After the excitement of the previous day’s individual races, it was time for the Winter Triathlon Team Championships. Overall 15 teams, representing five nations took to the start line in Norway, to stake their claim on the World Championship title. In the team relay there are three people on each team and each team member completes a two kilometre run, three kilometre mountain bike and three kilometre cross-country ski before handing off to their teammate. The first team across the line wins.
Norway, Russia, Italy, Austria and USA all lined out in the men’s race. However it was the home nation of Norway who dominated from the very beginning. Arne Post, the first member of the Norwegian team took the lead early on in the run . Post increases the gap between himself and the chasing Russian duo Maxim Kuzmin and Dmitry Bregada on the bike. It was a surprise as Post suffered badly on the bike in the individual race but seemed much more focused during the team event. With a traditionally strong cross country ski he had a 45 second gap on the Russian teams at the first changeover.
It didn’t take the second Norwegian Tor-Atle Fuglerrud long to increase the gap even further on the run and bike legs, with a powerful performance. By the end of his bike leg, Fuglerrud had a 1 min 30 sec lead and it was looking like nobody would be able to challenge the reigning team champions, Norway for their world title. Fuglerrud handed off to the strongest member of the Norwegian team; Tor Halvor Bjornstad the silver medallist from the individual race, and Bjornstad made sure he held onto the lead to ensure the gold medal for Norway. By the time the Russian Team One anchor Pavel Andreev crossed the line, he was over 2 minutes 14 seconds behind.
However the real battle in the men’s race was for the bronze medal. Pavel Khanzhin of Russia Team Two and Gabrielle Caretta of Italy battled it out on the final leg to try and claim the third position. The pair came into the final transition from bike to ski side by side, and it was clear it would all come down to the final cross country ski to determine the victor. The pair battled fiercely on the final three kilometre ski and it came down to a sprint finish down the home straight. The Russian had just too much for the Italian and took the third sport by a mere second. Russian Team Two took the third position overall with the prize money, but Italy claimed the bronze medal, since only one medal per nation is allowed at the Team World Championships.
USA, Norway, Russia and Austria all lined out for the women’s race. The s race was dominated from start to finish by the US team who were simply too strong for all the other nations in today’s race. USA lead off with Emma Garrard, looking to make up after her disappointing flat tire in the individual race. Garrard took the lead early on and maintained her lead from the chasing Myhre from Norway, Wasle from Austria and the Russian pair.
Garrard handed off to Heather Best, who further extended the American’s lead with a solid run, bike and ski combination. Norway’s Hanne Tronnes maintained second place for Norway followed by Russia and Austria. By the time best entered the final changeover it was clear that gold was assured for the US. World Champion Rebecca Dussault looked fresh after her win yesterday and increased the gap over Norway’s Tuva Toftdahl. By the time she crossed the finish line to claim the gold medal for the US, Dussault had a 4 minute 26 second gap on second place Norway. Russian finished a further three minutes back to claim the bronze medal.
1. Norway (Arne Post, Tor-Atle Fuglerrud, Tor Halvor Bjornstad) 1:11:26
2. Russia 1(Maxim Kuzmin, Konstantin Lavrentyev, Pavel Andreev) 1:13:40 + 2:14
3. Russia 2 (Dmitry Bregada, Eugeniy Bayguzov, Pavel Khanzhin) 1:16:26 +5:00
4. Italy (Thomas Niederegger, Daniel Antonioli, Gabrielle Caretta) 1: 16:27 +5:01
5. Russia 3 (Pavel Yakimov, Evgeniy Baygunzov, Pavel Khanzhin) 1:18:31 +7:05
6. Austria (Markus Rothberger, Florian Moser, Sigi Bauer) 1:18:58 + 7:32
7. USA (Jay Henry, Neal Henderson, Brian Smith) 1:22:54 + 11:28
1. USA (Emma Garrand, Heather Best, Rebecca Dussault) 1:23:58
2. Norway (Marthe K. Myhre, Hanne Tronnes, Tuva Toftdahl) 1:28:24 +4:26
3. Russia 1 (Anna Euseeva, Tatiana Charockina, Yulia Surikova) 1: 31:23 +7:25
4. Austria ( Carina Wasle, Klaudia Mesterhofer, Romana Slavinec) 1:31:55 +7:57
5. Russia 2 (Anna Euseeva, Tatiana Charockina, Yulia Surikova) 1:34:43 +10:45