NATURLANDIA, Andorra — In his second year competing in the Elite category, Italy’s Franco Pesavento stormed the field of the inaugural World Triathlon Winter Duathlon Championships to claim the title, crossing the finish line more than two minutes ahead of Viorel Palici (ROU) and Hans Christian Tungesvik (NOR). The sunny morning in Andorra ended up with the athlete representing the Russian Federation Anna Medvedeva claiming the gold medal, with Norway’s Ine Skejellum crossing the finish line in second and Maria Luisa Rasina (ROU) in third place.
The run-ski format of the duathlon may remove the biking element, but the new format — three laps of 1.35km each on the run, two laps of 3.1km each on skis, and the whole block repeated three times — meant there were multiple transitions to negotiate and also multiple opportunities for spectators to cheer on the athletes every time they passed through transition.
The Elite and U23 men opened the day, with temperatures slightly over 42 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun heating the slopes of the beautiful mountain resort of Naturlandia. And it was a young Italian, Franco Pesavento, only 25 years of age, who decided to go full gas from the gun, taking the lead as soon as the athletes touched the snow, making it clear from the beginning that he was going to be the man to beat.
The first time the athletes headed uphill on the run, he had already a sizeable gap, only Benjamin Cayroche (FRA) was able to follow him. And by the time the athletes put on the skis for the first time, Pesavento was clearly going solo. With the cross country ski slope fresh and hard, it was not easy for the chasers to get hold of the Italian, who was building his confidence and showing great skiing skills. He knew that he had some strong skiers behind, like the current Winter Triathlon World Champion Hans Christian Tungesvink, and didn’t want to leave any chances.
Behind Pesavento, it was a Romanian, Viorel Palici, who led the chasers all day long, opening also a significant gap with the athletes fighting for the third place: Tungesvik and Mikhail Antipin (RTF).
Pesavento executed his race plan to perfection to cross the finish line with a comfortable lead, stopping the clock on 1hour 46 minutes 12 seconds to claim the first ever Winter Duathlon World Championship. “I am really happy, was not expecting this. I planned this race today as a training session for the winter triathlon world championships this Saturday, to get used to the venue and the course, and it played out well. The course is really hard, and being by myself almost all race didn’t make it easier. I now need to recover for Saturday.”
Behind him, Palici finished in second place, the best result of his career for the veteran Romanian triathlete, who will also be competing in the winter triathlon race on Saturday. The third place was for the current Winter Triathlon world champion, Tungesvink, who managed to leave Antipin behind in the last 3km on the skis, the segment that also gave him the winter triathlon title last year.
In the U23 category, another fantastic performance of the Italian squad gave Mattia Tanara the world title, to add to the winter triathlon U23 crown that he got last year also in Andorra. He was followed on the finish line by Marin Gautier, from France, and Ian Pennekamp (NED), who completed the hard circuit in less than two hours.
The Junior Men Winter Duathlon world title was for the Spaniard Alvaro Lopez Lucia, who competed on the sprint version of the circuit, half of the distance of the older athletes.
- Franco Pesavento ITA 1:46:12
- Viorel Palici ROU 1:48:21
- Hans Christian Tungesvik NOR 1:49:19
- Mikhail Antipin RTF 1:49:43
- Marek Rauchfuss CZE 1:50:25
The U23 and Elite women athletes decided to use the Duathlon World Championships not only as a preview of the course before the Winter Triathlon world champs on Saturday, but also as a hard training session. But the duathlete from the Russian Federation Anna Medvedeva made it look easy, managing to lead the race from start to finish, to claim the victory with more than five minutes ahead of her rivals.
Looking determined from the start, she made the icy run on the hilly course of Naturlandia look easy, negotiating every ramp with ease. She was all smiles when crossing the finish line by herself. Behind her, it was Norway’s Ine Skejellum trying to prove that the dominance of her country in the winter races last year was not by accident. Skejellum, a former cross country skier, managed to reduce a bit the gap with Medvedeva on each ski segment, but it was not enough to be in a position of fighting for the gold. The Norwegian finished the day claiming the silver medal, the first of her triathlon career, which put her on a great position to fight for the podium this Saturday.
The third spot on the podium was a hard battle between Romania’s Maria Luisa Rasina and Norway’s Julie Meinicke, with Rasina showing her credentials in the last segment on skis to claim the bronze medal, the Norwegian being the U23 World Champion.
Another Norwegian claimed the Junior World title, Victoria Nitteberg, who crossed the finish line ahead of Katja Krenn (AUT) and Benilde Candial Dolz (ESP).
- Anna Medvedeva RTF 2:05:30
- Ine Skjellum NOR 2:10:03
- Maria Luisa Rasina ROU 2:14:13
- Julie Meinicke NOR 2:16:23
- Lorena Erl GER 2:20:46