The Asiago World Championships was only a short time ago and it is wonderful to see so many world-class athletes racing here for the European titles.
Tucked away above Dracula’s castle, is the world-class biathlon centre at Cheile Grădiştei. A 1300m high venue, with testing courses, cold temperatures and fresh snow falling all day on Friday.
With course familiarisations taking place during the day and the Elite Athlete Briefings in the evening, the venue was not quite complete. We were missing some of the Russian team whose flight had been cancelled on Thursday and who, fingers crossed, will arrive here at about 03:30 tomorrow morning!
The TV Company who will be broadcasting live had a small army out on the course, laying cables and checking camera angles.
So, amongst this stellar line-up of athletes, who might we expect to see crossing the finish-line first?
Amongst the women, there will once again be a great battle between the newly-crowned World Champion, Daria Rogozina and Yulia Surikova. They fought hard in Asiago but Rogozina was just too strong on the final part of the race and took not only the Elite but also U23 World title. Finishing strong and showing real power on the short-course relays, was Austria’s Romana Slavinec, former World U23 Champion and twice now bronze medal winner at the Worlds. Italy’s Sandra Mairhofer and Edith Vakaria will ensure the pressure is kept high, especially with the home crowds cheering on Vakaria, who won bronze here last year in the U23 category.
For the men, we can expect to see a thrilling race with the 7 times World Champion and 6 times European Champion, Pavel Andreev RUS going head to head against his main rivals Dmitriy Bregeda, Pavel Yakimov and Daniel Antonioli ITA. A recent victory in an incredibly tight race at the Italian Championships, saw Giuseppe Lamastra take the title but then to lose out badly to Antonioli in Asiago. We can expect to see some really intense racing out there in the tough conditions. A powerhouse on skis, knowing the course well and with the home crowds cheering him on, watch out for Viorel Palici ROU. He posted the second fastest ski split in Asiago.
In the U23 Category, we also have Rogozina’s teammate, Nadezhda Belkina. As defending European champion, she will have to dig deep if she is to successfully defend her title. In Asiago, over the longer distance, she was some five minutes behind Rogozina. Austria’s Anna Swoboda was unable to start in Asiago and will surely want to perform well here and get onto the podium. Racing on the summer circuit, racing cross events and also on snow, Lýdia Drahovská SVK, narrowly missed the podium here last year when racing as a junior.
The defending champion, Alessandro Saravalle ITA will be up against Kiril Tarakanov. Saravalle beat Tarakanov by less than 30 seconds and over the shorter course here, this could prove to be his chance for revenge.
For the juniors, the defending champion is not here and so the crown will be up for grabs, with a chance of it going to either Slovakia, Russia or the host nation, Romania. Runner up in Asiago, behind an Italian athlete who is not racing here, was Slovakia’s Zuzana Michaličková. Her teammate, Margareta Bicanová, who will have to work hard to keep ahead of Romania’s Evelin Vivien Laczko, who put a superb effort into helping her team into the silver medal position in the Mixed Relays in Asiago.
The reigning world champion, Simone Avondetto ITA will be here to claim the second crown. His performance in Asiago was a stand-out one that will take some beating. Space on the podium will be there for Romania’s Leonard Stefan Hincu.
With the weather creating havoc and even the local wolves taking cover in the trees, we will all be out very early in the morning to re-build the transition and finish areas.
Related Event: 2019 Cheile Gradistei ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: Elite Women|
|Results: U23 Men|
|Results: Junior Men|
|2.||Leonord Stefan Hincu||ROU||01:28:08|