Fernandes and Clarke are Euro U23 champs!
On the first day of the U23 and Youth Triathlon European Championships the junior athletes warmed up the course. The next round of the Junior European Cup series was held on sprint distance. Athletes coming with their national teams took the opportunity to get to a very competitive race. Alistair Brownlee from Great Britain – bronze medallist in Autun - finished first position, followed by Lukas Salvisberg from Switzerland and 4 Italian athletes with Massimo Di Ponti as the best of them. In the women’s event, Annamaria Mazzetti from Italy came first followed by the Ukrainian Yuliya Yelistratova and Abbie Thorrington from Great Britain.
The heat was on when the 40 women athletes dived into the water for the Olympic Distance race. Multiple European Champion, Vanessa Fernandes was the absolute pre race favorite, but there were other athletes on the start line had good race in Autun 2 weeks ago. British duo Helen Tucker and Vanessa Raw were the two first out of the water followed by the Hungarian Margit Vanek and Fernandes. A group of 13 athletes formed on the bike lead by the Portuguese champion. On the run Fernandes moved to the front immediately, but could not maintain her lead over a minute as many of the spectators expected. Virgine Jouve from France finished second and Elizabeth May from Luxembourg finished third with an impressive run.
A large field of 73 athletes started the race right after the women were off the course. The Men athletes copied to women in the swim while two British were on the lead included Oliver Freeman and Harry Wiltshire. The whole field was together, more than 20 athletes exited the water within 10 seconds. On the bike two major grouped was formed. A bigger on the lead with over 20 athletes sitting in it and an other one with 14 athletes trying to bridge the gap over the leaders. The British contingent was working hard in the front with the Spanish Francesco Godoy, but on the 4th lap of the bike the two groups became 1 huge leading group. On the run one-one Hungarian and British duo was in the front included Balazs Pocsai and Tamas Nogradi from Hungary and William Clarke and Oliver Freeman from Great Britain. Nogradi dropped from this group in the second half of the run and the British could increase their lead over the whole filed. Finally Clarke was the fastest claiming the gold medal, Freeman came second and Pocsai third.
The program will continue tomorrow with the Youth relays in the morning and the U23 team relay in the afternoon. Stay tuned on www.etu-triathlon.org and www.triathlon.org!