By Paul Groves on 07/06/17 at 12:28 pm
Denmark and Weert become the focus this weekend
A busy weekend is a head of us. With the WTS machine moving to Leeds for the select few, we have European Championships in Denmark and a European Cup in the Netherlands.
Our fingers are crossed for the weather this weekend, with Denmark not looking so good and with Weert perhaps just avoiding the rain. Middle Distance racing in the rain will be a tough one and with the battle for prize-money, titles and medals at the 2017 Herning ETU Garmin Challenge Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships, every athlete there will deserve full respect for covering the half distance.
ETU and Challenge have been working together to deliver a truly value for money, honest racing experience. 2017 will see our Elite athletes lead out on the course with the Age Group athletes behind them, racing to defend their titles and perhaps for some, to burst upon the international scene with a massive performance that will give them gold.
This year, a major success with a title sponsor raises the profile of the event significantly. Erik Mønster, CEO at Challenge Denmark, with responsibility for not only Herning but also for the September event in Fredericia, is both happy and proud of the new agreement. “Garmin is one of the big players in the sports industry, and the fact that we’ve settled not just a collaboration with them but also a title sponsorship is nothing less than fantastic. We know that they’re professional and have a great reputation in the industry, so we didn’t have any doubts about adding their brand to the names of both our races – including giving them a voice that naturally comes with a title sponsorship.”
ETU President, Renato Bertrandi is delighted that such a high profile sponsor has joined Challenge Family, “Most triathletes will have heard of Garmin and many will be in fact relying upon the very technology that sees Garmin leading the industry. I am very pleased that Challenge Denmark has established this working partnership and am sure that it will benefit the race as a whole. For the athletes, this is a big challenge, in every sense of the word. 1.9k swim, 90k bike and then to finish, the half marathon. I know that all over Europe we have thousands of athletes training for longer distance races and I hope that we here at ETU, by working with Challenge, can deliver the right sort of event. I wish everyone the very best success at the 2017 Herning ETU Garmin Challenge Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships.”
So, who will be there and who might we expect to see on the podium?
For the Elite Women, 7 nationalities will battle for the podium places and the prize-money. The Danish athletes will of course have the real “home advantage”, not only in terms of being used to the weather but also the local support. With the numbers yet to be allocated, we will have a look at the athletes in alphabetical order. From Belarus, and 4th last year in Poznań, comes Hanna Maksimova. After the 4th place in Poland she had a top 20 finish in Oklahoma over the long course and then this year a solid performance over the standard distance in Soria at the Duathlon Championships. One to watch? Yes, we think so.
Two big names come from Denmark. One is Camilla Pedersen. With World and European titles and her truly remarkable comeback after a dreadful crash, the European Ironman and Long Distance Champion 2013, World Champion Long Distance 2014, European Ironman 70.3 Champion 2015, will be the focus for many. Her training is going well. The second top Danish athlete, consistently strong over the middle and long distances, is Maja Stage Nielsen. She placed second in both Copenhagen for the duathlon and then Walchsee for the triathlon last year and it could well be that her ability to run fast off the bike will seal the race and victory here for her against Pedersen. These two athletes will be favourites for the podium. Michelle Vesterby has a 4th place in Kona behind her. 2015 was a top year for her and now doubt, in Denmark, she will be hoping for that little extra support from the home crowds but despite the strength and depth of the Danish women, they will have to race against Poland’s Ewa Bugdoł. Winner last year in Poznań, it was her power on the bike that gave her the edge.
In Herning, the bike course is one single lap, so the athletes will, as the organizers say, “be able to enjoy the wind from every angle”. A predominantly flat and fast course, there is one scenic hill, called “Trehøje”, which will definitely present a challenge for the heart rate. It is 750 meters long with a vertical rise of 40 meters and a 5.3% average increase.
12 nations will be represented in the Elite Men’s race. With a 4th place last year in Poznań, Anders Christiansen will be hoping that he can find a bit more on the run and with this being a middle distance, he might just be able to find those few minutes. Chris Fischer with a bronze over the full distance in Almere has the stamina and posted a top ten finish in the 2016 Copenhagen ETU Powerman Duathlon championships. His biking power that day was impressive. Watch out for Andreas Dreitz GER. 4th place last weekend in Samorin. He is on form. British athlete, Mark Buckingham certainly has the edge on the bike and run legs. His proven pace gave him a World Bronze in Adelaide and a 4th in Soria but he will have the greater distance and the swim to cope with. A threat to the leaders indeed but a podium appearance? Quite possibly. From Portugal, Bruno Pais will certainly be looking for a top five finish. His 2014 silver and 2015 National Middle Distance title sets him at the top of the distance rankings back home in Portugal. If the weather holds, then he will be in with a chance. When he is on form, then he can win. Russia’s Nikolay Yaroshenko had victories in Weihai at the 2016 and 2015 events. The Ukraine-born athlete has yet to translate those wins into top performances in a European Championship. This weekend might just be his.
One to watch is Alexander Kochetkov. Why? Well, quite apart from him being so amazingly tall, he is more often to be found working at these event as a Technical Official and will, shortly after this race, be focussing on the Junior European Cup in Bled, where he will be the Technical Delegate, in charge of the event.
Herning will see competition between the para-athletes. The PTS4 category will see Russia’s Denis Balatov seek to defend his title. He will be up against Lars Hansen GER, who twice took the ETU Powerman Duathlon title in Horst and against Lars Konek who won silver in Rimini and bronze last year in Walchsee. Germany’s Andrea Thamm is on the start list. Her history of podium appearances is impressive. She needs to finish this race to take the PTS4 title. In the PTVI Category, Italy’s Alberto Ceriani looks set to take the title.
Amongst the Age Group athletes there is of course the usually large team from Great Britain but they will have to work hard against the home team as many Danish athletes will also be racing. It would be great to see these Age Group athletes from the home nation race outside their own country. Perhaps that is an area the Federation would like to explore. With the amount of medals that were won last year in Copenhagen, it is certainly true that Denmark has some fast athletes. Those medals and titles are just waiting for them
Want to watch last year’s race ? Click here.
Find more details about this event - 2017 Herning ETU Challenge Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships