Big shoes to follow in for European Games contenders in Krakow
The Polish city of Krakow will be the stage for triathlon’s second European Games outing, the first since Baku 2015, for a standard-distance challenge between some of the continent’s biggest names and up-and-coming stars.
On Wednesday 28 June, 55 women from 24 nations will toe the line on the edge of the beautiful Nowa Huta Lake to the east of the city centre, the 1.5km swim transitions to an 8-lap, 40km bike and finishes with a 4-lap 10km run for the title.
Pedigree past and present
The women’s podium at the inaugural European Games Triathlon 8 years ago in Baku was a remarkable trio of talent, topped by Nicola Spirig, with Rachel Klamer and Lisa Norden second and third.
This year’s edition may feature fewer Olympic greats, but the talent runs deep through a start list that is headed up by Italy’s Verena Steinhauser. Consistently in and around the top 10 at Series and World Cup level and with a handful of podium showings, victory in Krakow would be the perfect launchpad into the 28-year-old’s next Olympic campaign.
Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer has been in sparkling form across a range of formats already this year including the Arena Games, Duathlon and Aquathlon World Championships and has moved forward considerably since her European Games 31st-place in 2015. Expect a front-pack swim-bike before all eyes switch to that 10km staying power.
Great Dane ready to pounce
Alberte Kjaer Pedersen leads the line for Denmark, the irrepressible 24-year-old who burst into the big time in 2021 with a World Cup triumph in Huatulco and U23 world silver, scored another gold in Miyazaki in late 2022 and could be a decisive player in how the Krakow racing plays out.
One of those that Pedersen out-ran in Japan was Olivia Mathias, one of three Brits who have a strong chance of medalling and are no strangers to some of the biggest podiums in the world, including U23 World Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Cups. Sian Rainsley has had few racing opportunities since returning to full fitness, Sophie Alden also raring to go as she hits only her third start line of 2023.
The Austrians also have three major contenders in Julia Hauser, Sara Vilic and Therese Feursinger, while Sandra Dodet could be the one to beat if she is in touch off the bike and out onto the run. Nobody on the start list has won more World Cup medals than the 26-year-old French star and her ability to pull clear and hold her nerve over the final kilometres has been proven time and again.
Jolien Vermeylen was the Belgian breakout last year with a hard-fought World Cup silver in Bergen, the national champion now also a regular on the WTCS circuit and looking to build on what was a disappointing 27th place at the European Championships in Madrid. On the subject of Bergen, Lotte Miller continues to plot a path back to her very best form and the former Junior Worlds bronze medallist who finished 20th at the sprightly age of 19 at the European Games Baku will be one to watch if she can carve out an advantage on the bike over the likes of Dodet and Vermeylen.
Full start lists available here.
Related Event: 2023 Krakow-Malopolska European Games
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||01:46:50|