vitalii Vorontsev had held his pace within the lead group and was now in a fine place in the peloton.

The heat was intense but the pack, possibly realising that another breakaway would not work, gradually slowed. The final lap was 30 seconds down as the athletes loosened their legs in readiness for the run.

Into T2 now and a huge group of athletes thrilled the crowds. No room for error now, this was the moment that the race could be lost by the simplest of errors.

Choquert survived the carnage of T2 but it was the younger Martín from Spain, Javier, who led them out onto the final run.

One step beyond Luis Miguel Martín Berlanas ESP and Portugal’s Marco Miguel, the three sped out onto the streets, knowing full well that the attack from behind was coming.

Choquert took the outside line, giving him a clear line of attack down the avenue.

The attack came and it was Choquert who looked strong. Creating a lead of some 10m after the water station, the Frenchman looked in control.

Running easily; no penalties, the out and back course would give him all the timing splits that he needed to ensure his lead was not under threat.

Behind him, filling their lungs with as much air as possible, the pack.

100m from the finish and the Frenchman was still in command. A nonchalant glance over his shoulder was all that he needed.

Emilio Martín was in silver medal position but as yet unsure of his safety.

He too, had time to check behind. Looking like silver was safe ahead of Vandecasteele, his teammates shouting out to him, the Spaniard knew he could not catch Choquert.

It was gold to France.

Digging deep, deep and deeper still, the Belgian did his best to snatch silver but it was not to be. His battle now was with Miguel, who was almost in the tall Belgian’s shoes.

France, Spain and Belgium for the podium.

The U23 race saw another French victory, with Krilan le Bihan, just having the final pace to outrun the defending champion, Belgium’s Arnaud Dely, who now has a matching set of silvers after Pontevedra. The final podium place was taken by Niels Te Pas NED.

The winner of the junior title, Vitalii Vorontsov was so strong that he beat both silver and bronze medal winners in the U23. Silver went to Giani vanden Broucke BEL and bronze to another Ukrainian athlete, Valentin Marievskiy.

A fantastic day of racing for all categories. Downtown Târgu Mureș promised and certainly delivered.

Tomorrow is a rest day but not for the organisers who, having dismantled the city centre venue, are transporting everything 50k north to the Cross Duathlon venue.

Medal table updates are being prepared and will be available soon.

Additional photos can be seen here.

Related Event: 2019 Târgu Mures ETU Duathlon European Championships
30 - Jul, 2019 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Benjamin Choquert FRA 00:55:42
2. Emilio Martin ESP 00:55:49
3. Angelo Vandecasteele BEL 00:55:51
4. Marco Miguel POR 00:55:53
5. Benoit Nicolas FRA 00:55:57
6. Krilan Le Bihan FRA 00:55:58
7. Luis Miguel Martin Berlanas ESP 00:55:59
8. Maxime Bargetto FRA 00:56:02
9. Vincent Bierinckx BEL 00:56:03
10. Vitalii Vorontsov UKR 00:56:04
Results: Elite Women
1. Irene Loizate Sarrionandia ESP 01:00:14
2. Sandrina Illes AUT 01:00:21
3. Sonia Bejarano ESP 01:00:26
4. Lesley Smit NED 01:00:34
5. Sandra Levenez FRA 01:00:38
6. Garance Blaut FRA 01:00:50
7. Marion Legrand FRA 01:01:23
8. Sophie Van Der Most NED 01:01:43
9. Marta Pintanel Raymundo ESP 01:03:49
10. Liza Hazuchova SVK 01:03:55
Results: U23 Men
1. Krilan Le Bihan FRA 00:55:58
2. Arnaud Dely BEL 00:56:07
3. Niels Te Pas NED 00:56:24
4. Krzysztof Hadas POL 00:56:36
5. Niall Cornyn IRL 00:58:39
6. Sergey Kostenko UKR 00:58:57
7. Georgii Kosov UKR 01:00:43
8. Denys Kyrylovych UKR 01:01:12
9. Oleksii Astafiev Kulish UKR 01:01:20
Results: U23 Women
1. Marta Pintanel Raymundo ESP 01:03:49
2. Claudia Kelsall GBR 01:05:47
3. Karyna Yevtushenko UKR 01:07:26
Results: Junior Men
1. Vitalii Vorontsov UKR 00:56:04
2. Giani Vanden Broucke BEL 00:56:25
3. Valentin Marievskiy UKR 00:58:10
4. Olaf Jan Bosscher NED 00:59:27
5. Erick Rogoz ROU 01:01:14
6. Maksymilian Kopiczko POL 01:02:02
7. Jaimy Voogt NED 01:02:08
8. Kyrylo Novikov UKR 01:02:42
9. Maksim Semenov RUS 01:02:54
10. Jakub Bogusiewicz POL 01:03:16
Results: Junior Women
1. Liza Hazuchova SVK 01:03:55
2. Alevtina Stetsenko RUS 01:05:20
3. Marije Hijman NED 01:05:27
4. Delia-Oana Dudau ROU 01:06:03
5. Anastasiia Terentieva UKR 01:08:40
6. Yelizaveta Diachenko UKR 01:08:51
7. Alice Perjoiu ROU 01:09:00
8. Monika Dobrovolska UKR 01:11:49
9. Andreea-Maria Matei-Bobarnac ROU 01:12:20
10. Sina Meier SUI 01:14:47