Norway do it again as Solveig Lovseth is crowned the new European Games 2023 champion in Krakow (Poland). The young Norwegian delivered master class on how to show the watts on the 40km flat course to finish the race with a solid 10k that secured gold for the 23-year-old ahead of Julia Hauser (SUI) and Jolien Vermeylen (BEL).
48 women from 24 nations lined up on the pontoon at the Nowa Huta Lake in Krakow on Tuesday morning just as the rain gave a little break to the athletes. And as soon as the women were in the water, quickly Sophie Alden (GBR) and Mathilde Gaultier (FRA) decided to try to stretch the field as much as they could, setting up a pace that no one else on the field was able to follow. By the time the duo dived in for the second lap of the 1500m swim, they had almost 5 seconds ahead of a small group of chasers, a distance that only grew in the second half of the swim segment.
By the time both of them reached the stairs out of the water, some athletes were still in the last buoy, and Gaultier and Alden used the long run to transition to try to open a gap even bigger, enough for them to start the bike by themselves. Behind them, Anna Godoy Contreras (ESP), Jolien Vermeylen (BEL), Erin McConnell (IRL), Sara Guerrero Manso (ESP), and Cecilia Maria Santamaria Surroca (ESP) tried to get organised quickly as soon as they were on their bikes, but they knew that the great power on the bike was right behind them.
Almost 20 seconds behind, some of the strongest bikers managed to catch this chase group, with Lotte Miller (NOR), Solveig Lovseth (NOR), Verena Steinhauser (ITA), Andrea Merle (FRA) and Alberte Kjaer Pedersen (DEN) quickly taking the lead, not only to stay out of trouble in the wet streets around the lake but also to start a chase that will take them to first absorb Gaultier and Alden in lap 3 out of eight, and make it all a large and compact lead group by the end of the fourth lap.
It was at that moment when both Norwegian athletes decided to try to have an impact and break the group, with Miller and Lovseth pushing so hard on front that the group kept loosing individuals on the back. But their efforts were not successful, and with two laps to go, and the rain pouring down on them again, it was clear that the large pack will make it to the second transition together, so they just tried to stay safe and save some legs for the final 10km run.
And it was Tjasa Vrtacic (SLO) the first one to hit transition and also the fastest one to get on her running shoes and leave T2, followed by Lovseth, Nora Gmur (SUI) and Alissa Koenig (SUI). The four of them were joined in the first kilometer by Verena Steinhauser (ITA), Julia Hauser (AUT), Andrea Merle (FRA), Selina Klamt (GER) and Jolien Vermeylen. By the time they hit the half way point of the run, the leading group was only of four women -Lovseth, Vermeylen, Hauser and Merle-, all of them looking at each other and starting to play a bit of cat and mouse. And it was finally the younger of them four, Lovseth, who made the final move, leaving behind first Merle and Vermeylen with 1km to go, and adding the last extra gear right before heading to the blue carpet.
The Norwegian, who landed in Krakow less than 24 hours ago coming from WTCS Montreal, was all smiles when she grabbed the tape to claim the European Games title. “Im really surprised with this. Montreal was my prority but things were not as planned there, I DNF and then the Mixed Relay was cancelled. I landed here, my bike arrived late but then today it all went to plan. When I saw that I was out of the water together with Lotte (Miller) I was happy cause I knew that we both could work together on the bike. We did and I really enjoyed it. I think we both made the bike quite hard for the others. And I was able to do a hard and fast run after a hard bike, so I am really pleased. It is also my best result internationally, is the first time that I will get to hear the National anthem on the podium. I am really happy”, she said.
“Today was really hard. the run was really hard, Lovseth pushed me really hard, she was really strong so I am really happy with the second place today”, said Hauser, who claimed the silver medal after stopping the clock on 1h57’15’‘. The third place was for Vermeylen, all smiles on the finish line, while Selina Klamt sprinted to the fourth position, leaving Merle in fifth place on the day.
Jule Behrens (GER), Verena Steinhauser (ITA) and Mathilde Gaultier (FRA) closed the top eight, while Alice Betto (ITA) finished in the ninth position barely seven months after giving birth to her first child.
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|