Triathlon fans in Eilat will get more than they bargained for this weekend with both a European Cup and the U23 European Championships taking place in the southern Israeli city.
Following the cancellation of the U23 European Championships in Poland in the summer the LOC and Israeli Triathlon Association stepped into the breach and have worked tirelessly to ensure that both competitions will be held simultaneously.
The weekend opens on Friday afternoon, 28th October, with the Elite Men U23 European Championship final. Amongst the contenders is Frenchman Etienne Diemunsch. The newly crowned Duathlon World Champion has been struggling with an injury in the build up to Eilat is confident of mounting a strong challenge here. “My preparation isn’t going as well as it could have been,” said Diemunsch. “I have been struggling with a back injury which makes the swimming harder but I would like to finish on the podium. I have never been to Israel so it’s a good opportunity to discover this country.”
Diemunsch will have an added incentive to do well in Eilat as he will be ineligible to compete in U23 next year. He said: “Yes, I am 24 in April and so this will be my last race as an U23. It’s an exciting challenge, I tell myself, it’s time to play the real game with everybody.”
Diemunsch will have compatriots Pierre Le Corre and Aurelien Raphael to fight with in Eilat. Le Corre has had a consistent European season with three top seven places in Brasschaat, Cremona and Karlovy Vary along with another 7th in the ITU World Championships Series Grand Final in Beijing.
Raphael is the 2006 European Junior Champion and 2007 Junior World Champion and he too will be bidding farewell to U23 competition.
Or can double U23 European Champion Joao Silva (POR) win the title again for the third time? The 2008 and 2010 U23 Champion proved his class with victory in Yokohama for his first ever ITU World Championship series win last month.
On Saturday morning the U23 women do battle and again there is a great pedigree amongst the starting list with an array of former and reigning European Championships competing together. 2007 Junior European Champion Hollie Avil (GBR), 2011 European Junior Runner up Eszter Dudas (HUN) and reigning U23 European Champion Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL) .
But the only athlete starting who has won previously in Eilat is Yulia Yelistratova (UKR). She won a European Cup here in 2009 and a Junior cup in 2006 this experience may be vital.
EILAT EUROPEAN CUP
There is a really strong Eastern European feel to the start list for the final European Cup race of 2011.
Danylo Sapunov, Yegor Martynenko (UKR) and Dmitry Polyansky, Alexander Vryukankov, Yulian Malyshev (RUS) have all shone this year in 2011 with some impressive results between them.
Slovakia’s Richard Varga will be amongst the front runners after the swim as he so often dominates in the water.
Israeli brothers Ran and Dan Alterman will be cheered on by the enthusiastic home support dreaming of a repeat Alterman one-two as in 2006. Although, Ran Alterman had an impressive bronze medal finish here in 2009.
In the Women’s Elite European Cup race, Eszter Pap has two Junior European Cup victories in 2011 and makes a step up to a more senior elite field which will be fantastic test for her development.