Over 60,000 spectators watched Andreas Raelert and Julia Gajer (formerly Wagner) take out the European Championship titles on their home turf at this weekend’s Challenge Kraichgau, in an exciting day’s racing that saw two new course records set.
Raelert’s successful defence of his title started with him exiting the waters of Lake Hardtsee with the leading group in a time of 23:26. On the bike he stayed in that same group which also included second and third place getters Frenchmen Syvain Sudrie and Sebastian Kienle (GER).
Sudrie and German Konstantin Bachor pushed the pace on the bike and opened a gap to a group of 10 at Tiefenbach. The chasing group was right on their heels and arrived in T2 within seconds at Bad Schoenborn. Once on the run the stage was set for another Raelert victory. He took the lead from Sudrie at the five-kilometre mark and looked strong throughout completing the run 1:09:29. Kienle, who was not able to break the group on the bike, was in second place until 19km on the run. However he could not fight the last attack of Sudrie and was overtaken shortly before of the finish. Raelert’s 3:48:15 was enough to not only give him the European Championship title but also a new course record.
1 Andreas Raelert (GER) – 23:26, 2:12:51, 1:09:29, 3:48:15
2 Sylvain Sudrie (FRA) – 23:21, 2:11:30, 1:13:26, 3:50:57
3 Sebastien Kienle (GER) – 25:14, 2:11:15, 1:12:17, 3:51:11
4 Mike Aigroz (SUI) – 23:34, 2:12:40, 1:14:28, 3:53:24
5 Dorian Wagern (GER) – 23:29, 2:12:52, 1:14:20, 3:54:13
The women’s competition also saw exciting racing. Line Jensen from Denmark was first out of the water and first off the bike. She maintained pole position until the final metres of the run when Julia Gajer finally overtook her to take the European Championship title. Olympic athlete Jensen had a four-minute lead as she set out on the run. Behind her a group around soon-to-be-champion Gajer was formed. Delphine Pelletier from France, last month’s Challenge Barcelona champion Camilla Pedersen (DEN) and Challenge Wanaka champion Gina Crawford (NZL) all arrived within minutes into T2. At the end of the day, only Gajer had the legs to push Jensen and overtook her 1,000 metres from the finish line with a run split of 1:21.33. Pelletier rounded out the podium in third place.
1 Julia Gajer (GER) – 26:01, 2:29:44, 1:21:33, 4:20:09
2 Line Jensen (DEN) – 23:23, 2:27:28, 1:26:48, 4:20:47
3 Delphine Pelletier (FRA) – 25:56, 2:30:06, 1:23:59, 4:22:47
4 Camilla Pedersen (DEN) – 25:07, 2:30:47, 1:25:31, 4:24:22
5 Sonja Tajsich (GER) – 29:29, 2:30:02, 1:22:40, 4:25:11