Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain battled back from a flat tire to win his second consecutive European Championship title and 21-year-old Emmie Charayron of France ran away from the field to take her biggest elite win of her career.
Alistair Brownlee had a flat tire 15 kilometers into the bike and charged back to come out of T2 in 5th. Alistair, running with his younger brother Jonathan, caught Russian Dimitry Polyansky at the end of the first of four laps of the 10k run. The brothers Brownlee then lengthened their lead to 12 seconds by the end of the third lap of the run, whereupon Alistair edged ahead and crossed the line in 1:48:48 with a 7-seconds margin on Jonathan. As always, the Brownlees carved out their winning margin on the run as Alistair posted a race-best 30:12, Jonathan notched a second-best 30:22 and Polyansky held on to third with a 32:05 mark, 14 seconds back of Jonathan Brownlee and 7 seconds ahead of home country hero and 4th place finisher Mario Mola.
The true home country favorite, 2008 ITU World Champion Javier Gomez, started the run near the front, but cramps faded him to a 1:54:05 finish, one second behind 2002 ITU World Champion and fellow Spaniard Ivan Rana.
The women’s race began with top swimmers Sarissa De Vries of the Netherlands, Margit Vanek of Hungary, Jodie Stimpson and Hollie Avil of Great Britain and Aileen Morrison of Ireland acquiring a lead and trying to make an early break on the bike. Emmie Charayron of France, the 2009 European and World Junior champion and 3rd at the 2010 World Under 23 championship but off the back at last year’s elite European championship, was one minute back after the swim and in danger of irrelevance if the break was successful. But Charayron pushed hard and led the chase pack to catch the leaders after the third 5 kilometer lap of 8 on the bike. After the fusion, the lead pack was then an unwieldy bunch of 30 riders. While 5 different riders took the lead and tried to make a second break, no one succeeded in breaking out of the aerodynamic gravity of the group.
This left the race up to the run, and Charayron was more than up to the task. She broke the T2 leader Mateja Simic of Slovenia immediately, and then took a 20-second lead on the first of four 2.5 kilometer laps. Charayron stretched lead that out methodically with a race-best 35:41 10k run which gave her a winning margin of 87 seconds as she finished in 2:04:00.
"I'm very, very, very happy," Charayron told ITU media. "It was a very hard race because it was hot; I am very pleased to win. I was in the second group out of the water, but we rode so hard to catch up. On the run, I felt very good and it was amazing."
In elite racing, Charayron’s best previous finish was a 2nd at the 2010 World Championship Series round in Madrid.
The duel of the day was well behind Charayron where Ainhoa Murua of Spain, Vendula Frintova of the Czech Republic and Annamaria Mazzetti of Italy ran together into the final lap. At the final turn before the finish, Frintova and Mazzetti found another gear that Murua could not match and in the final 100 meters Frintova eked out a 1 second margin to take the silver in 2:05:27. Despite the loss of the silver, Mazzetti was quite grateful to gain the final medal.
“I didn't want to finish fourth," Mazzetti told ITU media. “I am very happy. In the winter, when I was training, I was dreaming of this race - the European Championships. I am very happy to win a medal.”
ETU European Championship
June 25, 2011
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:48
2. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:55
3. Dimitry Polyansky (RUS) 1:50:09
4. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:50:16
5. Alessandro Fabian (ITA) 1:50:23
6. Joao Pereira (POR) 1:50:39
7. Laurent Vidal (FRA) 1:50:54
8. Danylo Sapunov (UKR)
9. Tony Moulai (FRA) 1:51:02
10. Ygor Martynenko (UKR) 1:51:03
39. Ivan Rana (ESP) 1:54:04
40. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:54:05
1. Emmie Charayron (FRA) 2:04:00
2. Vendula Frintova (CZE) 2:05:27
3. Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) 2:05:28
4. Ainhoa Murua (ESP) 2:05:40
5. Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) 2:06:10
6. Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP) 2:06:21
7. Zsofia Kovacs (HUN) 2:06:22
8. Sarah Fladung (GER) 2:06:27
9. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 2:06:29
10. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 2:06:41
12. Hollie Avil (GBR) 2:07:05
14. Aileen Morrison (IRL) 2:07:29