By Paul Groves on 20/06/15 at 8:29 am
What are you doing this weekend?
Well for some, they have played a strategic card and are heading to Bulgaria, to Burgas, on the Black Sea coast where they will collect valuable points and have a chance to win some of the €10,000 prize purse. Having spoken to several athletes over the past weeks, it is clear that whilst they love the excitement of the big races, there is a great chance to win the valuable points at some of the smaller events. Burgas falls into that category but don’t think it will be an easy course.
This sprint distance event starts with a one-lap 750m swim in the Black Sea before a challenging climb from the water to T1. Then 4 laps out on the bike on a flat course, to end with a two-lap 5k run. This event was used last year as the Balkan Championships and is a familiar course for many of the athletes from that region. This year will see a selection of top athletes who raced only last weekend in the heat and wind of Baku at the 2015 European Games. When you are at the top, there really is no rest, it seems. 12 nations will be represented there.
Leading the women’s ranking is Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratiova. Her excellent 4th place in Baku showed that her winter training has really paid off with a stunning final leg and with her sharing the fastest run split with Olympic champion, Nicola Spirig. She also features on the event poster. Against her will be racing Liubov Polyanskaya, RUS. She comes to this race fresh but with a disappointing result from Chengdu. Coming over from Calgary, Canada, is Ellen Pennock. Having taken silver at the London World Championships in 2013 she has been struggling with a series of injuries, including a clavicle fracture at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games but now in fine form, she is using the European circuit to build up her points. She will be travelling with her younger brother, Russell, who will also race, so there could even be some sibling rivalry to see who can place highest and snap up those ITU points.
Also from Ukraine and known for her strong swim is Inna Ryzhykh. Having raced in Baku and emerged from the water in a strong position, bad luck on the bike and tough run meant that her result was not as high as you would have liked. From France and also featuring on the event poster, is Julie Nivoix. Her philosophy is simple, “So here we are. Setting off for Bulgaria and the first European Cup of the season and my first event abroad this year. Give the best, have a great time and take stock of things afterwards, that’s the plan”. She took a bronze medal last year in Loutraki and earlier in 2014 another bronze in the Larache Sprint event. Perhaps the rest will have done her good and her batteries will be recharged.
Bulgarian hopes will be resting on Hrista Stoyneva. Having won this race last year she has had a series of setbacks including a fall in the Balkan Cross Duathlon Championships and was lapped in Baku. She will be hoping to show her sponsors and Federation her true strength here on home soil. One not to be ignored is Alberte Kjær Pedersen DEN. She has won gold at her last two international events and may well be a surprise for the more established Elite.
For the men, it will be a massive start and promises to be a real fight all the way around the course. We expect a tight swim but then a huge peloton on the bike with everything coming down to who has the run pace for the medals. 21 nations will race and as we mentioned above it really does seem now that athletes and their coaches are identifying smaller events as being the place to win their points.
Late entrant Yegor Martynenko, UKR claimed a 10th place in Baku but has yet to find the form he had a couple of years ago. His gold at the Luxor Sprint Duathlon certainly showed that he has the pace and with such a large field in Burgas, a good swim and strategic placing in the bike could open up a door for him to the podium. Leading the ranking is Vladimir Turbayevskiy RUS. Born in Kyiv and partner of Yelistratova, the dream result would be both on the podium. No pressure there then ! With a 6th place in Antalya and a solid period of winter training he certainly stands a chance of a podium. Ivan Tutukin RUS finished off 2014 with a top ten place in Alanya after a silver in Karlovy Vary but has yet to show good form. Both Tutukin and Turbayevskiy will be joined by Andrey Bryukhankov, younger of the Bryukhankov brothers. We have seen his power on the bike on the WTS series and who knows, with a couple of determined others, he might form part of a break away this weekend.
Having spoken to Daniel Hofer ITA in Rimini he is looking at Burgas as a race to give him points. His silver medal in Havana earlier this year reminded us that he is not yet ready to hang up his tri kit. Coming over from Canada, with his elder sister racing as well, is Russell Pennock. With his gold at the recent Dallas Sprint triathlon and title holder of the Canadian Juniors Championships, he will be hoping to show good form here in Europe.
There is also a Junior European Cup taking place this weekend. Women from 8 nations will race the sprint distance. Leading the rankings there is Therese Feuersinger AUT. She swam strongly in Vienna a few weeks ago and if she can find a bit more pace on the run will certainly stand a good chance of taking home a medal. Kirsten Nuyes NLD is ranked number 2. Her top 20 in Quarteira improved to a top 10 in Melilla. Strong on the bike this might be a top five for her. Elisabetta Vitasović CRO, had a good race in Kupiškis but, coming 4th, missed the chance of a podium. As part of the ETU Development Team, it would be great to see if the time spent in Alicante earlier this year helps her onto the podium.
The junior men shows 12 nations will be on the start line. Mikita Katsianeu BLR will lead that ranking following his great performances this year. A silver in Kupiškis and a bronze in Vienna show him to be in great form. He will be up against Polish athlete Michał Oliwa. He just missed out on the medals in Kupiškis and in Melilla but has been using the Polish domestic circuit and the Super Sprint races in particular to sharpen up his racing. Tadeas Fazekas SVK races duathlon and triathlon. His top ten place in Weyer last year should that he certainly has bike and run pace. His top 10 place in Kupiškis shows that he can swim with the best too.
Find more details about this event - 2015 Burgas ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup