By David Peddie on 01/06/11 at 10:31 am
A glorious day in Brasschaat, with the Belgian town bathed in sunshine, saw a South African upset the European athletes with victory in the Men’s Elite and last year’s top ranked Female return to European action in style.
Richard Murray’s (RSA) spectacular final run segment saw him pip the French athletes, who continue to dominate the European podiums in the early part of the season.
Radka Vodickova (CZE) has spent the early part of the season competing in ITU events in Asia but opened her European account with a brave second place behind the exciting Rebecca Robisch (GER), who improved on her second place in Quarteira with victory here.
Brasschaat was bathed in sunshine all weekend and the residents of this municipality showed athletes from all over the world why they won the LivCom-Award in 2006 for the most liveable municipality in the world. The age group athletes started the day off in what was to be a truly amazing multi-sport spectacular. They were to be followed by the novices starting their journey in the world of triathlon.
Men’s Elite Review
The 1500m swim course was set in the spectacular water skiing lake and at a water temperature of 18°C, wetsuits were required. There were two laps of the swim course and in the early stages the men all swam in one major group. As the athlete’s ploughed their way through the water, timing chips were lost as well as goggles. The pace didn’t let up from the start and the spectators were treated to a speedy and energetic exit and entry back into the water for the final lap.
First out of water was Brems (BEL), with Varga (SVK) hot on his heels. The two French athletes Le Corre and Luis closely followed with Naranjo (ESP), Zachaues (GER), Salvisberg (SUI), Pujades (FRA), Zimmer (GER), Unger (GER) and Maeder (AUS) hunting down the leading athletes and in contention.
A blistering T1 saw Le Corre take the lead ahead of Brems and Varga as the pack formed behind. Geerts (BEL) had an early spill leading towards the city centre where the athletes had five fast laps in front of appreciative crowds.
A huge chase pack formed and worked hard to try and catch up the leaders who in turn were working hard to maintain their advantage. Brems and Maeder dropped behind as the lead pack kept up the pressure but the fast-moving peloton was getting closer and closer.
When they entered T2 the advantage had been reduced to only a matter of seconds. Diemunsch (FRA) had set a blistering pace, with Severin (NLD), who was returning after a forced lay off and some work on his foot, were first into T2. Diemunsch was in his running shoes in a flash and chasing after the leading pack. Severin got caught up in the melee of the huge pack and was forced to find his way through bikes and other athletes before he could leave the T2 carpet.
Amongst this massive throng of athletes was South African Murray. Unfortunately for him, a thrown helmet landed him with a 15 second penalty. Other penalties awaited the athletes from T1 misdemeanours and their 15 seconds would have to be served just outside T2 at a point they would pass four times on the 10k flat run.
Amongst the names was that of Diemunsch who was adjudged to have thrown his goggles in T1. These penalties are not given just to make life awkward but to prevent slip-trip injuries as the athletes charge through transition.
Murray served his penalty early on and watched the athletes stream past in those long 15 seconds. Diemunsch was making impressive headway on the leaders with a really determined run. At the front of the pack, Unger nearly fell after catching his foot against the edge of one of the corners on the run and he had to dig deep to continue in the race.
Meanwhile, at the front, Luis had pulled away from Salvisberg and Le Corre. Behind them, Naranjo and Unger, now clearly in pain, and a fast moving Harris (GBR) who was having a dream race. Behind them all was the impressive Diemunsch. He was flying round the course, as was the South African Murray, but surely there was too much ground to make up on the leaders?
The last lap saw Diemunsch having a battle royal with Leckie (GBR), Kerr (AUS), Banti (MON) and Hofer (ITA) but the penalty box had his name on it and failing to stop for the penalty would mean a DQ.
Unbelievably, Murray used the last lap to pull out all the stops and in a remarkable turnaround he crossed the line in 1:44:22 to win the race with a comfortable lead over Le Corre. Luis did just enough to nip ahead of Salvisberg for third place. Full credit must go to the German Unger, who hobbled across the finish line in 5th place, showing an impressive swollen ankle. How he managed to walk, let alone run is a mystery – true grit and determination.
Women’s Elite Review
Unlike the men, the women decided that the lake was big enough to spread out. Clearly unaffected by the local myths of the 31kg fish that was lurking in the lake.
The early pace was set by Routier (ESP) and Vodickova (CZE) with Jackson (AUS) and Avil (GBR) in close contention. Last year’s European Ranking No.1 Vodickova had a clear lead to T1 with Routier just a few seconds behind. Avil and Chmet (ITA) came in next with De Vries (NLD) followed by Morel (FRA) and Robisch (GER).
Robisch had to struggle with her wetsuit in T1 and saw her fellow leaders disappear but she would show everyone how strong she is on the bike to catch up to the lead group. Robisch controlled the twisting and turning section cycle route that leads to the city with ease and it was inevitable that she would catch up.
The two Portuguese athletes Moniz and Areosa, along with Routier, were working well together over the shortened bike course and were able to create a bit of daylight between them and the chasing pack. This pack included Bonin (ITA), Morel, Simic (SLO) and Bauer (GER) who themselves were maintaining a small lead over Avil, Robisch, Fladung (GER) and Chmet. Once again the crowds of Brasschaat filled the streets as the athletes raced over the very technical but pretty flat course.
The first athletes into T2 were Simic and Robisch, closely followed by Bauer. Vodickova was looking dangerous and after another fine display of transition technique the pack fragmented into the 10k run.
A further minute behind came the next group desperately trying to cling to the leaders. Amongst them was Sanders (RSA) and we were beginning to wonder if she had the same pace as her countryman who had stolen victory from the predominantly European field of men.
The race was on. Simic, Robisch and Vodickova took command and their pace suggested that the medals would be shared amongst them but no-one quite knew who would get what colour. Behind them Fladung, Areosa, Bauer, Chmet and De Vries were fighting for points and prize-money while Sanders was scorching a path through the field. She was, like her countryman Murray in the Mens race, to post the fastest run split.
Into the last 400m and it was Robisch who made her break and left the other two in her tracks. The German crossed the line in 1:58:37 to take the gold medal. Vodickova came home in 2nd and Simic ultimately had to settle for third place.
During the awards ceremony the sun continued to shine as did the smiles from competitors and spectators alike at the end of a marvellous day’s racing.
The town of Brasschaat has been holding triathlons for 29 years now – this race, this location, the beautiful castle and the tremendous support of the spectators is one that will not be forgotten.
Zwevegem Junior European Cup
On the same day, just over an hour away from Brasschaat, the Junior European Cup series continued in Zwevegem.
In the Junior Mens race, young Czech athlete Lukas Kocar took home the gold medal ahead of a host of Benelux athletes who enjoyed the local support. Kocar, who finished third last week in Brno, came home in 59:14. Marten Van Riel (BEL) finished second and Bob Haller (LUX) completed the podium.
In the Womens race, Alessia Orla (ITA) upset local favourite Charlotte Deldaele. Orla finished in 1:07:41 and enjoyed a comfortable lead over Deldaele. Third place went to Ilona Eversdijk (NED).
|2.||Pierre Le Corre||FRA||01:44:39|
|7.||Jorge Naranjo Vichot||ESP||01:45:01|
|4.||Sarissa De Vries||NED||01:59:25|
Find more details about this event - 2011 Brasschaat ITU Triathlon Premium European Cup