It was the junior athletes racing in Tábor on Sunday who put on a great show for the many athletes gathered for the Tábor Triathlon Festival. Gold medals went to the home favourite, Alžběta Hrušková in the Women’s race and to Ángel Sánchez Carreras ESP in the Men’s race.
Hrušková’s victory in the ETU Indoor Cup in Liévin at the start of the season showed us all that her speed could be explosive yet here she was in a Sprint Distance event, having to use all her running power to claim the top place on the podium.
The swim was led easily by Barbara de Koning who entered T1 with a 24 second advantage.
Out onto the bike, the Dutchwoman had to wait for some time before the chasing group caught her and amongst them was the multi-terrain athlete from Slovakia, Zuzana Michaličková. Within the group was Candice Denizot FRA, Silke de Wolde NED, Brea Roderick NZL, Tjaša Vrtačič SLO and Belgium’s Cato Cassiers who was easily the strongest cyclist of the day.
The run was dominated by Hrušková and she crossed the finish line with over 30 seconds to spare. Roderick had greater pace than De Koning, claiming another podium place for the Kiwis at this race and the Dutch athlete’s early swim lead, was rewarded with the bronze medal.
We’ll leave the final word to the winner, “Oh yeahhhhh! Crazy was to come back after all the struggle this has brought me. Winning at home and standing on the podium with the best teammate makes it even more special.”
The men’s race saw a small lead in the swim, with Gergely Kiss HUN leading them out and into T1. He soon had the company of Denis Kolobrodov RUS and the pair set off onto the bike course but behind them some serious riding was being done by Ángel Sánchez Carreras and teammate, Sergio Baxter Cabrera ESP. Cheers were loud for the home favourite, Radim Grebík who made up for lost time in the swim with an outstanding show of power on the bike.
The Spaniards, looking strong, seemed to be assured of the top two places on the podium but Grebík was not only strong on the bike but flew on the run, overtaking Baxter to split the Spanish domination. Gold went to Sánchez, who claims his first victory at international level and, along with Baxter, has pushed the Spanish team almost to the top of the ETU Junior Rankings.
The combined efforts of the Czech athletes raised their team 3 places in the rankings and lie ahead of Great Britain. The remaining cup races will be critical for the top positions.
A great weekend of racing at this venue, Martin Hotový spoke on behalf of the organisers, “It is a huge successes! As organizers, we couldn’t have desired anything better.”
The event also featured a surprise visit from Triathlon Team Tábor’s oldest athlete. A veteran of many races, up to full distance, he was delighted to have the chance to pose for a photo with the newest generation of athletes.
Down in Istanbul, it was the Balkan Championships. These events move from location to location around the Balkan region every year and this time, with the multiple title holder for the men’s crown racing in Almaty, it was an open race for the men.
It was a battle right from the start with home favourite, Gültigin Er and Luka Grgorinić CRO swimming stroke for stroke. Er has been strong in the water in the past but has on occasion faded on the bike and run but this time around, he was able to work well with Grgorinić to create the breakaway that would assure them a podium place.
Attracting a ten-second penalty, Er’s chances looked ruined but despite the lost time and indeed the pressure upon him, he caught and overtook the Croatian to claim his first ever victory. Grgorinić had done more than enough to stay with the silver medal but the fast running of Iran’s Ali Rezvani gave him the bronze and his first podium.
Unlike the men’s event, the crown in the women’s event has moved from head to head over the years. It was victory in Istanbul for Željka Šaban Miličić CRO. With a win last year over the middle distance in Havana, she was now dropping down to an explosive sprint distance. The oldest athlete in the race, she was in the Sofia U23 Championships back in 2005, she showed the youngsters a clean pair of heels more or less from the start.
It was another Croatian athlete who worked hard in the swim, Elisabetta Vitasović to help her teammate but the leader in the water once more was İlayda Kara. In no time at all, the two Croatians had broken free and with the faster run of Miličić, it was gold and the title. Her teammate faded on the run and was caught by Ipek Öztosun and Ece Calp to give the final two spaces on the podium to Turkey.
ETU would like to thank Zekeriya Yücetürk from Turkey for the images he provided from the Istanbul event. Thanks also to Tereza Kostlánová from the Triathlon Team Tábor for the regular updates and images from the races on Sunday.