Well, it was cold but the rain held off for most of the athletes and only really came down heavily for the final stages of the Age Group Standard Race.
Soria? Oh yes! Once again the Spanish Federation has delivered a quality event for the athletes who have travelled so far from all over Europe.
It all began on Saturday and although we could not be there, we had not only the live feed from the Timing Team but also a series of amazing images from Carlos Asensi Catalán, whose photos took us to the event and deep into the action.
Saturday indeed, was the first sequence of races and it was the Junior Athletes, in the morning who set the town alight with their pace.
For the Junior Women, we had highlighted the defending World Champion, wearing #1 and from Switzerland, Delia Sclabas was the one to watch. Her blistering pace over the first 5k set the tone of the race and all the others had to do was to try for the silver and bronze medals. Crossing the finish line after a final run that was at a faster pace than the opening 5k, she cruised home to take gold. Behind her Portugal and Belgium were chasing for the remaining podium places and after losing out to run pace in Quarteira, it was great to see Gabriela Ribeiro PRT now running with greater determination. She had a tough race against Belgium’s Laura Swannet but it was the Belgian athlete who, in the end had just the edge and was able to take home a silver for Belgium Ribeiro’s bronze will be a rich reward for the training she has clearly put in on her running.
With the Junior Men we were treated to a display of speed and professionalism that has not been seen for some time. To truly dominate a race in the way that Alex Yee GBR did, takes us back to the days when Benny Vansteelant led from the gun. Yee’s first 5k was run at 14:48. He took almost 30 seconds out of the chase pack. A 15 second T1 saw him disappear from the blue carpet before any other athlete had arrived. Out on the bike, he was again over 30 seconds quicker than those immediately behind him and having built up such a lead he was able to cruise home to take victory almost a minute ahead of the eldest of the Russian twins, Grigory Antipov who screamed through T2 and had the fastest final 2.5k. He edged out Slovenia’s Matevž Planko, who took bronze. Anyone watching that race will go away knowing that Alex Yee is going places and that he is going fast, very, very fast!
The Elite and U23 women raced together and it would be here that the younger athletes would be seeking to remind the older and more experienced athletes that they were not so far behind them. Indeed, as the run unfolded, it was clear that some were very much in front.
The first 10k was a chance for France’s Sandra Levenez to live up to her pre-race interviews with the Press. She came to Soria in great form and with a mind-set that suggested she was out to win. The 19 second lead she created on the run, seen by everyone chasing her on the out and back lap course, certainly lived up to her predictions and once out on the bike she pushed harder still. She had done what the Junior Brit, Alex Yee had managed and created such a lead that she was able to cruise home to gold.
Behind her the race was heating up as Aviles bronze medal-winner, Margarita Garcia Cañellas ESP, was working hard on the bike and as Michelle Flipo ITU came through to put herself in a threatening position for the final run. Neither of them could have predicted that the French U23 athlete, Lucie Picard who we reported had been working out on the running track, would race through the chase pack and post a remarkable 17:51 for her final 5k. It was not enough to take silver but it knocked Flipo back into 4th.
The U23 race, as part of the Elite race was dominated by Picard. It was a race that saw three of the six athletes lapped on the bike and so with three left it was just a question of which colour medal was available after Picard had sprinted the final 5k. It was silver again for Noelia Juan ESP who just had the edge on teammate Laura Gómez Ramón.
The Para race would see almost a repeat of the Spanish National Championships but with the added excitement of athletes from Great Britain, Italy and Romania. The skies were grey and it looked cold; the sort of cold that made fingers struggle with transitions and calves tighten up in T2.
The medals started to pour in for Spain and with only Spanish athletes racing, it was naturally a clean sweep in the PTHC Men. Gold went to José Manuel Quintero Macías and for him, this victory must be extra sweet as he beat World Champion Gustavo Molina Martinez. Molina had to settle for bronze as between them came José Cristobal Ramos Jiménez.
Racing against the clock it was another gold for Spain when Eva María Moral Pedrero, current World Duathlon Champion, came home.
In the PTS2 category, it was last year’s silver medal winner in Kalkar, Italy’s Alessandro Carvani Minetti whose final run saw him win gold comfortably ahead of Ricardo Marín Arcís who has returned to racing after a couple of years away. Bronze went to the current Spanish champion Jesus Miguel Sánchez Felipe.
For the women and racing under the ITU flag, it was Laia Casino to the delight of the supporters from Andorra, who do not yet have a federation affiliated to ITU.
The biggest category to race was the PTS4 and it was in the men’s wave that we saw athletes from Spain, Romania and Great Britain vie for medals. Race favourite was Kini Carrasco ESP. As defending European Champion, having also won the European Long Distance title in Copenhagen, he pushed the pace but was accompanied by José Manuel Fernández Barranquero they entered T1 together but after a slower transition it took Carrasco some time to catch him and overtake on the bike. T1 lessons having been learnt, Carrasco stormed through T2 and finished the race, with gold, after a supreme final 2.5k at 10:24 pace. Gold to Spain and with Fernández holding the pace, a silver as well. We have seen the biking skills of the young Romanian athlete Robert Tamirjan. On the technically very difficult course in Transylvania last year, where he posted a bike split faster than any of the junior men, he raced around the Soria course over 3 minutes faster than any of his fellow competitors. Bronze went to him and with this speed on the bike and his plans to defend his title again at the Cross Duathlon Championships in Târgu Mureș in July, we are all looking forwards to seeing him race again.
For the women, again it was a race against the clock and the current world champion, Raquel Domínguez Martín pulled in another medal for the host nation.
In the PTS5 category the crowds were treated to once again the delight of watching Rafa Solís Torres race.
Photo:Club Triatlón Soriano
However, this was not to be his day and perhaps with the jet-lag still in his legs, his early explosive pace was soon matched and indeed beaten by Rubén Martínez Rodríguez. Solis found himself in the unusual position of chasing and even with a technically perfect and very fast T1 he was unable to catch Martínez who sped through T2 and had enough left to run easily to victory.
So, gold to Martínez and silver to Solis. Behind them, yes another Spanish athlete, http://www.triathlon.org/athletes/profile/110757/juan_carlos_lopez_mangas”>Juan Carlos López took bronze. The strength and depth of athletes wearing the Spanish national uniform is indeed impressive.
Another gold went to Spain as María Eugenia Piquer Esteve raced the clock.
The final category, PTVI, was also an all-Spanish race. It was Héctor Catalá Laparra, the current Spanish champion, who took early control. Roberto Suero Sánchez chased and edged ahead of Daniel Llambrich Gabriel and the early stages of the race remained unchanged all the way to the finish tape.
The final gold went to Su Rodriguez, reigning World Champion.
The excitement continued into the afternoon, with the final start for the Elite and U23 Men. As expected, the mix of dyed in the wool duathletes and a few triathletes, delivered an exciting opening 10k. For those who know Richard Horton from GB’s Deal Tri, it was amazing to see him perform so well at this level. Over fifty and with a diet that confounds the medical world, he appeared to be leading the race. Thankfully, a quick check with ITU and the athlete database, and any suggestion that it was the same one who raced Age group over long distance for GB years ago was a little off the mark. Instead it was a younger and faster Richard Horton, current GB Duathlon Champion, who led them to T1 in 30:46. Behind him came the more experienced Yohan Le Berre FRA, the 2015 world champion, Emilio Martín ESP and also from France, Benjamin Choquert.
It was a fascinating race out on the bike as positions changed and for a while it looked as if Martín might be in trouble. Great Britain’s Mark Buckingham, bronze medal-winner in Adelaide was pushing the pace but it was the powerful riding of Le Berre and Benoit Nicolas that out them into a commanding position with Martín and then it was the final run from him, at 15:31 pace that took him to a well-deserved victory ahead of Nicolas and Le Berre.
The U23 race saw Britain’s Richard Allen lead them into T1. A text-book race from him amongst the Elite took him to an overall 8th place in the race between Elite and U23 but to a stunning and clear victory in his category despite losing valuable time on the bike. A closing run over 10 seconds faster than anyone else in the U23 category, ensured a comfortable victory over Javier Martín Morales whose performance took him to 9th place in the Elite. It was Nathan Guerbeur FRA, who rounded off the podium.
With the Saturday races over and despite standing around for hours, the Age Group athletes raced on Sunday as the weather, always threatening to turn, did just that.
We will bring you a detailed report on the Age Group athletes, along with the all-important Medal Table in the next couple of days.
ETU would like to say a very special thank you to Carlos Asensi Catalán who has been so busy this weekend, not only taking photos and videos but sending them to us so that we can share them with you. Without doubt he has helped us enjoy the excitement of the 2017 Soria ETU European Duathlon Championships.
Related Event: 2017 Soria ETU Duathlon European Championships
|Results: Elite Men|
|3.||Yohan Le Berre||FRA||01:47:04|
|9.||Javier Martin Morales||ESP||01:50:16|
|10.||Luis Miguel Martin Berlanas||ESP||01:50:24|
|Results: Elite Women|
|2.||Margarita Garcia Cañellas||ESP||02:02:48|
|6.||Julie Chuberre Dode||FRA||02:04:14|
|9.||Sara Bonilla Bernardez||ESP||02:09:02|
|10.||Davinia Albinyana Teruel||ESP||02:09:16|
|Results: U23 Men|
|2.||Javier Martin Morales||ESP||01:50:16|
|6.||Diego Robles Del Moral||ESP||01:51:52|
|7.||João Pedro Ferreira Pereira||POR||01:52:02|
|8.||Jaime González Buganza||MEX||01:52:07|
|10.||Urko Herran Aguilar||ESP||01:55:11|