Raelert, Gajer take Kraichgau

It was good to see Andreas Raelert back in action, and the elder Raelert held off a very strong field that included Timo Bracht, Sebastian Kienle, Mike Aigroz and Sylvain Sudrie to win the 2012 ETU Challenge Kraichgau European Half Distance Championships in Germany. Julia Gajer, who had recently won Austria 70.3, took the women's title in course record time of 4:20:09.

The men

Viktor Aloshyn led the men out of the water in 23:18 with Sylvain Sudrie and Timo Bracht right on his heels. Andreas Raelert was about 15 seconds back and Sebastian Kienle a full 90 seconds.

A group of 15 was riding up front with Kienle in hot pursuit and by the 35km mark the hard riding German had the tail end of the group almost within arm's reach. A few kilometers later Kienle was setting the pace up front and the group started to shrink. Sudrie then made an attempt to get away but it appeared that none of the other Pros were willing to let anyone get away and he was brought back. Sudrie though was not content and pulled away again around the 60k mark, and this time it stuck. His advantage grew to about 40 seconds over Konstantin Bachor, with rest another 30 seconds or so back, but by the second transition Bachor had pulled even with the French Pro and the remaining 8 chasers were not too far behind.

Sudrie pulled away from Bachor on the run, but Raelert and Kienle were charging hard behind them. Kienle though could not hold the pace of Raelert and by 5k it was Raelert in the lead with Sudrie in second and Kienle in third place and Timo Bracht in fourth. Half way through the run Kienle caught Sudrie and soon after took over second place. Sudrie though hung tough and never let the lanky German get too much of a lead. For Bracht though, this was not his day and after possibly working a bit too much during the bike segment he fell back further. No one though could touch Andreas Raelert and he crossed the line in 3:48:14 with a 1:09:29 half marathon to take the European half distance title.

Sudrie charged past Kienle with 500 meters to go to grab second place and Kienle held on to third position.

The women

Gajer who finished second here in 2011 had defending champion Yvonne Van Vlerken and a host of others to contend with, but it was Line Jensen who distanced all the other contenders with a superb swim.

Out on the bike she was not too far behind the leading men and actually had to be told by officials that she in fact needs more distance to those men. Around 28 km Jensen had a 4:24 lead over Gina Crawford, 4:54 on Camilla Pedersen and 5:37 on Julia Gajer. Yvonne Van Vlerken and Sonja Tajsich were even further back. While no one really came close to catch the fast Dane, eventually the chasing women were riding together. Coming into T2, Jensen still had a huge lead with Gajer next 5 minutes later and Pedersen another 12 seconds after her. Crawford and Van Vlerken reached the bike-run transition next.

Early on Jensen pretty much held on to her big lead and was still ahead by over 4 minutes after 7 kilometers, but Gajer was running well and started to pull more time back. At the 12k mark the lead was down to 2:36 and another 5k later it had shrunk to 40 seconds. Gajer passed Jensen with one k to go and took the title in a course record time of 4:20:09. Jensen finished second and Delphine Pelletier took the final podium spot.

ETU Challenge Kraichgau European Championships
Kraichgau, Germany / June 10, 2012
1.9km swim / 90km bike / 21km run

Top men

1. Andreas Raelert (GER) 3:48:15
2. Sylvain Sudrie (FRA) 3:50:57
3. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:51:11
4. Mike Aigroz (SUI) 3:53:24
5. Dorian Wagner (GER) 3:54:13
6. Timo Bracht (GER) 3:54:45
7. Nikolay Yaroshenko (RUS) 3:55:48
8. Konstantin Bachor (GER) 3:56:28
9. Felix Schuhmann (GER) 3:56:36
10. Nicolas Fernandez (FRA) 3:58:20

Top women

1. Julia Gajer (GER) 4:20:09
2. Line Jensen (DEN) 4:20:47
3. Delphine Pelletier (FRA) 4:22:47
4. Camilla Pedersen (DEN) 4:24:22
5. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 4:25:11
6. Gina Crawford (NZL) 4:25:17
7. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:26:31
8. Daniela Sämmler (GER) 4:28:50
9. Jenny Schulz (GER) 4:34:18
10. Eva Böhrer 4:37:05