Age Group athletes bring home the gold !

Age Group athletes bring home the gold !

By Paul Groves on 20/04/16 at 12:08 pm

This weekend in Kalkar we saw a tremendously exciting competition between the athletes that ultimately led to Great Britain having to pay excess baggage on the medal haul.

Day One of the 2016 Kalkar ETU Duathlon European Championships saw a massive medal haul for the host nation and a clear indication to the Deutsche Triathlon Union that the sport of duathlon is alive and very much kicking.

Aside from the hundreds of Age Group athletes there was also a large contingent of para-athletes who would race over the Sprint Distance. It was here that the Netherlands would dominate, taking away 2 golds, a silver and a bronze.

It was Geert Schipper NED, the reigning European champion over the long distance in the PT1 category who had a runaway victory and posted the fastest times in every aspect of the race apart from T1. Silver went to Mark Conway GBR who comfortably took Britain’s first silver of the Championships and France’s Alexandre Paviza who secured the bronze.

After the race Schipper said, “Ik wilde goud en ik heb goud. Het EK duatlon in Kalkar Duitsland was de plek van mijn strijd, niet alleen tegen mijn directe concurrentie, Mark Corway. GBR en Alexandre Paviza. FRA maar vooral ook tegen de wind. Met een ruime voorsprong van ruim 8 minuten kwam ik als eerste over de streep. Tijdens het interview direct na de finish had ik mijn kopje koffie al op voordat nr 2 over de streep kwam. Dit laatste is echt geen grapje.” “I wanted gold and I got gold! The European Championships in Kalkar, Germany was the site for my battle and it was battle not only against GB’s Mark Conway and Alexandre Paviza from France but also with the wind. I had a lead of about 8 minutes when I crossed the line. In fact I’d already finished my cup of coffee when the silver medal was won. Honest, that’s no joke.”

In the PT2 category a delighted Geoffrey Wersy, FRA took the top place on the podium with a masterclass of racing.  As defending champion from Alcobendas and titles from Limerick and Horst, he knew the distance and did more than enough to secure his victory over the current World Champion. Silver went to Italy’s Alessandro Carvani Minetti.

PT3 saw another runaway victory but this time it was gold to Spain’s Kini Carrasco. He can add this title to his Cross Duathlon title from last year and got today’s medal after a superb battle to keep ahead out on the bike with GB’s Richard Mcleod who, as a relative newcomer to international racing, had to settle for silver. “Race was hard today, winds and a fast pace from the start, but silver in the bag.” Bronze went to French athlete, Jean-Pierre Astuge.

PT4 was a chance for another Spanish gold. Rafael Solis Torres, who crashed out in Zofingen and then, only 4 weeks after surgery on his collarbone had a magnificent return to racing at the immensely tough ETU Cross Duathlon Championships in Castro-Urdiales, led from the start. Posting the fastest splits for the first 5k and then keeping his advantage out on the bike, he did not have to dig deep on the final run and came across the line to take gold some distance ahead of GB’s Steven Crowley, who despite having the fastest 2nd run could not quite make up the deficit from the first part of the race.

Bronze went to Dutch athlete, Maarten Peters. After the race Soli shared his delight, “A Frenchman, an Englishman, a Dutchman and one Spaniard – a fast and intense race just from the start leaving no room for repentance, just pulling and pulling. In the first 180 degree turn, I fell but got up and recovered the position. The Dutch has been left behind but the French follows me. British athlete overtook me and is the only one that keeps me up. T1 without problems threw me to the bike and pedalled taking risks in every corner. First lap and I left the English far behind, while the Dutch Peter Martins, takes over the French and comes as a motorcycle. But I did not put my guard down and got the best bike time. T2 was very fast and with this advantage, ran to the finish line enjoying the applause but having to stop at the same time, because they had not put the finish tape up. Next stop.... In 7 days Transylvania!!”

French champion Arnaud Grandjean was a comfortable winner in the PT5 category.

Silver went to Daniel Knegt NLD.

It was the German women who made up for the lack of host nation medals with golds in PT3 and PT4. Nora Hansel and Andrea Thamm were jubilant after the race and were greeted by Lena Dieter, who had won silver in the PT5.

In that category it was another gold to the Netherlands. Joleen Hakker ensured that the medal table for para-athletes was topped by her country. Germany had to settle for second place overall and France third.

The Age Group athletes turned this unusual theme park into a stunning show of national race uniforms. With supporters cheering them on and with flags from so many nations the event must have been a delight to race. For the Standard Distance there were 71 women racing in age group categories from 18 up to 74 and with the massive British contingent, it was going to be interesting to see who would secure more medals. The fastest woman of the day over the 10k / 40k / 5k course, much to the delight of the German supports who lined the course and especially the finish area, was Kristina Ziemons in the 30-34 category. Her 2:03:39 would have placed her comfortably in the top ten in the men’s category. She is clearly an athlete we should watch out for in the future.

The golds were shared out between Great Britain, Denmark and Germany. It was the host nation that maintained control over the age groups with 7 golds. Team GB had to settle for 4 with Denmark making a big mark in the 20-24 category with a commanding victory from Ann-Kathrin Scholtyssek. Most convincing victory, with a winning margin of 14:41, was by the long-standing Age Group athlete from Great Britain, Elspeth Knott 65-69 category.

At the end of the day, the medal table was in favour of the host nation. But ... Day 2 was still to come.

179 men set off. Of them the fastest by far was Germany’s Dominik Sowieja. His 33:21 for the first 10k set the tone for the race and this was followed by a blistering T1 and then out on the bike he gave a masterclass in riding that nobody could challenge. Coming into T2 with a massive lead, he set off for the final 5k and could have taken it easy. Instead he ran 16:54, which took him over the finish line in a mightily impressive 1:46:37. It will be interesting to see how this equates to the Elite and I think we must all make a note of his name. Can you imagine how fast he could be in a draft-legal event!

So, Germany can proudly shout that they had the fastest Age Group athletes in both Men’s and Women’s races. In the men’s race Germany managed a clean sweep of medals in one category. Their 25-29 men, led by Sowieja, were a comfortable 6 minutes ahead of the chasing British but it was the Brits who had their revenge in the 35-39 category as they took all the available medals.  The biggest winning margin in the men’s races came in the second oldest age-group. Bert Streumer, NLD, was taking no prisoners when he set off at pace on the first run. With a 41:58 10k he was out onto the bike way before anyone else in his age group. With easily the strongest bike and final run, he came over the line to finish a massive 12:25 ahead of his nearest challenger.

The Sprint Distance event would give Team GB a chance to address the medal haul of the host nation. In the Women’s race a total of 88 stood patiently on the start line waiting for the heartbeats to die down, for the Race Referee to start the race and then they were off. It was a home victory for German 30-34 Category Julia Ertmer. Following recovery from a cold and a well-timed trip to a training camp in Fuerteventura, she was totally prepared for this race. Her powerful running took her to T1 in just under 19 minutes. Out onto the bike and she dominated the 20k to enable her an easy run to the finish line in the fastest time of the day, clocking 1:02:34. With great understatement, “Ich bin echt happy,” she can proudly call herself the fastest Age Group athlete in Europe. It was a clean-sweep for Team GB in six of the women’s categories, showing clear depth in the run / bike / run scene in the UK. The British Women were able to claim all the medals in the 16-19, 20-24, 35-39, 40-44, 60-64 and 65-69 categories. Unlike the standard distance there were no run-away victories and for most categories it was a hard-fought battle to secure medals.

For the men 204 athletes lined up. They too were subjected to the pressure building heart-beat thudding out of the speakers and then the silence before the start. A stunning performance from Austria’s Oliver Kreindl took him to overall victory with a 55:56 finish time that was more than enough to win the 20-24 category. He can add this to his World title in Winter Triathlon. His strength in the run took him away from the group in the second lap of the first run. His biking was not as strong as his run and he was caught out on the 20k bike but a second speedy transition ensured his pole position and it was out on the run that again he stamped his mark.

With athletes racing in all age groups up to and including 80-84 (and these two elder statesmen of the Duathlon World were not the last to finish!), the medal collection for Team GB increased. It was once again a clean-sweep for the men but only in one age group. Well done to the British athletes in the 45-49 category. German supporters were delighted to see their own men stage a convincing medal win to take the top three slots in the 75-79 category.

So for the Sprint, the medals table looked like this.

Many thanks once again to Jürgen Aulbach for his images and to those athletes who have updated their Facebook profiles to show their wonderful performances.

The final word goes to the Age Group Team GB Managers. Their athletes certainly won the lion's share but they know all too well that the next Duathlon in Copenhagen might be a very different result.

For all results, please click here.

Find more details about this event - 2016 Kalkar ETU Duathlon European Championships