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Charayron wins ETU European Triathlon Championships

Brownlee takes the men’s title.

2011 Pontevedra ETU Triathlon European Championships

The Women’s Race

Emmie Charayron (FRA) once again reigned supreme as a European champion, this time in the women’s elite division at the 2011 ETU European Triathlon Championships. While Charayron won the 2009 Junior European Championships, she failed to medal last year as a competitor in the elite division.

However, she changed that this year with a beastly run to win the elite title with more than a minute run to spare. The French woman even had time to slow down to pick up her country’s flag and give a few high five’s along the way.

“I’m very, very, very happy,” Charyron said. “It was very good to race here. It was a very hard race because it was hot, I am very pleased to win. I remember my first junior title and I wanted to do the same here.”

Early on in the race, top swimmers Sarissa De Vries (NED), Margit Vanek (HUN), Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Hollie Avil (GBR) and Aileen Morrison (IRL) looked to make a break on the bike, but were shortly caught by the chase groups. Although Charayron was nearly a minute down after the swim portion of the race, she pushed the pace of the second chase group to catch the lead pack after three laps on the bike.

The two chase groups fused into a large pack of more than 30 athletes to make up a heavy lead pack. Throughout the bike, it was anybody’s game, as the women played a giant game of cat and mouse, each jostling for positions in the front of the pack. The bike portion saw no less than fiver different leaders in it’s eight-lap course.

Mateja Simic (SLO) looked to be a strong contender for a podium position, as one of the most consistent athletes in the swim and bike segments. Despite coming out first in T2, it didn’t take long for her to be overtaken. Charyron wasted no time in unleashing her speed on the run, quickly demolishing the competition.

After the first lap, Charyron owned a 20-second lead, a pace which she maintained throughout the run. By the halfway-mark, she owned a 40-second advantage. She managed to increase her distance even more, running smoothly to a comfortable minute and a half win.

“I was in the second group out of the water, but we rode so hard to catch up,” Charyron said. “On the run, I felt very good and it was amazing”

Midway through the run, with Charayron out of sight, it became clear the race was for a podium position between Ainhoa Murua (ESP), Vendula Frintova (CZE), Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA). While Mazzetti rode strong in the lead pack, she battled back from a six-second deficit after the first lap to join the chase run group.

The three ran together through the final turn, when Fritova and Mazzetti switched into high gear and sprinted towards the finish, leaving Murua behind. Going stride for stride, Frintova found some extra strength in the final 100 meters to sail past Mazzetti for the silver.

“I didn’t want to finish fourth,” Mazzetti said. “I wanted a medal. To finish third is a great result. I am very happy. In the winter, when I was training, I was dreaming of this race – the European Championships. I am very happy.”

Top 10 Elite Women

Swim 1.5km, Bike 40km, Run 10km

Gold – Emmie Charayron (FRA)  2:04:00

Silver – Vendula Frintova (CZE)  2:05:27

Bronze – Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA)  2:05:28

4th – Ainhoa Murua (ESP)  2:05:40

5th – Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR)  2:06:10

6th – Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP)  2:06:21

7th – Zsofia Kovacs (HUN)  2:06:22

8th – Sarah Fladung (GER)  2:06:27

9th – Helle Frederiksen (DEN)  2:06:29

10th – Jodie Stimpson (GBR)  2:06:41

The Men’s Race

Nothing could keep Alistair Brownlee (GBR) from retaining the European Championship, not even technical difficulties. Despite falling nearly two minutes behind due to a punctured tire, Alistair made a quick repair and sped his way back to the top to claim his second consecutive title after a monster run.

His brother Jonathan joined him on the podium in the No. 2 spot to give Great Britain top honors at the 2011 ETU European Championships. The battle for third went to Dmitry Polyansky (RUS), edging out Spain’s Mario Mola who finished in fourth in front of an excited crowd.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Alistair said about winning. “It is my first re-claimed senior title, which I am delighted about.”

From the start, the Brownlee brothers positioned themselves well, swimming on the hip of leaders Ivan Vasiliev (RUS), Alessandro Fabian (ITA) and Richard Varga (SVK). Varga sped to the front on the second lap and made it out of T1 as the man to chase. Alistair, Vasiliev, and Jonathan followed, with a slew of men behind them ready to segway to the bike.

Vasiliev and the Brownlee’s took the reins in the lead group, controlling the pace with the the first chase group 20 seconds back in the first lap. Javier Gomez (ESP), who won the European Championships in 2009, rode in the second chase group on the first lap. Trying to reclaim his title, Gomez made his way to the front of the chase pack in the second lap in an attempt to catch a blistering pace set by Fabian.

On the third lap, Alistair, who was pushing the speed hard, fell out of contention due to technical difficulties. His brother and Vasiliev continued on in the top spots. By midway, Gomez joined Jonathan and the leaders, fusing the lead and chase pack together for a group of 29 men separated by just 5 seconds. Alistair, back on his bike, continued fighting, leading the new chase pack who were 56 seconds back.

By the end of the fifth lap, Alistair had made up an incredible 30 seconds, giving a vicious effort to catch his brother and new leader Attila Fecskovics (HUN). Without Alistair, the lead group continued to slow, allowing him to move the chase peloton all the way up to the leaders by the sixth lap, causing all 44 men to ride within seven seconds of each other.

“I just went as fast as I could and was racing as hard as I could,” Alistair said. “I just wanted to get back in the race. I had great support from the team. Todd did some great pulling and Jonny did some blocking. I’m sure he would have won if he hadn’t.”

In the final laps, Polyansky (RUS) and Todd Leckie (GBR) made a break for it, opening up a 10-second distance. Polyansky got caught up in T2 when he confused his spot in the transition area. He joined  Pavel Simko (SVK) and Leckie, but the Brownlee brothers, 33 seconds down, wasted no time setting out on a cannon pace and quickly chasing down the leaders.

Gomez also pushed the first round, moving into fifth place and 22 seconds out of gold medal contention. For a short time, there were flashbacks from Madrid, where the podium consisted of the Brownlees and Gomez. However, it proved to be too much too soon, as Gomez faded nearly two minutes behind on the second leg due to a stitch.

“I just couldn’t run. I had a stitch,” Gomez said. “I almost stopped completely, but Ivan (Rana) came along and said ‘You have to finish.’ So, I tried to keep running and finish for the crowd. I am really sorry for the crowd that came to support me. They are very special. That’s why I wanted to finish.”

The Brownlees took the opportunity to continue to surge forward, giving themselves a 19-second lead. Polyansky attempted to hold of Spanish hope Mola, who was rapidly making up distance between himself and third place.

“For a while I thought I was going to win,” Polyansky said. “I was very happy. I was even happy when I was behind the Brownlee brothers. It was an enormous race today.”

By the final lap, Alistair entered the stadium with a hefty lead over his younger brother. Unstoppable, Alistair crossed the finish line first to claim his third title, followed by this brother eight seconds later. Mola made a valiant effort to catch Polyansky, but the distance was too great, giving Polyansky the bronze.

The European Championships continue tomorrow with the Junior and Elite Team Triathlons. For live timing, click here.

Top 10 Elite Men

Swim 1.5km, Bike 40km, Run 10km

Gold – Alistair Brownlee (GBR)  1:48:48

Silver – Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)  1:48:55

Bronze – Dmitry Polyansky (RUS)  1:50:09

4th – Mario Mola (ESP)  1:50:16

5th – Alessandro Fabian (ITA)  1:50:23

6th – Joao Pereira (POR)  1:50:39

7th – Laurent Vidal (FRA)  1:50:54

8th – Danylo Sapunov (UKR)  1:50:55

9th – Tony Moulai (FRA)  1:51:02

10th – Yegor Martynenko (UKR)  1:51:03