Racing all over Europe but Karlovy Vary sees Olympians deliver a masterclass

By Paul Groves | 29 Aug, 2016

The event was dominated by the presence of Rio silver medallist, Jonny Brownlee. The event organisers were thrilled that he raced and he stayed on to help out with the children’s event who were delighted to see such a famous athlete.

The swim saw three strong athletes break away from the chasing group.

It was no surprise to see Jonathan Brownlee in that group, working hard with Raoul Shaw and fellow Frenchman, Anthony Pujades. Once onto the bike, a short ride takes them from Lake Rolava, to the city where the punishing laps begin, the three pretty much did to the athletes behind what had been done to all but ten athletes in Rio.

A pace so hard that soon, on the laps that took them up a massive climb, along cobble and around a technically challenging course that has beaten many before, that of the 49 men who started an unprecedented 20 were lapped. Amongst these athletes were some very strong riders.

The power of the Yorkshireman was just too great.

Even for the two Frenchman, Brownlee was too strong and he arrived in T2, running down the steps into the square and to his racking position, that he had a lead over them of 40 seconds.

The run course here is also a challenging one with a biting climb on each lap. Brownlee kicked and nobody could go with him. It is not often that we see a victory of 4 minutes over everyone else. It was seen here in Karlovy Vary and, as a warm up for a WTS race in Edmonton, this could not have been better.

Behind him, there were still two French athletes but Shaw had been dropped and it was Simon Viain whose work on the bike had been just enough to take him head of Menno Koolhaas NLD. Czech fans had something to celebrate when Jan Čelůstka claimed 4th place and a valuable number of points.

What can you say after a victory like that? Well, it was simply, “Great time racing at Karlovy Vary today. Won a lot of chocolate and an interesting trophy. What a great course!”

Many lessons were learnt at this race.

Silver medallist, Pujades, “Note to self: never, ever, take off alone in a breakaway with Mr Brownlee. My legs are still shaking. Very happy with silver!”

For Viain, “Third today at the ETU Cup in Karlovy Vary having suffered on a really tough course and also under the harsh law of Jonathan Brownlee. A good weekend with the French team in spite of everything and returning to France with enough chocolate to keep me busy for a while.”

The crowds had been treated to a fantastic sight and could witness at first hand the immense power of the silver Olympic medal winner. They were also treated to a nail-biting finish in the women’s race. The swim saw a convincing lead from visiting Australian athlete Danielle De Francesco. Two top ten finishes in recent weeks in Malmö and Tønsberg showed her to be in good form. She had a comfortable lead over fellow Aussie, Natalie van Coevorden.

Behind them came a steady flow of athletes. Tucked into this chasing group was Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratova, GB’s Heather Sellars with some strong domestic performances behind her in recent weeks and Léonie Périault, who is no stranger to the podium here after her bronze in 2015. 4th place in Rotterdam on her return to our sport after a lengthy rest due to injury, Italy’s Sara Dossena, so strong on the bike and run, was some way back as the athletes made their way to the city along the 5k linking route before those hilly laps.

The leading group of women were caught by Dossena by about 20k but as they went in to T2 she lost some 20 seconds on the leaders. It was Yelistratova, as always, racing as hard as she could and using her now famous high-tempo running pace who was aiming for one thing and one thing only. She wanted gold. She wanted the title and the points but it was not going to be easy. Périault was pushing hard and caught the leading Ukrainian athlete at the 5k point.  Alongside her came Dossena and the three battled for the podium places around the twists and climbs of the spa city.

As the blue carpet approached it was then a sprint to the line by the three athletes and from somewhere, Yelistratova found that extra kick and just managed to hold off the young Frenchwoman who had, amazingly, just enough to take the silver from Dossena who settled for bronze.

Great focus from Yelistratova against one of the top runners of Europe.

After the race Yelistratova said, “I’m extremely happy with my recent win! Maybe this result was the most valuable for me this season since I managed to overcome the fatigue and work hard until the finish line. I felt very tired all these recent days after racing Olympics and really long sleepless way back home, so I didn’t have any confidence at all for today. Though I was surprised indeed with my swim, being 4th in the exit from the water. Bike course is really interesting and hilly in Karlovy Vary. Normally I love the hills, but today I have to be modest in our pack. On the run I choose the strategy to lead from the beginning, though it didn’t work and girls caught me in the middle of the run. The hardest part of the race for me was final lap, and I’m satisfied that I managed to overcome my thoughts and convince myself to stay with the leaders since I realized that the gold could be decided last moment. There were several Ukrainian tourists in Karlovy Vary and their cheering also gave me additional energy. But first of all I’d like to thank Vladimir Turbaevskiy. Nothing can be more enjoyable than the progress in results!”

For Périault, “A lovely silver at the ETU Cup in Karlovy Vary that I hope will confirm my selection for the World U23 Championships. A shame that I lost out again in a sprint. One day I’ll get there!”

For the Italian returning to form, “I am very happy. The swim went pretty well and I was only about a minute down on the leaders. Out on the bike and I was able to catch them by about half way but then lost some 20 seconds in T2. Onto the run and I took them one by one until I got to the group with Yelistratova and Périault. Even increasing the pace they still stayed with me and in the sprint I ended up in 3rd place.”

Italy can go away happy with three of their athletes in the top ten but the day belongs to Yelistratova who, having just finished in Rio, came directly back to Europe to support the ETU Rankings Series and her dedication to the series now places her comfortably in the lead. 

For the full results, including all those lapped athletes, please click this link.

For a most impressive gallery of images, please click here

As the Elite were fighting the hills in Karlovy Vary, the Juniors were the showcase in Romania at the Tulcea event.

The women’s race saw previous medal-winner, Daryna Moskalenko AZE make her mark in the swim, as she led with Dorottya Petrov HUN and Dóra Fuchs also from Hungary from the swim. 

They were marginally ahead of the chasing athletes. Sofiya Pryyma UKR used her strong biking skills to catch the leaders along with Austria’s Pia Totschnig and it was indeed the young Austrian who set the standard on the bike in the wet and rainy conditions.

Corners were taken carefully as the leading athletes calculated their positions.

Even with great caution the corners were a little too slippery for some.

Once the run started the yong Austrian pulled into a commanding position and the only threat was to come from the Ukrainian athlete and the Ukrainian-born athlete now racing for Azerbaijan.

They were pacing each other some way behind her.

Totschnig was supreme and easily took gold with Pryyma settling for silver and Moskalenko once again winning bronze.

For Totschnig this was her first ever victory on the ETU circuit and without doubt she is one to watch in the future. Pryyma’s silver was a significant medal for her after her Transylvanian Cross-Duathlon gold and has shown that her training is paying dividends. For Moskalenko another bronze but she will acknowledge that against the run pace of the Austrian there was not much more she could do.

The men would see once more a strong presence from the younger Austrian team who had already thrown themselves into the pre-race activities.

It was the strong swimming of Hungarian Gergő Soós that took him to the early lead. We have seen his power in the water this season and in Tulcea he made his intentions clear from the very start. He led a long stream of athletes out of the water and wasting no time he set off on the bike with the stronger riders working with him to drop those chasing.

This was a race where the Junior Men showed great tactical awareness. Lukas Kollegger AUT had a strong swim but chose to stay away from the leading bikers and effectively stemmed any attempts to catch the breakaway group at the front as the other Austrians pushed hard at the front.

This enabled a gap to be created in the penultimate lap of the bike. The run was an Austro-Hungarian battle for podium places but the domination threatened by Soós held and it was gold to Hungary. There then followed the chase for medals amongst the Austrians and it was the extra speed on the run that gave silver to Philip Pertl and the bronze to Lukas Gstaltner to add to his Riga bronze.

It was a top day for Austria with five athletes in the top ten. The final word went to Gstaltner, “Another bronze at an ETU Cup; this time in Tulcea. With this I should make it into the top ten of the Junior Men Rankings. In the second to last lap it was Philip Pertl, Leon Pauger, Tjebbe Kaindl and me who could break away from the main pack whilst Lukas Kollegger worked tactically and pretty much prevented the main group from catching us. That’s how we got 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th places. I am just as happy about my place as I am with the strong team-work and the great continuity of the team. This is reflected in the results today because the Junior Women were also successful with Pia Totschnig and Magdalena Früh even after her crash, got 6th. Many thanks to the ÖTRV, who made this trip possible and to Peter Kriegelsteinerr and Christoph Totschnig for the excellent support.”

For the full results, please click this link.

Our final race of the weekend was in fact the first race. The Nordic Nations got together for their regional championships in a location that is well-known to many triathletes and duathletes. Denmark was always hoping for good performances in Fredericia as part of the Nordic Championships but they would be facing competition from a number of other countries.

In the women’s race it was Portugal’s Vera Vilaça, who, along with her brother have been following the northern European races, led the swim. Along with Augusta Grønberg Christensen DEN, she raced into T1 ahead of Gudlaug Edda Hannesdottir ISL, Anne Holm DEN and Amanda Bohlin SWE.

Strong riding from a determined group of Danish athletes, including Pernille Linder Christiansen, Dorthea Jørgensen, Karoline Hemmsen and Dina Mønsted excited the crowds who were supporting the race and it was the final run pace of Bohlin that blew the race apart and too her to a gold. Christensen had extra pace to take silver and it was Jørgensen in the bronze medal position.

A solid showing from the Danish women but a great victory for the powerful running of Bohlin who can add this to her gold from Kupiškis last year. Her running was truly impressive and 90 seconds ahead of anyone else.

The Danish Federation was delighted with the performance of its athletes. Could the men do any better?

For the men, a stream of six athletes headed the swim, led by Daniel Bækkegård DEN and the powerful swimmer from Norway, Eirik Ravnan. Bækkegård pulled out on the bike and that left the door open to Rio Olympian Andreas Schilling to delight the home crowds. Could he outrun the younger Emil Deleuran Hansen who had done so well in Tønsberg and who was having a great race despite his claim to have had a bad year of swimming but who was celebrating his birthday on race day?

It was indeed these two who battled for the top places on the podium and who gave the spectators something to watch and cheer about. In the end it was Schilling, powered by Rio who took gold and a second silver went to the birthday boy. Behind them came Jannik Schaufler GER for his first Elite podium following a gold as a junior in Nottingham in 2014. He took the bronze but as it was the Nordic Championships third palce went to Denmark’s Casper Stenderup Korch.

For a full set of results, please click here.

Article gallery
Related Event: 2016 Karlovy Vary ETU Triathlon Premium European Cup
28 Aug, 2016 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Jonathan Brownlee GBR 01:50:34
2. Anthony Pujades FRA 01:54:54
3. Simon Viain FRA 01:55:12
4. Menno Koolhaas NED 01:55:59
5. Jan Celustka CZE 01:56:15
6. Gregory Barnaby ITA 01:56:38
7. Drew Box AUS 01:57:10
8. Erwin Vanderplancke BEL 01:57:49
9. Ian Manthey IRL 01:58:11
10. Linus Stimmel GER 01:58:20
Results: Elite Women
1. Yuliya Yelistratova UKR 02:07:22
2. Leonie Periault FRA 02:07:23
3. Sara Dossena ITA 02:07:27
4. Heather Sellars GBR 02:08:18
5. Natalie Van Coevorden AUS 02:08:50
6. Giorgia Priarone ITA 02:08:56
7. Julie Derron SUI 02:09:16
8. Justine Guerard FRA 02:09:24
9. Verena Steinhauser ITA 02:09:39
10. Petra Kurikova CZE 02:10:10