By David Peddie on 21/04/12 at 10:23 am
Matthias Steinwandter celebrated becoming European Junior Champion after his long legs powered him to victory on the final lap.
Steinwandter entered the last lap amongst a group of five in contention for the title. He made his move with half a lap to go and it was enough to secure him the Championship.
There was double joy for Italy as Delian Stateff (ITA) finished behind his compatriot and Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) completed the podium.
A 69-strong competitive field entered the water for the one lap swim. Nobody could establish a lead of any size but it was Dorian Coninx (FRA) who exited in first place. British duo Gordon Benson and Marc Austin followed in the procession as the majority of the field stayed together.
A long transition followed but Coninix maintained his lead out of T1 and onto the bike.
It was a ferocious first as the front pack of 40 stayed together, eating up the bike course. The lead changed several times as the riders jockeyed for position. The Danish riders of Thomas Strange Hansen and Casper Stenderup Korch were at the forefront after lap two, with Mikkel Jensen (also DEN) picking up the reins at the start of the third lap.
By the end of the lap, Jensen had established a little lead as they entered T2 but by in large the pack were together with nothing between them.
But it was Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) who lead out of T2, followed by Marian Schmidt (GER), Rodolphe Alexandre von Berg (ITA) and Jelle Geens (BEL) - as again this top heavy front pack lead a procession out of T2.
Something had to give and as we entered the last lap a breakaway group of five runners had been established. Simon Viain (FRA), Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Matthias Steinwandter and Delian Stateff (both ITA) and David Pap (HUN) had a lead of five seconds over the chasers and seemed certain to battle it out between themselves for the podium places.
After some hesitancy it was Steinwandter who broke with half a lap to go as his long legs pushed him towards the finishing line. Stateff went with him but Steinwandter had enough in the tank, crossing just a few second ahead of Stateff and Blummenfelt in a thrilling finish.
Steinwandter's win erases the memory of last year, when he led for the majortiy of the race in Pontevedra before finishing third. He said: "On the run I didn't expect that I would do so well at first. I really pushed and the wind was behind me and I knew that with my long legs I could do well on the sprint.
"I didn't feel so well coming into the race, but I did my best on the swim and on the bike I stayed with the group and run. It was really hard because of the wind.
"It's really great for Stateff too. It's funny because we are sharing a room in the hotel."
On his second place, a delighted Stateff said: "I'm really happy to achieve this place, it was amazing because I am one of the youngest and next year I will race again in this category. I'm really pleased and it's really amazing for the Italians too.
"The race was really hard, Italy is much colder so it was very hot and not easy for me to race today, but I like Eilat, it's an amazing place and a beautiful location for the race."
Third place Kristian Blummenfelt said: "It was amazing. I felt very strong on the run especially on the last lap. It was my goal to be on the podium.
"I had four weeks training previous to this, so I feel I was prepared for this heat."
Blummenfelt's success is also reward for the ITU/ETU Development program. Blummenfelt and his coaches attended the Athlete Development Camp in Alicante in 2011 and their hard work has paid dividends in this race.
Find more details about this event - 2012 Eilat ETU Triathlon European Championships