Breaking News: Fresh water tests have been conducted, with the results now confirming that the swim in Malmö will indeed be taking place.
ETU looks forwards to three races this weekend; In Malmö there is the test event for the 2020 ETU Sprint Triathlon Championships (Non-drafting for AG), in Tábor we have a Junior European Cup and in Istanbul we have the Balkan Championships.
With almost 250 elite and junior athletes racing this weekend we are going to get some really exciting photos and stories.
Top of the list, as it will be a main focus for 2020, will be Malmö. This race, now in its third year, has attracted more and more interest and the organisers are expecting about 1,000 athletes to enjoy the hospitality of the city. Hosting the final of the Swedish Triathlon Cup, a series of four races that began in June, the main show will of course be the ETU European Cup.
We heard this morning that due to the Water Quality Tests returning an adverse reading for E-coli and always focussing on the health and safety of the athletes, the Technical Delegate, Esther Sánchez Arribas has referred these readings to ITU’s Crisis Advisory Group. The decision has been made therefore to cancel the swim familiarization to cancel the swim on race day. This will activate the contingency plan to change the race to a Duathlon in the current circumstances.
Sad but without any hesitation, the health and safety of our athletes cannot be compromised. So, no swim and reduced points but nevertheless, with over 70 men and almost 50 women, a race not to be missed.
Changing the format to a run-bike-run race will favour some of the stronger runners. So who might we be expecting to see on the podium?
In the women’s race 19 nationalities will be vying for the podium, cash prizes and points but they will have done their research and, coming to line up for the opening run, will be very much aware of Germany’s Lisa Tertsch. From her silver medal as a junior in Cozumel at the Grand Final, she has focussed on her training and, returning to the international circuit in 2019, has won in Dnipro, Antwerp and Holten. In the World Cup race, she came out of the water a full 30 seconds down but then posted the fastest run by 20 seconds. A similar set of stats came from Holten in the Premium European Cup. Anyone thinking that they can run with her on the first 5k will be committing themselves to a heart-rate rich experience. Marta Łagownik POL, will welcome the option to stride out at the start of the race and with teammates, Alicja Ulatowska and two-times Olympian, Maria Cześnik, the Poles could be collecting some valuable points this weekend.
Kate Waugh GBR last raced in Astana, when the event was changed to a duathlon and posted a fine performance over the standard distance, claiming a hotly-contested bronze ahead of some strong athletes. With her duathlon credentials established, she may be the encouragement needed for Zoe Thomas to gamble on the first run and to then use her biking power to pull them along. Add to this mix, Sophie Alden who made that fantastic breakaway with Olivia Matthias in Olsztyn and the Brits could well come away with medals. If she has recovered from her outstanding race in Kazan, Spain’s Tamara Gómez Garrido pace will lift the race. The host nation’s reigning champion and runner-up are both racing. This could be interesting. Emma Varga and Marie Carlsson will get the support of the local crowds.
Amongst the men, from 25 nations, Sweden’s own Gabriel Sandör, after his incredible silver in Antwerp, will be attracting a lot of attention. His race in the World Cup was one of those “so near, yet so far” moments. His closing run took him so close to gold and now, in Malmö, he will be confident of a podium place. He will face a tough challenge from two green uniforms; Con Doherty ran strong in Kazan last weekend to come home with a top ten finish but his pace next to Callum McClusky’s AUS will need some focus. The Aussie has a good record of racing in Europe and in his epic battle for gold in Dnipro, he had the faster closing sprint finish. Alexandre Nobre POR narrowly missed out on a top five finish but his closing run impressed many. His teammate, Vasco Vilaça also showed great pace in Edmonton recently. This pairing could well deliver them into a strong position for the final run. There are some strong younger athletes on the start list. Watch out for Frenchman Paul Georgenthum who outran everyone in Weert to take the ETU Junior title only recently.
Down in the Czech Republic and the Tábor Triathlon Festival 2019, one of the oldest triathlon events in Europe, will celebrate its 36th year. From long distance down to sprint distance, the city has offered athletes the chance to race.
Not a business but instead a triathlon club, the organisers have their feet on the ground and know what to deliver to keep their athletes happy. A small team of 140 volunteers will be there to support the event and make sure that the welcome is a warm one for over 100 junior athletes from all over the world as well as for their own Czech athletes, who will race the Czech Sprint Championships.
In the women’s race, 19 nations will be represented, with three coming from outside Europe. Slovenia’s Tjaša Vrtačič has podium appearances in both her last two races. A victory in the 2018 Balkan Championships in Ohrid and on the same course this year, a bronze. She will face stiff competition from home-favourite, Alžběta Hrušková who had a solid victory in the ETU Indoor Cup in Liévin at the start of the season. More at home on snow and off-road, the Slovakian duo of Zuzana Michaličková and Margaréta Bičanová are certainly ones to watch. Having claimed the top place in the Cheile Grădiştei ETU Winter Triathlon Championships and then the top two places in both the cross triathlon and cross duathlon in Târgu Mureș. With that sort of power behind them and with a good swim, then the race will be thrilling down to the line.
Spain’s Laura Durán Morote has raced consistently this year, with a bronze in Melilla and then one in Pontevedra for the duathlon. Strong off the bike, she will need to put the ghosts of Weert behind her and find a strong swimmer to tuck in behind, if she is to get to the podium. Wearing #2 will be Youth Olympian, Brea Roderick NZL. The podium has seen Kiwis there before, with Hannah Knighton taking the win there with an incredibly fast closing run.
The Men’s race will see 15 nations race on the start line, two from outside Europe. Spain’s Sergio Baxter Cabrera could well be the man to win. He has had a solid racing season, with a win in Pontevedra that gave him the World Junior Duathlon title, followed by a silver in Olsztyn and a near miss in 4th place in Weert. Russia’s Daniil Kondrashov just lost out on the run there and we can expect the pair to be close in this race. The host nation will be focussing its attention upon Radim Grebík who wears #1.
Our final race of the weekend will be the Balkan Championships. Attracting fewer points, there is nevertheless the chance to move up the rankings as the race is open to all nations and indeed we will see Russian and Iranian athletes on the start line.
For the women, it will be a chance for the two Turkish athletes, Ece Calp and Ipek Öztosun to go head to head once more. Katerina Saperi has had a good Age-Group season, with a World bronze and European gold in the Aquabike. Chopping the distance down to sprint will be a big ask but she is strong in the water and has the power to make a small bike pack move fast.
The Men’s race will see Russia’s Viacheslav Vasiliev wearing #1. He will notice Turkey’s Gültigin Er just ahead of him in the swim but will out-ride him and possibly rely upon the younger Luka Grgorinić for some more speed out on the bike course.
Once these three races are over, it will be an ideal opportunity to check the ETU Rankings to see how the Elite, U23 and Junior athletes (and their National Federations) have moved up, or down the rankings table.
We are advised that there are no live feeds for these races. For updates, please like and follow us on the ETU Facebook and ETU Instagram pages, where we hope to provide images and videos sent to us by those present at the events.