The Estonian city of Tartu was the focus for Rally Estonia this weekend but despite this major sporting event that filled hotels and took over the roads, the organisers still successfully delivered a race …. with a difference.
We are used to seeing multi-lap events for elite athletes but this was a complete change, with a straight-line swim down river of 750m, followed by a one-lap bike and one-lap run to a finish that was easily the biggest and most heavily-illuminated one we have ever seen.
A massive wall of light, used for the rally, was re-programmed for the ETU Race.
So, gold for Dickinson and for Koch, but how did the race go?
The women’s swim was led by Alexandra Razarenova RUS. Due to the weather conditions, the Race Referee declared it a wetsuit swim (click the link to see the Elite Women’s swim exit) and the river was running quite strongly, so no real advantage for the expert swimmers amongst the pack. She exited the water comfortably ahead of Italy’s Sharon Spimi and Luisa Iogna-Prat but tucked in there was Hanna Maksimava BLR, who only last weekend raced the ETU Middle Distance Championships in the heat of Transylvania. Here she was, now racing sprint distance and in the top group.
Estonia’s Katrin Zaitseva and Anette Hallik posted strong bike splits but Annika Koch, who just missed out on the medals in Dnipro, who exited the water some way back from the lead, was looking strong.
The weather gods were not kind and although the rainfall was not quite as bad as Tiszaújváros, the roads on the return to the city were a challenge. Coming into T2 and it was going to be down to the run.
Koch’s pace out on the run was impressive and she crossed the line to take the win over 30 seconds ahead of Razarenova. Bronze went, remarkably, to Maksimava, who showed us once again that she really is the expert in mixing distances. Her run time of 19:00 included a ten-second penalty. It would certainly have been an exciting race to the line between her and the Russian athlete if she had not had to go to the Penalty Box.
Gold to Germany, silver to Russia, bronze to Belarus.
With the Men’s race, it was a declaration of supremacy by GB’s Sam Dickinson. He has been off the start lists for a while, concentrating on his final year of study. With the news that he had a 2:1 (in Great Britain, this is a very good qualification) in Sports Science and having just celebrated his birthday, he was in confident but relaxed mode upon arrival here from Tallinn.
Exiting the water a full 8 seconds clear of any challenger, he used the bike course to his full advantage and attacked from the moment he had slipped his feet in to his shoes. The out and back section was where he built up a solid advantage, adding to that as soon as he reached the city limits on his return, “the last bit in the old city is great riding testing me physically with the hills and technically with the descents and road surface. The wet conditions meant you had to be confident on 2 wheels!”
The chase pack knew that he had escaped and T2 was a frantic attempt to make up lost time. (click this link for a view of the action)
His “lonely day at the office” continued when he went out onto the run and with the fastest swim and bike splits, he was aiming to repeat this over the 5k. The course was “good as viewing across the river is easy like Nottingham Relays. But we disappeared around the far lake. However the run roads around the lake are flat and fast especially with a tailwind! Then as it was the first time I’ve run hard off the bike, I had no idea how my legs would respond after the first Km! But luckily I held on and surprised myself with the run split!”
Dickinson’s victory was similar to that of Koch. He had to wait almost 45 seconds for the silver medal winner, who was none other than Australia’s Callum McCluskey who once again showed that his closing run is something the Europeans need to watch out for. It was he who posted the fastest run split of 16:03, closing down on and passing Finland’s Henrik Goesch in the final stages of the race.
For Dickinson, a return to Tartu, where “travel is very easy by train from Tallinn and once there, everything is in walking distances. Tartu is a beautiful mix of the old city with new modern shopping malls and restaurants. I hope to come back next year for the European Standard distance champs and maybe repeat the result.. who knows?”
His next race will be in Kazan and with this performance, he will be heading there full of confidence.
Our thanks to ETU Executive Board Member, Maryia Charkouskaya-Tarasevich for the photos and video. It’s always great to get images from the event.
Related Event: 2019 Tartu ETU Triathlon European Cup and Baltic Championships
|Results: Elite Men|
|8.||Ben De La Porte||RSA||00:52:57|
|Results: Elite Women|
|4.||Elena Maria Petrini||ITA||00:59:36|