The Turkish municipality of Yenişehir in the district of Greater Mersin, Southern Turkey was the Easter Sunday host for the latest round of the 2022 Europe Triathlon Cup series.
The Yenişehir event followed up on previous races this year in Lievin (France – indoor), Quarteira (Portugal) and Melilla (Spain). The race even featured two days of live coverage through TriathlonLIVE, including Saturday’s Junior Triathlon Cup races too. Very impressive, especially considering this was a first time Europe Triathlon Cup host.
Elite Women: Neubert sprints to victory
While Sara Vilic (AUT) – a WTCS podium finisher back in 2017 – led the way through the opening (wetsuit-legal) 750m swim, she had a long line of athletes just seconds behind her.
There were briefly two groups of riders on the the road in the early stages, but when the chase pack merged with the leaders on the first of three bike laps, a large group of around 20 athletes formed. With flat and fast roads, breakaway opportunities were certainly going to be difficult. Great Britain’s Issy Morris, in her first Europe Triathlon race since 2019, was safely in that large lead pack – perhaps with thoughts of Commonwealth Games qualification for Wales on her mind. Getting back to scoring World Triathlon Rankings points can only help in that regard.
While 20+ athletes arrived at T2 together, that soon blew apart in the opening couple of minutes of the pan-flat 5km run course.
Roksana Slupek (POL), Nora Gmür (SUI), Tanja Neubert (GER), Fina Shierl (GER) and Romana Gajdošová (SVK) were soon clear as a leading five, before Gajdošová made a big move at the first turnaround after 1.25km and pulled clear. Had she timed her move correctly? Previously a multiple Slovakian Triathlon champion, Gajdošová had never previously made a Europe Triathlon Cup podium – her previous best was a fourth place, also in Turkey (Balıkesir) last year.
It wasn’t decisive however, and Neubert, Gmür and Slupek bridged back on lap two. Neubert pushed on… before Gmür and Slupek fought back again. This was going to be a cracking finish. Just as it looked as though Neubert was going to be caught, the blue carpet seemed to give her some extra energy and she held strong to take a narrow win, the best result of her short career so far.
Post-race, she said: “I’m very happy with the race – it was a tough run and I’m very happy to take my first win in a European Cup. I hoped to make a podium… I felt good on the second lap of the run.”
Gajdošová’s efforts ended with a fourth place finish, with Issy Morris rounding out the top five.
Elite Men: Jawad’s the way to do it
There was a huge field of around 70 athletes lining up on the beach for the Elite Men’s race – and a little more than eight minutes of swimming later, not surprisingly there was very little to separate the majority. Mateusz Gluszkowski (POL) was first over the swim timing mat, but the long line of athletes following in close order meant that was going to be of little importance to the direction of this race.
Three fast and flat laps on the bike followed and a huge group of athletes set to work on cranking up the pace. In amongst them were Joao Pereira (POR) – winner of WTS London in 2014, Csonger Lehman, the U23 World Champion from Hungary, World Triathlon Cup winner, Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR) and many more.
The 19 year-old Brit Hamish Reilly made an aggressive attempt to break away on lap one, but with that volume and quality of athletes in a huge lead group, he could not make it stick. Much like the Elite Women’s race earlier, even from an early stage it was surely building towards a quick T2 and fast final 5km being key to success. With two dead turns on each of the three laps, positioning on the bike was going to be key approaching transition.
Approaching T2 the pace was really on, evidenced by a long line of athletes approaching the dismount line. How many – 30? 40? Maybe more. Game on for a fast 5km to determine the podium.
As the race took shape on the run, the speedy feet of Abdelmoula were setting the pace, with Pereira, Lehman, Nathan Greyal (FRA) and Henry Graf (GER) in close order as they started the second and final run lap along the coastal pathway.
At the final turn with just over a kilometre to go, those five athletes were still locked together with no clear favourite. Pereira was the first athlete to fall off the pace with Abdelmoula, perhaps, looking the freshest. The Moroccan athlete continued to apply the pressure and his long stride started to pull away… only for Csonger and Graf to react.
Mirroring the women’s race, the blue carpet appeared to be the extra motivation which Abdelmoula needed. Once he reached that, he wasn’t going to give up the lead, and crossed the line just two seconds ahead of the Hungarian U23 World Champion. Graf completed the podium, while a late penalty to be served by Greyel wasn’t enough to allow the fading Pereira to pass him in sight of the line.
Europe Triathlon Cup Yenişehir Results 2022
Sunday April 17, 2022 – 750m / 20km / 5km
- 1. Tanja Neubert (GER) – 57:27
- 2. Nora Gmür (SUI) – 57:29
- 3. Roksana Slupek (POL) – 57:31
- 4. Romana Gajdošová (SVK) – 57:42
- 5. Issy Morris (GBR) – 57:44
- 1. Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR) – 51:10
- 2. Csonger Lehman (HUN) 51:12
- 3. Henry Graf (GER) – 51:14
- 4. Nathan Grayel (FRA) – 51:25
- 5. Joao Pereira (POR) – 51:28