Sigrid Lang and Benjamin Sonntag (both from Germany) won the Winter Triathlon World Championships in Sjusjoen, Norway in two exciting races that thrilled the local crowd.
Fair weather conditions welcomed the athletes on the first competition day of the World Championships. The temperature was far below zero and the sun was shining since early in the morning.
Most of the current favourites were on the start line. On the run Marlies Penner from Austria and Danelle Ballengee from USA took the lead after 5km and kept it during the entire run. Right on their feet German favourite Sigrid Lang and the Swedish Eva Nystrom was running and within 15 seconds. The were so colse that Lang was out of the tranisition first.
After the first lap it was clear that Lang will be the first after the second discipline since she was 1 minute faster per lap than any other athlete. Nystrom could keep the second place, but Gabi Pauli from Germany was also very strong on the bike. She got closer and closer to the Swedish athlete and they entered to the 2 Transition together over 3 minutes behind Lang. Sarka Grabmullerova came on fourth and there were 7 nations represented in the top eight at this stage of the race.
Lang maintained her lead on the cross country ski on almost the whole field with the third best ski time of the day and she defended her World Champion title! Nystrom and Pauli had a very close sprint finish for the second place and the Swedish was half second faster at the end.
In the U23 competition was won by the local favourite, Lydia Weydahl.
By the time the men went behind the startline the conditions remained the same and more and more local fan came to watch the event.
After the start, Norwegian Arne Post took the lead together with local hero and cross-country World Champion, Anders Aukland. They were closely followed by Pavel Brydl from Czech Republic and Heinz Planitzer from Austria. Ten athletes managed to finish the run segment within one minute, which predicted a dynamic MTB and ski with a lot of actions.
The Norwegians Arne Post and Alf Roger Holme - began their bike-ride like a rocket and managed to get the lead, but Benjamin Sonntag came very fast from behind. Half way through he was on the lead with Holme. In the second half of the bike, Sonntag was in the front alone, making bigger and bigger gaps over the two Norweginas. David Roderer from Germany, former World Champion Sigi Bauer from Austra and Peter Barton from Slovakia came on the 4th, 5th and 6th places.
The ski leg promised a real thriller between Sonntag and Holme, and the spectators watched passionately as the Norwegian fought hard to get closer to the leader. Post kept his third position, but he was too far behind the leaders to go for the gold this day. Sonntag managed to keep over 30 seconds of his lead and won the World Championships after his victory in 2003 and being away fom the last two season. What a return! Holme finished on the scond place and Post brought a bronze for Norway, Bauer came onto the fourth position and Peter Barton finished fifth. Cross-country ski Olympians Andres Aukland and John Anders Gaustad performed the best ski time of the day, but it was enough only for the 8th and 12th positions.Tomas Jurkovic from Slovakia claimed gold in the U23 category.
On Sunday the course will be ready for the Team competitions and the Age-Group athletes. Stay tuned on www.triathlon.org for live results.
Winter Triathlon World Cup circuit will finish in Kuopio, Finland next Saturday
The Winter Triathlon World Cup circuit has visited 6 countries in the first 6 races (Vuokatti/FIN; Freudenstat/GER; Valberg/FRA; Liechtenstein; Schilpario/ITA and Sjusjoen/NOR) and the final World Cup podiums are still open for a group of athletes:
In the womens field, the World Championship title won by the German Sigrid Lang, ensures to her the 1st position in the final rankings of the World Cup. There are 5 women with possibilities to fill the other positions on the podium. They are Jutta Schubert, GER, current 2nd; Gabi Pauli, GER, 3rd; Carina Wasle, AUT, 4th; Sarka Grabmullerova, CZE 5th and Camilla Hott Johansen, NOR, 7th. All of them have chance to get medals.
Among the men the situation is different. The top 3 are almost determined: Antonioli from Italy, and Holme and Post, both from Norway. There is a small chance for the Austrian Sigi Bauer to be on the podium. Any of the first three could be 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the final rankings.
Therefore Kuopio ITU Winter Triathlon World Cup Final is expected to be a really exciting race. Stay tuned to know the end of the story. According to the final ranking the top 5 men and women will share 8.000 US$ prize purse, funded by ITU.
Click here for the latest ranking.
tagsalf roger holme arne post benjamin sonntag eva nystrom sarka grabmullerova sarka grabmullerova sigrid mutscheller winter triathlon world championship series marlies penner gabi pauli