Pontevedra, situated on the North West of Spain, will take centre stage this weekend as it hosts the European Championships. Over the last few years, Pontevedra has hosted three Premium European Cups and now the biggest names in triathlon will be one again be competing in the town. Along with the Elite athletes, will be those competitors who have excited us so far in 2011 with their dynamic performances. With Age Group sprint and standard races, Paratriathlon, Junior Elites and Mixed Team Relay races, it promises to be quite a weekend.
The name on everyone’s mind is Javier Gomez. The 2009 European Champion was victorious here in Pontevedra in 2008 and 2010 and will undoubtedly get the backing of the home crowd. Gomez sat out last weekend’s Dextro World Championship series race in Kitzbuehel and will be fresh heading into this tournament.
Sure to push Gomez all the way are the dynamic Brownlee brothers. Alastair Brownlee is the reigning European Champion after victory in Atlone last year and is in great form having won both of the last Dextro World Championship races in Madrid and Kitzbuehel. In Madrid, the podium was Brownlee, Brownlee, Gomez with Jonathan’s second place proving he can compete with the best.
The French athletes will have a point to prove on this stage. Between them Pierre Le Corre, Vincent Luis and Frederic Belaubre have posted some impressive podiums in European races this year – five in total between them. Belaubre was European Champion in 2008.
The Elite Men’s race starts at 1900 hrs on Saturday 25th June.
The Elite Womens race promises to be equally compelling with a really open field and no identifiable favourite. Mateja Simic of Slovenia is in terrific form in 2011 and having delivered regular podium spots will want to go one better and secure a title. Rebecca Robisch of Germany is also in good form and finished just outside the podium in last year’s European Cup here at Pontevedra. Ireland’s Aileen Morrison is another to watch and she has posted some scintillating results in 2011 where she won in Antalya and came second in Japan.
We cannot discount the experienced Czech pairing of Vendula Frintova and Radka Vodickova. Vodickova has won in Pontevedra in 2009 and she is expecting a tough field. She said: “I can’t wait for the race to start. A top ten finish would be great for me but I will try my best.
“There are always strong teams from Britain, Germany and France but I believe the Spanish girls on home soil will surprise many.”
The Elite Women’s race starts at 1230 hrs on Saturday 25th June.
The Mens Junior race promises to deliver a classic with the last four winners of the Junior European Cup series together on the start line. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Matthias Steinwandter (ITA) and Lukas Kocar (CZE) have shown their promise over the last month. Steinwandter in particular, with two victories at Tournai and Vienna, aswell as his European Duathlon Championship win in Limerick, is in great form.
The Men’s Junior race starts at 2000 hrs on Friday 24th June
In the Womens Junior race, Monika Orazem of Slovenia also goes in to these Championships with recent Junior European cup wins under her belt. Eszter Pap of Hungary won last time out in Vienna a fortnight ago. In doing so she edged out Sara Vilic of Croatia, who again, has shown good consistent podium form in 2011 and will be a contender here.
The Womens Junior race starts at 1745 hrs on Friday 24th June.
The European Championships will also see an estimated 2000 Age Group athletes competing over two separate events, a sprint race and standard distance race. The sprint race starts at 0800 hrs on Saturday 25th June and the standard race is at 0800 hrs on Sunday 26th.
There will also be over 50 ParaTriathletes competing from nations all over Europe, another chapter in the development of ParaTriathlon on a big, International stage.
Standard race distances which include the Elites athletes is Swim: 1.5km (2 laps x 750m), Bike: 40km (8 laps x 5km), Run: 10km (4 laps x 2.5km) The sprint distance which includes the Juniors is 750m/20km/5km.
The ETU will be reporting live throughout the weekend on our Twitter page www.twitter.com/ETUtriathlon and there will be live timing available on www.triathlon.org/live. Full results and race reports will also appear on our website over the course of the weekend.