By Paul Groves on 17/06/17 at 9:37 pm
A massive line-up of Junior Men was an impressive sight at the swim start in Kitzbühel this afternoon.
With the Schwarzsee venue hosting thousands of spectators, the one-lap course was led by Germany’s Moritz Horn. He was first along the blue carpet and into T1 but was followed by all the race favourites.
As defending champion, Javier Lluch Perez ESP would need to be in the lead group our on the bike. He managed just that but that group, comprising 15+ athletes, also contained his biggest threats. They were Alberto Gonzalez Garcia ESP and Vasco Vilaça POR.
A series of crashes reduced the numbers racing along the 4-lap 20k bike course but as the leading group got closer to the end of the 3rd lap they were caught by the chase pack and the crowds were then treated to a huge peloton speeding along the technical and hilly Kitzbühel course.
Coming into T2 and there was a clash of bikes that led to Luxembourg’s Oliver Gorges crashing out and laying still on the carpet.
Our thoughts went back to Cagliari as the Technical Officials and medical team secured the area and tended to the downed athlete.
In front of him, four athletes had a super-fast transition and were able to break out onto the run ahead of the chasing group.
By the end of the first lap, Lluch, Gonzalez, Csongor Lehmann HUN and Vilaça had created a significant gap and we all knew that the three medals would be shared by this group of four.
With just over 200m to go, it was Vilaça who kicked and maintained the pace all the way home to take the title. Just behind him, the defending champion had to settle for silver but to the delight of several ITU HQ officials, it was Lehmann who had just that little bit more pace to take bronze.
The crowds were once again superb and the athletes were thrilled with the way they were cheered around this simply wonderful town.
Medals then for Portugal, Spain and Hungary.
What could the Elite Men bring?
Well, it was a stellar line-up and all eyes were upon the Spanish team. With a superb run in Leeds, at 30:44, which was faster than both the Brownlee Brothers, it was Fernando Alarza who looked to be race favourite. He would be surrounded by his teammates, Vicente Hernandez and Uxío Abuín Ares and it looked as if the Spanish would be in with a medal chance, or two.
The swim was led easily by Richard Varga. He set the pace over the first lap and then pulled effortlessly into the lead to run first into T1. With both Polyanskiy brothers; Dmitry and younger brother Igor just a pace behind him the crowds went wild as they watched Alois Knabl AUT follow these athletes along the carpet and into T1.
A steady stream of athletes made it into the lead peloton and Alarza had missed the leaders by almost a minute. It looked like it was all over for him as he battled in the chasing group.
Inside the lead group was the solid core of Abuín and Hernandez, the two Russian brothers and the two Portuguese, João Pereira and João Silva. This leading group worked hard along the 8-lap, 40k course and at one point had a lead of just over 55 seconds. Alarza could not possibly make up that deficit, or could he?
As T2 neared, the 5,000 strong crowd that surrounded the Transition Area and run exit, worked up into a frenzy of excitement by the Austrian commentator, cheered, shouted, screamed and applauded as the athletes racked their bikes, stashed the bike helmets, slipped on their running shoes and sped out onto the 10k run.
For the first stages of the 4-lap run, the group stayed pretty much together. Frenchman Raphael Montoya, with a silver recently in Madrid, was tucked into the tight group, led by Spain’s young athlete, Antonio Serrat Seoane.
Slowly the pace increased and from that group, both Russian brothers were dropped.
As the run neared the end, we had a repeat of yesterday’s Elite Women’s race, with four athletes battling for three medals. The battle would be between Portugal, Spain and France, with Montoya, Hernandez, Pereira and Silva. Behind them and with increasing determination, it was Alarza who had somehow managed to get sight of the leaders and then to find superhuman strength to get so close that we all expect the final lap to be led in by him.
Instead, out at the run turn, it was the Portuguese athletes who injected a deadly turn of pace and suddenly it was all over for the Spaniard. Along with Silva and Pereira, Montoya had been swept along with the excitement and as the athletes came into sight, it was Pereira who kicked again as the crowds urged him along.
A final sprint down the carpet to the finish left Silva with an empty tank. He cruised home for bronze, leaving the delighted Montoya to claim silver.
A quite remarkable day of racing that was almost a mirror image of yesterday, when GB won the Juniors and saw two elite women on the podium, we had today a Portuguese junior champion and two of his teammates on the podium in the Elite Men’s race.
|5.||Uxio Abuin Ares||ESP||01:45:47|
|8.||Antonio Serrat Seoane||ESP||01:46:12|
|2.||Javier Lluch Perez||ESP||00:53:40|
|4.||Alberto Gonzalez Garcia||ESP||00:53:53|
Find more details about this event - 2017 Kitzbühel ETU Triathlon European Championships