The Baltic - hidden gem of Europe. Riga ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup

By Paul Groves | 12 Aug, 2014

Golden day for Italy and Switzerland

This weekend was a busy one for European Triathlon. Whilst some opted for the fast and furious event in Tizzy, others headed north to the Baltic States and to the 2014 Riga ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup. With wonderful weather and a strong field and with technical officials from a variety of countries making sure the event was fair and safe; the Latvian Triathlon Federation would be pleased to see such big crowds out to support the city centre race.

In the women’s race powerful swimmers took control on the one-lap 750m course. First out of the water was Giulia SFORZA (ITA) with Angelina BORODINA (BLR) who had previously shown her swim strength when she led everyone out of the water in Dinpropetrovsk. Just behind them were two athletes from Italy. Angelica OLMO, inspired by her silver in Geneva, was one of them.  A long run from swim exit through to transition was where some advantage could be made and Vicky Van Der MERWE (ZAF) was quick on both T1 and T2.

The bike course was four laps and pretty technical. Van Der Merwe made up time here, putting her into a good position for the run but still with time to make up on the leaders. Olmo was comfortably placed and with a 2-lap out and back course she could see where any threat might come from. Her position and strength meant that she would ultimately take gold. “The race was very beautiful!! I loved the place and all the organization!!! The location was perfect and the city is very, very nice!! It's my first European cup victory and it was a fantastic experience for me!! No, it isn't so easy. You never know what will happen!!! On the bike there wasn't really a good job in the second part, but the rest was good!! I knew that I had the victory when I take a little advantage to the South African girl in the second lap.”

Van Der Merwe came in a few seconds adrift to take silver and thereby improving on her previous podium at the Le Morne ATU Sprint Triathlon African Cup. It was Irina ABYSOVA (RUS) who would take bronze once again this year. Her previous bronze came in Tartu less than a month ago. “It was a very good race with a great organization. All it was nice (weather, bike course, people). Riga is so beautiful! I'm so happy that I came to this event!”

In the men’s race the start line was filled with 67 determined athletes. Some had raced the weekend before in Istanbul. Many knew the strengths and weaknesses of those standing next to them.  Could Félix DUCHAMPT (FRA), winner from the Istanbul event last week, make it a back to back double? Would Ron DARMON (ISR) improve on his Turkish bronze? Would the strong swimmers take advantage over this sprint distance?

With all these questions the men took to the start line for one of the most spectacular starts we have had on the Sprint series this year. Darmon and Patrick RHYNER (SUI) chose to take a start position to the far right of the start but it was Jørgen GUNDERSEN (NOR) who led out onto the long run to T1. Slower in the water but making up time on the run to T1 were the two ISR athletes Darmon and Amital YONAH. Duchampt accompanied them and once out onto the bike two main packs formed. Rhyner held his position well. Fast transitions and very fast running from the two ISR athletes took them into a place they could fight for the podium. Darmon was in the chase pack, “The course was amazing and technical which made the swim and the bike very fast, Unfortunately I missed the breakaway and had to work in the chase group. I was happy again with my run but Patrick and Amitai had the better legs in the last 1km so I'm happy I held on to 3rd.”

The stronger Rhyner took gold with Yonah only 4 seconds adrift. His countryman Darmon took bronze to match his medal from last week. Duchampt fought to take 4th place but simply did not have the pace to catch Darmon.

For Rhyner, “I had a great day and benefitted from the altitude training I had undertaken. I was in Davos until Thursday training with the Swiss National Team and I have to say I was a little tired in the swim. Coming out in 20th and then ended up in the chase group on the bike. After half a lap I decided to try and catch the leaders and, all alone, I managed that before the first lap had been completed. In the run I simply let go and found I was leading. After 2,5k I had company of three other athletes but hitting 4k I upped the pace again and kept the lead to the finish. The organisation was very good indeed. The public were so friendly and helpful. This was my first trip to Latvia. I loved it !”

Latvia has delivered a great event. That Baltic States continue to deliver great events to the ETU calendar and with the ease of travel there and value for money accommodation this is an area in the region we look to for further development in our sport.

Here is the event video to give you just a taster of things to come. Children, Youth Age Groups and Elite. A triathlon festival !

Many thanks to the ETU Technical Delegate, Kitty van Bloois and to the Latvian Triathlon Federation’s photographer, Evita Priedīte for the images.

Related Event: 2014 Riga ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup
10 Aug, 2014 • event page
Results: Elite Men
1. Patrick Rhyner SUI 00:53:31
2. Amitai Yonah ISR 00:53:35
3. Ron Darmon ISR 00:53:37
4. Felix Duchampt FRA 00:53:47
5. László Tarnai HUN 00:53:51
6. Ognjen Stojanovic SRB 00:53:59
7. Gustav Iden NOR 00:54:04
8. Massimo De Ponti ITA 00:54:07
9. Gregory Barnaby ITA 00:54:11
10. Daniel Hofer ITA 00:54:15
Results: Elite Women
1. Angelica Olmo ITA 01:01:04
2. Vicky Van Der Merwe RSA 01:01:16
3. Irina Abysova RUS 01:01:38
4. Fanny Beisaron ISR 01:01:47
5. Daria Pletikapa CRO 01:01:51
6. Sara Dossena ITA 01:01:59
7. Giulia Sforza ITA 01:02:09
8. Olga Dmitrieva RUS 01:02:55
9. Francesca Stafford NZL 01:03:02
10. Veronica Signorini ITA 01:03:04