“Tartu”. For the many athletes who raced in Kitzbühel we told you that the Estonians could put on a good show. For those of you who travelled eastwards, where the sun did not set until well past 10pm and where it rose shortly after 3am, where you were greeted by smiles wherever you went and where we had the best ever Awards Ceremony, I think you can agree that the promise was delivered.
With the Elite doing battle for the Sprint Title, with the Paras collecting medals and the Juniors not only racing for individual but also the Mixed Team Relay medals, the weekend was indeed a full one.
Racing began on the Thursday and with many Age-Group athletes already in town, the support for the Paras was impressive. It all picked up with the Parade of Nations and this year, somehow, it really came together. Each nation as led by a banner-holder and they were taken on a route that passed under the finish gantry for a quick “Team Photo” before heading to the centre of the park and the speeches.
Singing is an integral part of Estonian culture. The national anthem, sung without music echoed around the park to open the ceremony.
The Local Organising Committee had spent the last year building on the successful foundation of a series of ETU European Cup races to ensure that the 2018 ETU Tartu Triathlon European Championships would be memorable. They worked hard but also proved to be the bravest LOC we have encountered for years as they put on a welcoming dance.
With the welcome speeches given by the President of the Estonian Triathlon Federation, Margus Lepik, who later raced in the 45-49 category. He handed over the microphone to the Deputy Mayor of Tartu, Madis Lepajõe, who explained in perfect English just how dedicated the city was to delivering sporting events.
ETU President Renato Bertrandi welcomed onto stage one of the founding fathers of ETU, Krzysztof Piątkowski, who gave us all a bit of background about the identification and selection of the city for ETU races. Tartu has now entered the record books as hosts of both summer and winter ETU Championships. Declaring the Championships open, Renato Bertrandi wished everyone the very best of success.
Friday saw the junior and elite athletes race and with each event, there were thrills, spills and excitement. The Age Group athletes lined the streets and cheered loudly from start to finish. With all those hours of standing and in the scorching heat, would this impact upon their racing the next day?
Team GB was there in its usual big numbers.
Jon Cowell, the GB Team Manager later said, “Now that is how to host an event…an excellent weekend of racing!”
Austria delivered its biggest Age Group Team and Malta was there with its biggest team ever too.
Other nations filled the ranks but it was a shame that some nations were absent. Ultimately, they are the ones who lost out, because the sun was shining, the course was a true test and the city was oh so welcoming.
So, how did the racing go?
Well, a river swim is always fun. Gone is the buoyancy of the sea and with the temperature pushing away any need for a wetsuit, it was a real triathlon. The LOC, working closely with the Technical Team, led by Sarah Taylor-Hough (GBR) and Siim Vollmer (EST), made the calculations ahead of the Age Group race and, with an open-water race shortly before, they knew the flow and just how far they had to take the athletes away from the swim exit to make sure it was as close to a real 1500m as possible.
A rather nice beach awaited the athletes on the Saturday morning and with the waves of different coloured hats entering the water, with the heartbeats booming out across the river and the “FIRE!” as they set off, we managed to get a real “pro” atmosphere for all athletes.
As they entered the water, there was a sudden realisation that the flow was in fact a little stronger than they expected and it would be the experienced, or lucky swimmer, who would catch the fast water all the way to the exit.
With ETU Media poised on the exit ramp, some great photos were captured of athletes as the left the water. You can find them all on this link ……….
Fastest in the river was Austria’s Christoph Weigl. He clocked 18:23, which took him along the blue carpet in to T1 ahead of everyone else in his 20-24 Age Group. Although he did not get a medal, this was to be his best performance so far with a top ten position.
Amongst the women, it was Kristelle Congi FRA who was racing her first international triathlon. An impressive 19:30 took her into T1 over a minute ahead of any of her rivals. She then held the lead out on the bike with a powerful ride before entering T2 with a comfortable lead. The final 10k would be a chance for her to show the pace that her club, Poissy, likes so much. Crossing the finish line to take gold in her first event, she can now look forwards to the end of season Worlds and a chance once more to thank her supporters with her special helmet.
The bike course was a treat for the athletes. Sections on the road had been repaired and reports came back that the surface was near perfect. With the tough sections in town adding technical challenges, the swim had sorted out the swimmers and now it was the chance for the bikers to show their skills.
We spoke to Anita Valen NOR, six-time Norwegian National cycling champion who had also competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She was delighted with her race and buzzing with excitement in the finish area. For her the course was good but, as a top cyclist, she thought it could have been more technical. With easily the fastest time split in her category, she matched her Rotterdam performance and with her second outing for Norway as an Age-Group triathlete, looks set to continue. A top-ten finish in a tough category was her reward.
The fastest athlete on the bike course was Kris Whitelaw GBR. Having posted the fastest bike split in Lisbon and the second fastest in Düsseldorf, he matched that in Rotterdam and recently in Denmark at the Fyn World Aquabike Championships, his 3k swim and 212k bike took him to gold and the world title. No medals in Tartu but what powerful riding.
The fastest bike split amongst the women was by GB’s Alison Mackenzie. From Scotland, in fact, from East Kilbride, she is racing for the first time for Team GB and will be going home not only with the fastest bike split for all the women but also wearing the gold medal that shows her to be European Champion. Exiting the water a few spaces down, her impressive riding and closing run took her to a comfortable lead and with her Age Group delivering a clean sweep for the Brits, the celebrations on the finish line were impressive.
With the run course a none too easy one, it was, over the final 10k, a chance for the runners to show their power and skill and for many who had pushed the swim and the bike, it must have been a real torture to see those with fast legs ease past them.
The fastest female on the run course was Great Britain’s Rachel Wiseman. No stranger to the podium, with the 2017 ETU Duathlon title in her pocket and more recently, the 2018 ITU World title, the athlete from Basildon was always going to be the one to watch. A disappointing Rotterdam result was turned around here with a silver.
When we look at the fastest athletes, we see that it is the Brits who delivered both. Alison Mackenzie (30-34) crossed the finish line with a commanding 2:04:44 and Donald Brooks. With 5 starts, 5 podium places and 3 wins, he came to the race as defending ETU and ITU Champion and showed once more that he is the best.
The oldest competitor, Boris Kirilov RUS was absent from Kitzbühel but raced over the sprint distance in Düsseldorf. His impressive tally of medals and titles and his infectious enthusiasm made him a firm favourite at the Awards Ceremony. Dancing and claiming centre stage for photos, selfies and celebration, his finish time of 3:15:16 was by no means the slowest. This was his 7th European title.
Topping the medal table this year was once more Team GB. The hosts were some way back and then Germany. With medals shared amongst 13 nations, the spread was good.
The Brits dominated in seven categories.
For the Women, it was Alison Mackenzie in the 30-34 category, leading home teammate Jazmin Rogers, who adds her silver in Tartu to a Rotterdam bronze. Rounding off the podium was Rebecca Goodwin who had her best international result here.
In the next age-group, it was Leah Walland who, with bronze in Soria in 2017 and in Fyn this year, moved effortlessly back to triathlon and crossed the line with almost 2 minutes on Rachel Wiseman, who had that great swim. Bronze went to Rachel Collins.
Moving up a couple of categories to the 55-59 Age Group, it was Alex Le Bek who claimed her first gold and her first international medal with a great closing run. She had a good three minutes on Barbara Holmes, who moves up an age-group next year, to leave the much younger Le Bek in this age-group. Deborah Lloyd adds another bronze to her collection. With a podium in Spain, Austria and the Netherlands, she adds to that collection in Estonia. In the next category, the one that Barbara Holmes will move into next year, the winning time was 2:21:40.
Holmes’ time of 2:19:48 should ring alarm bells but Penny Rother, an inspiration to so many, romped home in this age-group to claim her first ETU title. Racing for the first time at a European Championship, she has notched up medals around the world but was last on the very top place in Honolulu in 2004. Jane Bell, a great supporter of ETU events, with titles won in Bratislava, Châteauroux and Cologne (and world titles in London and Vancouver) had her best result over the standard distance and put in an impressive closing run having overtaken Linda Russel-Bond on the bike.
The British Men dominated in only three categories; 18-19, 20-24 and 45-49. In the youngest category, it was Jonathan and Forbes Jackson; identical twins who crossed the line almost together. It was Jonathan who was awarded gold. The pair were neck and neck throughout the race. Isaac Hulse came home for the bronze.
In the next age group up, it was Jack Bristow who led them home. Having warmed up with a 3rd place at the British Age Group Championships, he was in the “Weigl Wave” where the Austrian had that amazing swim but once out onto the bike course, a 58:11 from Bristow gave him all he needed to go for the podium. William Grace had the fastest run in this group but was unable to catch Bristow, a graduate of history and politics from the University of Exeter and former President of their Athletics Union, where he started the campaign, ‘Come out and play’, to inspire LGBT athletes. James Briscoe had a miserable race in Kitzbühel and narrowly missed a top ten in Rotterdam. With his race preparation completed, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, let’s hear from James, “Well what a weekend!!!!!
All started with chaos in Manchester airport. Turning up over 2hrs prior to departure but due to the sheer number of people didn’t get to the plane until 10 mins before take-off. Got to Tallinn, Estonia to find my equipment had not been shipped with me. While making panicked phone calls to every man and his dog a kind Estonian (Karen) overheard our conversations. She then offered to help us and put me in touch with a friend (Karin) of hers who could loan a bike if needed.
So after many hours of stressing and not being able to prepare due to missing equipment I took up the offer. I also need to thank the team manager Jon, his support and enthusiasm. Jon managed to source a pair of cycling and running shoes. Also thanks to Oli who gave me tape and a race belt. I need to thank my wonderful family and friends for their words of support when I was not in the right frame of mind. Can’t forget to thank Alan Ward for the coaching that made me capable of adapting to such events. Last person who needs a special mention is my beautiful wife Marlee who even after the mania of this past weekend, still runs around after me carrying equipment and taking photos.
When I got to the start line I decided to just go and give it my all and whatever happens, happens. I’m more than over the moon with the result. Again thank you to all those who have helped!!!!!”
It seems that he was not the only one whose bike didn’t make it to Tartu. Reports of three athletes being lent bikes that were in the region of €10,000 each shows the great family spirit of our ETU races and in particular the incredible kindness of those Estonian athletes who were ready to share their bikes with complete strangers.
In the men’s 45-49 category, it was the final clean sweep for the Brits, with an impressive performance from a man who had been confined to a ship for the best part of a year.
Martin Jessup was poised to deliver a competent result. With a silver in Lisbon, his training was interrupted before Kitzbühel but he was able to see the bigger picture and made effective decisions to up his training on the turbo when stuck out in the Mediterranean on a ship. Any chance he had of setting direction, he would arrange for a quick jump overboard for a mid-Med training session.
With a vocal support around the course, he had a comfortable victory ahead of Peter Goodfellow who had been so close to the podium in Athlone and Pontevedra. Goodfellow’s biking took him ahead of Simon Fawcett, whose first race in the GB uniform gave him a podium place!
Whilst it was indeed a great race for the British Team, they were completely absent from two podiums.
In the men’s 35-39 and 50-54, we saw medals go to the host nation with Priit Ailt taking gold in the 35-39’s. A former Junior and Elite athlete, his best performance was as an age-grouper when he placed 6th at the 2012 Roth ETU Challenge Long Distance Triathlon European Championships. Having focussed on long distance in recent years, his strong swim took him out of the water ahead of his main rivals.
The bike being a bit on the short side for him, he had to work hard on the final run to catch and pass Marijus Butrimavicius LTU and German, Hendrik Becker who adds this bronze to the one he collected in Rotterdam. After 5th in Kitzbühel and a few set-backs, his bronze is a good reward. For a really good post-race report (in German), click here.
Peter Holbech Andersen DEN, took the title in the 50-54 category with a powerful swim and a mighty 36:27 on the run. With a bronze in Fyn in the aquathlon, he was well-placed as he entered T1. No time was wasted in transition and the bike was good enough to put him into a podium position as he started out on the 10k. His pace was too fast for anyone else and he picked off the leaders to win with a margin of over two minutes. Behind him came Estonia’s Urmas Utar. Back in 2007, he raced the ETU Championships in Copenhagen and was rewarded with a silver. His power was seen again when he collected World and European titles in Winter Triathlon in Latky Mlaky, Jämijärvi, the 2013 Tartu Winter Championships and back to back wins in Otepää in 2016 and 2017. It was Hungary’s Dr Róbert Czigány who rounded off the podium.
Gold went also to the Czech Republic’s Lenka Fanturová. A former elite athlete, she comes back to racing with her own support team who seemed to be everywhere, cheering on the course.
As mentioned earlier, we were honoured by the presence of Boris Kirilov. The biggest cheers of the evening were indeed for him and for Great Britain’s Peggy Crome.
Born in 1943 and a maths teacher by trade, she has been part of triathlon for many years now and has collected 9 golds on her swim, bike, run journey. Climbing onto the podium, she looked out to the hundreds of athletes, tri-families, friends and supporters, raised her arms and smiled.
The Championships in Tartu were a success. A long journey for some but worth every mile, or kilometre. For the Age Group athletes favouring the Standard Distance, the LOC gave them a true course to test their skills on and with the non-wetsuit swim, the exciting bike and run courses, the medal winners this year are true champions.
The medals table looks like this:
Our focus moves naturally to Glasgow, where our Age-Group athletes will fill Strathclyde Park and race the Sprint Distance on the Saturday just before the Elite Mixed Relay.
It will be great to see if any athletes are racing both Tartu and Glasgow. Good luck to you. Thank you Tartu, see you again.
Tänan Eesti ja jällenägemiseni!
Related Event: 2018 Tartu ETU Triathlon European Championships
|Results: Elite Men|
|2.||Uxio Abuin Ares||ESP||00:53:18|
|3.||Roberto Sanchez Mantecon||ESP||00:53:19|
|Results: Elite Women|
|9.||Marta Sanchez Hernandez||ESP||00:59:43|
|Results: Junior Men|
|1.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||00:53:59|
|Results: Junior Women|
|Results: Mixed Junior Relay|
|1.||Team I Portugal||POR||01:18:24|
|2.||Team I Germany||GER||01:18:32|
|3.||Team I France||FRA||01:18:40|
|4.||Team I Russia||RUS||01:18:45|
|5.||Team I Hungary||HUN||01:18:46|
|6.||Team I Great Britain||GBR||01:18:47|
|7.||Team I Switzerland||SUI||01:18:59|
|8.||Team I Austria||AUT||01:19:15|
|9.||Team I Italy||ITA||01:19:36|
|10.||Team I Spain||ESP||01:20:24|
|Results: PTWC Men|
|1.||Geert Schipper H2||NED||01:03:11|
|2.||Joseph Townsend H2||GBR||01:04:27|
|3.||Giovanni Achenza H2||ITA||01:04:54|
|4.||Alexandre Paviza H1||FRA||01:05:40|
|5.||Florian Brungraber H2||AUT||01:06:01|
|6.||Ahmed Andaloussi H1||FRA||01:08:37|
|7.||Benjamin Lenatz H1||GER||01:09:26|
|8.||Jose Manuel Quintero Macias H1||ESP||01:18:40|
|DNS.||José Vicente Arzo Diago H2||ESP||DNS|