Valencia; a true test for all athletes
This weekend saw the worst weather possible threaten to ruin all the plans of athletes and organisers alike but with a small window of opportunity and some hefty re-scheduling, the race went ahead. The European Paratriathlon Championships joined the U23 European Championships and with all categories represented, the racing was intense, thrilling and ultimately, with well-earned medals.
With the air temperature at 24’C and water at 23.8’C, it was a wetsuit swim. For all athletes, the course was a one-lap, 750m swim, followed by a 20k, 3-lap bike and a closing run of two laps to make the 5k.
For the female PTWC athletes, there was a staggered start, with the H2 athletes setting off 04:04 after the H1 athletes. The total race time of all H2 athletes was therefore the addition of the five splits plus 04:04.
For the women, it was Germany’s Christiane Reppe who took control immediately. Her swim time of 11:14 did not mean she was first out of the water but it was clear that her pace was greater than those she was racing against. Ahead of her, Margret Ijdema NED wasted no time in T1 and was soon out on the bike course, powering away. Reppe lost time against the Dutch athlete in transition but soon set about the attack on the bike and pulled back more time, with her strongest performance yet to come. Behind them, GB’s Jade Hall was looking strong but the defending champion, from her victory in Tartu last year, Eva María Moral Pedrero was facing the reality that there were stronger athletes out on the course and that today might not be the day.
Reppe was strong on the bike and came into T2 just 2 minutes behind Ijdema. With Lausanne still fresh in her mind, where she finished the fastest of all European athletes, to take bronze, she knew what she had to do for the final run. It was a close call, though and it was only close to the finish that the German’s power took her past and on to win the title. Former European Champion, Hall, came in third, with the fastest 5k of the day, a blistering 13:26!
After the race, a clearly delighted Reppe shared her joy, “Europameisterin ? Wow… was für ein Tag!! ? Zuerst mussten wir zittern, ob das Rennen aufgrund des schlechten Wetters überhaupt stattfinden würde und dann endet der Tag so fantastisch!! ? Tatsächlich ist es mir gelungen, innerhalb weniger Monate in der Paratriathlon Weltspitze anzukommen! Ich Danke Dir liebe Anna für Deine Unterstützung während der letzten Rennen!! Danke auch ganz besonders an Frauke und Benny für das teilen Eurer wertvollen Erfahrungen der letzten Monate!! ? Ich bin sehr stolz Teil des Paratriathlon Elite-Team Germanys zu sein! Mit Euch und all meinen großartigen Sponsoren blicke ich positiv in die kommende Saison!!
European Champion ? Wow… what an incredible day!! ? First we haven‘t even been sure if the competition will take part because of the bad weather and then it went out so well!! ? In fact I succeeded and left a footprint at the latest competitions! I thank you dear Anna for the support at the last events!! Special thanks I want to say to Frauke und Benny for sharing your precious experiences with me during the last months!! ? I’m proud to be part of the Paratriathlon Team Germany! Together with you and all the great sponsors I have I’m looking forward to the upcoming season!!” As a relative newcomer to triathlon, she has, in the space of only a couple of years, established herself as one of the strongest in her category.”
In German, the TV report from NDR is here for you to watch.
For Ijdema, this was a solid silver and Bas de Bruin, the National coach was there to comment, “‘Heel mooi tweede”, concludeerde bondscoach Bas de Bruin na afloop. ‘Het was jammer dat het wheelerparkoers, met veel haakse bochten, haar niet helemaal lag, maar ze heeft het ontzettend goed gedaan. Een mooie revanche voor het WK waar ze onlangs achtste werd’. ‘A really good silver’, concluded National Coach Bas de Bruin after the finish. ‘It was a shame that the bike course, with its many turns didn’t really suit her but she did really well. A good revenge for the Worlds, where she came home 8th.’”
For the defending champion, “Hoy medalla de chocolate en el campeonato de Europa, no estoy muy contenta pero hay que seguir! Queda mucho camino por recorrer hasta mi sueño! Seguimos entrenando seguimos mejorando! A chocolate medal for me today at the European Championships, not so happy but I have to carry on. Still a long road ahead until I get my dream. I will continue training and improving.”
The Men’s race saw the same staggered start, with the H2 athletes setting off 03:08 after the H1 athletes. The total race time of all H2 athletes was therefore the addition of the five splits plus 03:08. 11 athletes racing for the title and a real showdown with the reigning World Champion, Jetze Plat absent, it looked like it was going to be a fight for the title between Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain but as the race unfolded, the record books were set to be re-written.
A strong swim took Antonio Daniel Muller into the lead. Back racing for Germany after a brief spell in a Spanish uniform, Muller was supreme in the water as we have come to expect from the twice World Aquathlon Champion but out on the bike was caught by the immense power of the flying Dutchman, Geert Schipper. Having shipped water in his goggles during the swim, losing time as he drifted off course, the defending champion and holder of the world record holder of the “Hour”, with 42.165k, now looked set to take the title once more but ahead of him was Italy’s Giovanni Achenza and with the staggered start it was impossible for Schipper to counter the three minutes and eight seconds. Achenza took the title, with Schipper storming into silver position that set him up for his next race that required him to fly directly to Emmen for the World Handbike Championships. The 65k course there saw him clock an average 55km per hour with a top ten finish.
The final medal went to Austria’s Florian Brungraber whose closing 5k was a storming 12:38. The best result of his career and a small consolation for an athlete denied a start in Slovenia at the end of September. For him, the result is good news for the “Road to Tokyo”, “Ich habe heute eine gute Leistung abrufen können und dabei den dritten Platz in einem sehr starken Starterfeld erreicht! Mit dem 3. Platz bei der EM bin ich zufrieden und happy! I was able to pull up a good performance today and get a 3rd place in a tough field. Happy with 3rd in the European Championships!”
In the PTS2 category, six nations were vying for medals in the women’s race. Defending Champion, Fran Brown GBR was clearly race favourite, with her recently-won World title and from the very moment the start signal was sounded, she was powering away from the pack. Chasing her was Finland’s Liisa Lilja, who despite her best efforts, could not match the bike power of the British athlete, who was by now pulling further away from any threat. Brown had a clear run to the finish, with Lilja secure in the silver medal position. Behind her, it was Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani, who cruised home for the bronze. Despite being messed around by British Airways, who cancelled her flight at the last moment, causing unnecessary stress, Brown was impressive and her victory is a clear signal of her current form.
The men’s race saw 5 nations represented and with a last-minute DNS from the defending European champion and World Bronze medal-winner, Maurits Morsink NED. With World Champion, Jules Ribstein FRA looking strong, it was going to be an interesting battle with GB’s Paralympic Champion Andrew Lewis. With two European title behind him, Lewis had out-biked and out-run Ribstein in Tartu but had seen the tables turned in Lausanne. From the start, the Frenchman pushed the pace and exited the water with a 15 second lead. Lewis, a few steps ahead of Spain’s Lionel Morales, who got huge support from the local crowds. Despite the support from the sidelines, Morales was unable to stay with Lewis, who set about chasing the leader. Lewis lost valuable time when he shipped his chain and had a frantic few moments getting his hands covered in grease. Morales’ lead was good and despite a solid effort, Lewis was unable to catch up.
Into T2 and both Morales and Lewis lost time to Ribstein. Out on the run course, Lewis was stronger but coming to the line, he knew that the win would go to the Frenchman. Seeing teammate, Lauren Steadman just ahead of him, he eased off the pace, knowing that he could not be caught, allowing Steadman that wonderful moment of grabbing the finish tape. So, the damage had been done and gold went to France with Great Britain just missing out, and settling for silver. The hosts got bronze and Morales got the loudest cheer from the partisan spectators.
“Champion d’Europe !!! Hier à Valencia c’était « muy difficult », plus dur qu’il y a 15 jours à Lausanne. Mais je réussi tout de même à confirmer, pour 15 petites secondes. Météo dantesque, parcours vélo technique et parsemé d’embûches, j’ai perdu 1 minute sur le bord de la route à remettre ma chaîne en place… Le triathlon est un sport mécanique ? Merci à tous, famille, sponsors, staff, copains. Yesterday in Valencia it was ‘muy difficult’, much harder than a couple of weeks ago in Lausanne. But I won nevertheless, by 15 little seconds. The weather was horrendous, the bike course was technical and challenging. I lost a minute on the side of the road trying to get my chain back on – triathlon, a mechanical sport ! Thanks to my family, sponsors, staff and mates.”
For Lewis, after the setback of the classification changes that saw the category he had won in Rio being removed from the Tokyo Games, his win in Besançon gave him hope. His focus now on helping others and you can read all about it here.
”¡¡Bronce en el Cpto. de Europa!! Muy contento tras terminar la prueba de hoy en la tercera posición. Fue muy dura debido al mal tiempo que está sufriendo Valencia este fin de semana pero al final hemos podido hacer otro podio. Del agua salía de los primeros y pude mantener el ritmo durante el ventoso recorrido. En la carrera a pie pude adelantar al francés, Stephane Bahier y mantener la distancia con Vasilii Egorov, así que muy contento por esta nueva medalla. ¡¡SEGUIMOS!! Bronze at the European Championships. Very happy after finishing the race today in 3rd. It was very hard because of the bad weather that hit the city of Valencia this week but in the end I got a podium place. I came out of the water in the first group and was able to keep up the pace along the very windy bike laps. During the run, I was able to take advantage of Stephane Bahier and keep ahead of Vasilii Egorov, so I’m very happy with my new medal. Let’s go!!”
The Women’s PTS3 race was going to be a repeat of Tartu and Lausanne, with France fielding Elise Marc and Russia’s Anna Plotnikova. Leading in the swim, Marc used the wind to her advantage out on the bike but it was there that Plotnikova dug deep and pulled back a minute on the French double World and double European Champion . Out on the final 5k run, the laps enabled each athlete to check the pace and it was clear that the Russian was going all out. 500M from the finish and Marc’s lead was down to just 50m. At 200m, just 50m. With the Russian supporters screaming out their encouragement and with both athletes going flat out, Marc closed her eyes and dug to the very depth of her reserves. The title was hers, by just 7 seconds. It was one of the closest finishes; a truly thrilling end to an epic battle between two great athletes.
From Marc, “Bref une belle bagarre où je suis allée au bout de moi-même ! Aussi je peux te dire merci Anna Plotnikova de m’avoir poussé dans mes retranchements ! Prochaine étape maintenant la coupe du monde à Alanya Triathlon le 6 octobre prochain ! Well, in short, that was a great battle and one where I went to my limit. A big thank you to Anna Plotnikova, for having pushed me so hard. Next race will be the World Cup in Alanya, on 6th October.”
The Men’s race saw the defending World and European Champion, Daniel Molina give the crowds a real show as he raced against arch-rivals Nico van der Burgt NED and Victor Chebotarev. The three had gone head to head in Lausanne, with Molina claiming the title there only a few weeks ago but even with this course, entirely different, the power of the Dutchman on the bike could not match the pace of the Spaniard and from the start, Molina was ahead. Losing only a few seconds in T1 and out on the bike, Molina was cheered on by the crowds out on the run course and cruised home to take this European title and add it to his collection of wins. Silver went once again to van der Burgt and mirroring the Lausanne result, it was bronze for Chebotarev.
From Antonio Román, a senior politician in Molina’s home town of Guadalajara, “TRICAMPEÓN de Europa. Una vez más, mi más sincera enhorabuena y mi agradecimiento por llevar el nombre de Guadalajara por todo lo alto. Un orgullo y todo un ejemplo de superación, esfuerzo y mucho trabajo. ¡Enhorabuena, campeón! Champion of Europe. Once again, my most sincere congratulations and my thanks for taking the name of Guadalajara for everything high. A pride and an example of overcoming, effort and a lot of work. Congratulations, champ!”
The defending champion from Great Britain Hannah Moore, having won the World title, closed her 2019 racing on the best of high points. Not racing in Valencia, she was nevertheless cheering on all the Brits from afar. With Moore absent, who might the title go to? Well, having been on the podium in Lausanne to collect the bronze, it was Germany’s Elke van Engelen whose win in Valencia takes her a step closer to Tokyo. Her bike and run took her up to an ahead of the early race leader, Evgeniya Koroleva RUS, who has consolidated her racing from Aguilas and Besançon and put behind her the disappointment from Tartu. Bronze went to the “New Kid on the block”, Eva Kumová SVK. What a great way to start your internation al triathlon career!
A sizeable field was on the start line for the men and with defending champion and reigning World Champion, Alexis Hanquinquant looking hungry for yet another title, the rest of the field knew they would have a tough time. An opening 10:19 swim set the tone and the 4-times World Champion, 2-times European Champion pulled further away on the bike. His lightning-fast 5k took him home with a huge winning margin. Behind him, the battle was being fought for the remaining spots on the podium and it was Sebastian Engwald Jensen DEN and Croatia’s Antonio Franko who were going head to head. Jensen had sped past Franko in T1 and kept up the pressure all the way to the line, to take the silver with just 7 seconds separating him from the Croatian.
After the race, Hanquinquant said, “Je suis heureux de devenir pour la 3ème fois consécutif champion d’Europe ?. Hier à Valencia malgré des conditions climatiques difficiles, j’ai réalisé une course solide. Merci à tous pour votre soutien, à ma famille, à mes partenaires, aux staffs, à la fftri et à ma team France. I am very happy to get the European title for the third year in a row. Yesterday in Valencia, despite the tough weather conditions, I had a solid race. Thanks to everyone for your support, to my family, to my partners, to the staff, to FFTri and Team France.”
Lausanne saw a thrilling finish in the women’s PTS5 category, with the multiple World and European Champion, Lauren Steadman losing out by just three seconds to team-mate Claire Cashmore. A year ago in Tartu, Steadman had escaped on the bike after a tough battle in the swim and so it was that the two met again in Valencia. Steadman worked hard in the swim and exited ahead of Cashmore but a swift transition took Cashmore back into contention. It was neck and neck on the bike but the transition skills of Cashmoore took her out onto the run course ahead of Steadman. A mightily impressive run from Steadman took her back into the lead and she crossed the line to take her 7th European title. Cashmore was comfortably ahead of France’s Gwladys Lemoussu and so we had a repeat of the Tartu podium. All three medal-winners had been on the podium in Rio, with Cashmore collecting medals in the swimming before moving her focus to triathlon in 2017.
For the men, it was a chance for Germany’s Martin Schulz to collect his 8th European title. He would have to keep his mind focussed, with George Peasgood GBR and his brilliant swim pace, it was with almost a minute deficit that Schulz set about the attack and it was out on the bike that his power took him back into contention. Catching the Brit in T2; game on! As the positions in the race changed with each transition, the nearest threat to Schulz claiming the title once more was Spain’s Jairo Ruiz López. Schulz had seen the threat before in Tartu when Ruiz upped the pace on the final run but that kick did not materialise in Valencia despite the crowds urging him on. Schulz went all the way home to claim his title. Ruiz settled for another silver behind the German and it was a fast-running Alexandr Ialchik RUS, who claimed the bronze. The Russian now has a bronze, a silver from Geneva in 2015 and a gold from the Winter Triathlon in Otepää in 2017.
The win has assured Schulz his place in Tokyo, according to the German press, who are fully behind the Leipzig-based athlete.
The final category was also raced with a staggered start. The B2 and B3 athletes started the race 03:48 after B1 athletes. The total time of B2 and B3 athletes is the addition of the five splits plus 03:48. Italy’s Anna Barbaro led them out of the swim with a 14 second advantage but was soon caught on the bike by Melissa Reid GBR. Soon enough, the reigning World Champion and holder of numerous World and European titles in triathlon, duathlon and aquathlon, Su Rodriguez was in command and with her pace over the final run, the title was hers. Reid dug deep and held off Barbaro to take the silver with just six seconds separating her from the Italian’s bronze.
For the European Champion, Rodríguez, her place at the very top of the rankings is secured and her focus will now turn to 2020 and to Tokyo.
For the men, the staggered start saw the B2 and B3 athletes start the race 03:21 after B1 athletes. The total time of B2 and B3 athletes is the addition of the five splits plus 03:21. Defending champion, Dave Ellis came to the race with a silver medal from Lausanne. His pace in the water was as expected and even with the 3:21 he needed to win, it looked like it could be done. Out on the bike and disaster struck. A blow-out ruined any hope yet with guide, Luke Pollard, they battled on, with an impressive closing run that was almost a minute faster than any other pair.
With the European Champion out of the reckoning, it was looking good for Spain’s Héctor Catalá Laparra, who just happened to be the reigning World Champion. Ahead of him was his teammate, José Luis García Serrano who, in the B1 Category had started first. For the crowds there was now an amazing battle between the Spaniards with Catalá closing fast. Desperately pushing the pace over the 5k, he simply ran out of space and crossed the line behind García, giving the home crowds a real chance to scream out their support. Behind him came Frenchman, Antoine Pérel to claim the bronze.
Catalá came to the race assured of his place on a plane going to Tokyo. Ahead of the race he said, “Hace 9 años debutaba en el triatlón de Valencia. Un deportista totalmente amateur y popular.
Hoy estoy sentado en la mesa de la presentación, después de haber sido campeón del Mundo, con el billete a los juegos de Tokyo en el bolsillo y preparado para disputar el campeonato de Europa.
Por favor, no me despierten. 9 years ago I was in the triathlon of Valencia. A totally amateur and popular athlete. Today I am sitting at the table of the presentation, after being champion of the world, with the ticket to the Tokyo games in the pocket and ready to play the European Championship. Please do not wake me up.” After the race he was delighted with silver and especially the reception he got in Valencia.
For Pérel, the bronze medal is his best championship result so far. Ahead of the race, he was out checking the bike course, “Rien ne peut nous arrêter ! Nothing can stop us now!”. On race day, “15h00: On saute dans l’eau et on se tient au ponton. Jump into the water and grab the pontoon.
15h01: On s’élance ! We’re off!
15h02: J’ai de l’eau plein les lunettes Goggles full of water.
15h03: On arrive à la première bouée, c’est la baston ! First buoy – it’s a dogfight.
15h06: Seconde bouée, on est dans les pieds des Ukrainiens 8ièmes mondiaux qui sortent toujours 45secondes devant nous, on ne les lâche pas ! Onto the 2nd buoy and we are on the feet of the Ukrainians. They were 8th in the Worlds and always seem to get out of the water 45 seconds ahead of us. We hold on.” Read his account in full here.
When the Championships looked like they would have to be cancelled due to the worst weather since records began, it was always going to be a tough call. Eventually, the window of opportunity came but the athletes had missed out on much of the usual preparation. Despite all this, Su Rodríguez had these positive comments, “First of all we need to thank all the LOC and ETU members for the difficult work they had in their hands for this weekend with a lot of last minute venue preparation due to the terrible weather conditions. It must be very hard setting all up in limited time.” She went on to highlight areas where improvements could be made and as usual, her comments were supported by her fellow athletes.
The next challenge will be in Alanya over the weekend 5th and 6th October. Click this link for details.
Our very great thanks to Marco Bardella and to the Spanish Federation for the images. Click here for the full album.
Related Event: 2019 Valencia ETU Paratriathlon European Championships
|Results: PTWC Men|
|1.||Giovanni Achenza H1||ITA||01:01:13|
|2.||Geert Schipper H2||NED||01:02:20|
|3.||Florian Brungraber H2||AUT||01:04:38|
|4.||Ahmed Andaloussi H1||FRA||01:05:08|
|5.||Alexandre Paviza H1||FRA||01:05:14|
|6.||Joseph Townsend H2||GBR||01:05:48|
|7.||Antonio Daniel Muller H1||GER||01:06:53|
|8.||Benjamin Lenatz H1||GER||01:07:45|
|9.||Pier Alberto Buccoliero H2||ITA||01:13:00|
|10.||Jose Manuel Quintero Macias H1||ESP||01:13:45|
|Results: PTS2 Men|
|7.||Jose Joaquín Martínez Rincon||ESP||01:42:45|