By Paul Groves on 30/03/17 at 5:40 pm
Traditionally our athletes have started their summer racing series in Portugal but with the addition of the Gran Canaria, Las Palmas event, that kicked off the season last week, we will now instead see athletes coming to the beautiful southern tip of Portugal not only race fit but fully focussed after the tough event last week.
A double-header awaits us; with Junior and Elite races.
What is special about Quarteira?
Well, the wonderful sea that makes it essential for the athletes to be able to cope with challenging waves.
There is the palm-lined transition area
Then the bike course. It really is a spectacular course with the massive climb, tricky descent and many, many chances for a breakaway for athletes at the front of the pack. The run; a flat out and back course, will give all athletes the chance to watch their position in the race and it will be here that they will have to dig deep to either maintain their lead or to avoid being dropped.
The hospitality in the town is well-know and athletes return each year knowing that the welcome will be warm, the support around the course will be strong and that the event delivery will be top class. The host hotel, the Dom Jose, is right on the road where transition is situated, perfect for everyone.
So, who will we be watching out for in 2017? The Elite race on Saturday and then stay to support the juniors, who race the Sunday.
Amongst the Juniors we have 46 women and 75 men. 19 nationalities (including athletes from Costa Rica and Kazakhstan) will do battle for medals, points and glory.
With #1 on the start list, from Israel, comes Gal Rubanenko. Current Israeli national junior champion, a title she has held now since 2015, she had a solid season in 2016. Her races in Portugal, Austria and Hungary showed consistent form but she will have to work hard this weekend to secure a top-ten place. The Dutch have traditionally given great support to their athletes as they progress through junior, U23 and elite rankings. Orange flags and cheers will be supporting their highest ranked junior woman, Rani Škrabanja. With two top-ten finishes last year, one in Melilla and one in Holten, she will be confident going into this race of a good result. Watch out as well for Rianne de Croock who won silver in Riga last year and had a strong race in Burgas.
Ukraine has brought a large team of athletes to the event. Strongest amongst the women is the multi-talented Sofiya Pryyma. Current Junior Cross Duathlon champion, she took silver in Tulcea and placed in the top ten in Bled. She closed the 2016 season in Tongyeong, with a 1:04:54, racing amongst the Elite Women over the sprint distance. A victory in Melilla last year for Italy’s Carlotta Missaglia saw her continue with a series of strong performances. Italian hopes will be focussed upon her. France will be looking very carefully at the young Jessica Fullagar. In her two international races last year she won silver and placed fifth. The host nation will be supporting its athletes all around the course but their hopes must rest with Gabriela Ribeiro, who was close to the podium here last year and then worked hard in the Tiszaújváros Festival.
The men’s race will be a fast and frantic one with so many determined young men wanting to impress. A look down the start list and we can see that the racing will be determined and exciting. A look at the names and what do we see? Famous names such as Heldoorn and Polikarpenko.
Yes, the fathers have passed down to their sons the racing mantle and from the Netherlands, Niek Heldoorn will be continuing the family tradition of racing, perhaps of getting onto the podium. He will be against Italy’s Sergiy Polikarpenko, winner in Zagreb last year and son of the great Ukrainian athlete who has for many years now, lived in Italy.
At the front end of the race we can expect to see Portugal’s Vasco Vilaça. He is here to defend his 2016 title and also to show that with wins in Burgas and Tiszaújváros, he is the man to beat. Against him will be racing the two Spaniards, Javier Lluch Pérez and Alberto González García. On paper Vilaça has the edge but with González’s duathlon pace, the final run could be quite exciting. Maintaining his form over the winter, Estonia’s Henry Räppo had a good season in 2016, with a win in Kupiškis and a silver in Valga. If he can get into a good group on the bike, he will be in with a chance for the final run.
Austria’s juniors did very well in 2016 and Philip Pertl will be hoping his silver in Tulcea was not a “one off” result. With Sam Laidlow FRA, who won the L’Aiguillon sur Mer event, there is strength and depth to the start list that suggests from the very moment the horn sounds, the athletes will be racing to the max.
For the full start list for the Junior Men, please click this link.
Sunday, April 2nd
07:30 - 12:00 Race Office - Hotel Dom José
07:45 – 8:30 Athletes Lounge Open (Women and Men)
07:45 – 8:30 Transition Area Open (Women and Men)
07:45 – 8:30 Warm Up (Women)
08:45 Women Junior Start
09:25 – 9:45 Warm Up (Men)
10:00 Men Junior Start
11:15 Medal Ceremony
The Saturday races will feature the Elite athletes.
Prize-money is available as well as the all-important points that will count towards the end of season final in Melilla. Athletes can begin to collect their points now and the best four scores, plus points from the Final race and to be in with a chance for the bumper pay-out, they must race on Melilla.
Prize money distribution for Elite men and women:
1st. 1,565 EUR
2nd. 1,250 EUR
3rd. 940 EUR
4th. 625 EUR
5th. 500 EUR
6th. 435 EUR
7th. 375 EUR
8th. 250 EUR
9th. 185 EUR
10th. 125 EUR
We can expect to see some truly exciting racing as the athletes exiting the seas try to maintain any lead and to build upon it before the run. The British powerhouse of Lucy Hall and Jessica Learmonth who provided a masterclass in swim/bike domination last year are not racing this weekend. Learmonth being absent and not defending her title rather throws the race open. But instead we have a real treat in store for you.
The return to international triathlon racing of the most successful Portuguese athlete, Vanessa Fernandes. Interviewed recently, she said, "There was always something inside of me asking 'should I try again?' I couldn’t get triathlon out of my head. Even when I was focussed on athletics or the marathon, I felt there was still something I had to do. The passion I have for triathlon hasn’t left me yet." She will be wearing #40 but don’t let this low number suggest she is not prepared for this race. Whilst away from our sport she posted spectacular times over the marathon distance and has, under the coaching of Lino Barruncho, been working hard to ensure that her return to swim, bike and run, will be perfectly-managed. Her racing history is truly impressive. With 74 starts she made the podium on 48 occasions, winning gold 38 times. The last time we saw her race was in Mexico in 2011. A DNF was recorded but with World and European titles behind her, she entered the record books. Just click on the hyperlink to see her racing history.With all eyes on her and with the crowds very definitely cheering her on, the other women will have to perform well.
Wearing #1 is the current Russian champion, Anastasia Abrosimova. Her silver medal in Cozumel at the World Aquathlon Championships reminds of her swim and running strength but she will have to face some powerful cyclists who will be seeking to monopolize on the 40k course, with that huge hill. Estonia’s star athlete has benefitted from the ETU and ITU development camps and ended 2016 on a high with fifth place in the U23 Worlds in Cozumel. Kaidi Kivioja wears #2. She will meet Portugal’s U23 athlete, Melanie Santos, who placed 8th in Cozumel. On home ground and with the crowd support ringing in her ears, this could be the race where she beats the Estonian but she will need to really find something on the bike, as Kivioja has greater power there. Another U23 athlete joining the Elite ranks for this race, is Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell. Coldwell has the edge on the run over Santos but not against Kivioja when we look at previous results but Coldwell’s greater swim pace could put her into a leading pack on the bike. Ahead of both of them in Cozumel at that U23 final was Sandra Dodet FRA. If she can work with teammate Margot Garabedian, who had a great race earlier this year in Cape Town, then the French supporters will be delighted. Just missing out on a top ten place last week in Gran Canaria and hoping surely to improve, is Spain’s Anna Godoy Contreras. Having tried out for France, Mexico-born Michelle Flipo in now back under the ITU flag. Aside from her European Cross Triathlon title last year and a bronze in Weert, she did not get the times she would have wanted. 2017; a new year and she will be hoping to use her bike power to secure a good result.
A race that is up for grabs.
Amongst the men, there are so many who can take the title but to do so, you must always, when Aurélien Raphaël FRA is there, get in the queue. He has won this race three times, placed second once and third once. His first two attempts here were unremarkable but since 2012 he has been on the podium. Anyone expecting an easy race? Well, that will not happen here. Although not wearing #1, he is the favourite for this race but will have to dig deep to keep ahead of home favourite Joao Pereira. With a top ten finish in Abu Dhabi and fifth place in Rio, he is on form and will present a real threat to the Frenchman’s run of podium appearances in Quarteira.
He’s back! Spain’s former ETU Ranking Series winner, Uxío Abuín Ares tested his level of fitness last weekend in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and came away with a good bronze. His end of season races, in the autumn of 2016, delivered golds in Tongyeong, Miyazaki, Agadir and Dakhla. This race will be a true test of his fitness and will make the rest of the series exciting as he has made it clear he wants to focus this year on the final race of the season in Melilla. We have seen some great results in the past from Frenchman Dorian Coninx. In fact, he won this race in 2015 but his end of season performances in 2016 we pretty bad and he will really want to put those ghosts to bed. Alongside Raphaël and working perhaps with Abuín and Pereira, this could be the group that breaks away on the bike to dominate the race.
This is a course where power on the bike can thin out the field by catching tail-end athletes. Great Britain’s Grant Sheldon suffered this at his last race and will surely be making every effort to stay at the front end of the swim and to catch an early pack as they leave T1. He has shown us, in Cape Town, that he can deliver a good race when he mixes and matches with the older athletes and as 2016 World University champion he knows that he can win. Spain’s David Castro Fajardo was also lapped in Abu Dhabi but when he has a good race, it really is good. As current ETU U23 champion and with an end of season victory in Salinas, he too will be using this race for a test on his fitness. From France’s northern neighbours comes Simon de Cuyper BEL. His 2016 season had its ups and downs. The most spectacular down was when he tripped in Holten as he entered the final 100m as he led the race. He still finished in 4th and made for the disappointment with a 3rd in Tartu and a victory in Altafulla. Arriving here from Gran Canaria and with a 5th place behind him, comes the Netherlands’ Marco van der Stel. Top 20 finishes in Cape Town and Abu Dhabi could be translated here into a top ten place.
The Russians are coming. This week both Andrey and Alexander Bryukhankov will be racing. It may well be that at this race, the younger brother, Andrey will have the advantage after a DNF for Alexander last week. Joining them fresh from a winter training camp comes Ukraine’s Olympian Ivan Ivanov.
These highly experienced athletes face the challenge of some younger athletes. Amongst these and showing good form after a none too satisfying, back-injury laden 2016, is Gordon Benson, Britain’s European Games Champion. His top-ten finish last week showed that his swimming and biking is back on line. With some work on the run, he can be dangerous out there. Marc Austin’s top ten finish in Cape Town came after a great swim and bike. Weert’s men’s winner in 2016 was Frenchman Tom Richard. He closed the season with a 5th place in the U23 Grand Final. He is one of the many younger French athletes coming through and hopes for a good result are high.
For the full start list for the Elite Men, please click this link.
Saturday, April 1st
09:00 - 12:00 Race Office Hotel Dom José
12:15 – 13:15 Athletes Lounge Open (Women)
12:45 – 13:30 Transition Area Open (Women)
12:45 – 13:30 Warm Up (Women)
13:45 Women Elite Start
15:00 – 16:00 Athletes Lounge Open (Men)
15:30 – 16:15 Transition Area Open (Men)
15:30 – 16:15 Warm Up (Men)
16:30 Men Elite Start
18:40 Medal Ceremony
We hope to bring you the rankings as soon as they have been calculated and for 2017, wewill keep you up to date with the rankings as we head towards our end of season Cup Final in Melilla.
The LOC are providing a full schedule of open races, so once again, Age Group athletes have the chance to race on the same circuit as the Elite and Juniors. Check the event website for details.
Find more details about this event - 2017 Quarteira ETU Triathlon European Cup