Javier Gomez won his third European Championship title with an incredible final run which left the field trailing in his wake.
The Spaniard left T2 some forty seconds behind leader Tony Moulai but by the end of the first run lap, Gomez’ explosive pace propelled him into the lead and he never looked back.
It was an incredible performance which earned Gomez his third European Championship title.
Russian duo Alexander Bryukhankov and Ivan Vasiliev completed the podium in a great result for the Russian Federation.
Gomez was quiet in the opening stages of the race, remaining close enough in the swim and the cycle before attacking the run like a bullet. Maximillian Schwetz (GER) led the way on the swim, leading after the first lap ahead of a French triumvirate of Aurelien Raphael, Frederic Belaubre and Pierre Le Corre.
Schwetz maintained his lead after the second lap and exited the water in first place. Russian duo Dmitry Polyansky and Ivan Vasiliev followed Schwetz closely out of the water, with Belaubre and Raphael maintaining their early pace.
As the pack followed it was Polyansky who exited T1 in the lead. Alexander Bryukhankov followed with Fabien (ITA) and Schwetz. Gomez was in amongst the front group about 8th or 9th.
It was an intriguing bike race. After one lap we had a breakaway when Anton Chuchko (RUS) powered away early on. The front group of about 15 riders were led by Ivan Rana (ESP) who maintained the pace about 7 seconds behind Chuchko and twenty-five seconds ahead of the second group.
Chuchko’s breakaway didn’t last and by the next lap he was swallowed by the leading pack of 15 who included Gomez, Riederer, Bryukhankov, Polyansky, Vasiliev, Fabien and Schwetz. Rana and Vasiliev then took on the mantle and themselves broke free of the front group.
This breakaway lasted for a lap before the pack once again came together - Mark Buckingham was leading the second group who had now fallen forty seconds behind the front pack.
There were some intriguing tactics taking place and after lap 4, Tony Moulai (FRA) and Andreas Schilling (DEN) were the next to make a breakaway and the two really went for it, opening up a huge gap on the pack. Behind this front group, sterling work by mark Buckingham dragged the second group back into contention and the pack behind Rana and Vasiliev was swelled to 30 riders.
As we entered the last lap of the bike the race was delicately poised. The front two maintained a gap but behind them the sharks were lurking in Gomez, Riederer and Bryukhankov.
Moulai left T2 in the lead with Schilling just behind. The pair held a forty second gap over the chasers which included Rana (ESP), Croes (BEL) and Buckingham (GBR) and Gomez.
In an awesome display of pace and power Gomez ended the first run lap in the lead, ten seconds in front of Moulai and looking unstoppable. Bryukankhov was chasing down Moulai and it remained to be seen whether the Frenchman had enough left in the tank to secure a podium position.
With two laps to go Gomez was cruising, Bryukhankov had sucked in Moulai for second place and the exhausted Frenchman was bravely hanging onto third. Vasiliev sensed blood back in 4th and Fabien (ITA) and Polyansky were also giving chase.
However, there was drama in the closing stages as Moulai had to serve a penalty for throwing his swim hat on the ground. As a result, Vasiliev caught him and crossed the line for third just four seconds ahead of the beleaguered Frenchman.
For Gomez though, there was joy at reclaiming his European title. He said: “It was a tough race with conditions in the heat and the wind. The course was tough too, it was a very complicated but I felt good the whole time and I kept pretty solid on the bike.
“I knew I had energy for the run and although it wasn’t a very fast run, it was the same conditions for everyone, but I managed to push hard on the first lap and make a pretty good gap and then I just kept it. I felt tired but pretty happy.”
Alexander Bryukhankov said: “I am happy with second place. Before the race I had hoped to be in the top three and I am pleased.
“The tough part was Sydney last week. It was a long flight to get here from Sydney. My preparations throughout the winter were very good but it was a long trip from Sydney.”
Russian Ivan Vasiliev was delighted with his podium spot. He said: “I’m very happy for third. I think I have secured my qualification for the Olympics so that is my goal.
“I knew I would catch Moulai because he was so tired and I am a faster runner.”
Related Event: 2012 Eilat ETU Triathlon European Championships
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