Allez Les Bleus! It was all about France on Saturday at the Elite Men’s race at the European Triathlon Championships in Munich.
A fast swim split the field, a breakaway on the bike could not be caught – and then it was Leo Bergere who lead the way home.
Devay forces a breakaway
Another picture perfect day in Munich’s Olympiapark welcomed the Elite Men of the 2022 European Championships. Could they match the excitement that the Elite Women delivered on Friday?
Hungary’s Mark Devay was soon to the front of the non-wetsuit swim and the pace was clearly seriously quick from the start. Even after 750m the field was split, and along with teammate Csongor Lehman – the 2021 U23 World Champion – team Hungary pushed on strongly and led into T2.
They had Tim Hellwig (GER), Dorian Coninx (GBR), Alois Knabl (AUT), Jonas Schomburg (GER), Nicola Azzano (ITA) and Miguel Tiago Silva (POR) within 11 seconds. Two more top French athletes, Pierre Le Corre and Leo Bergere, were also seemingly set to be part of any early bike breakaway.
Quality athletes including Jelle Geens (BEL), Mario Mola (ESP) and Richard Murray (NED) were already a minute back, with the quintet of British athletes also going to have to chase hard to get back towards the head of affairs.
And then there were 12
After that tough swim, the front pack on the bike comprised of 12 athletes who at the end of lap two (of eight), had built themselves an advantage of 50 seconds. The leading dozen comprised of Bergere, Coninx, Le Corre (France) Hellwig and Schomburg (Germany), Knabl (Austria), Lehmann and Devay (Hungary), Simon Westermann (Switzerland), Tiago Silva and Joao Pereira (Portugal) and Azzano (Italy).
As the chasing groups behind merged, more than 30 athletes were together at the halfway mark on the bike, but still 54 seconds on what was a top quality breakaway.
The leading 12 were riding well, and the gaps were barely changing. A few seconds up and down, but with several WTCS winners, European and World Champions in that top quality dozen, the large chase group were hardly making a dent on their deficit. For fast runners like Geens, his efforts on the front of the chase group were reflective of the danger he knew was a minute or so up the road.
As with the women’s race yesterday, the chasers did make up time on the final lap – but would still start the run 45 seconds back.
LB leads Les Bleus
While the French trio were 1/2/3 out onto the run, once the first hill was crested, the leading five were Pereira, Lehmann, Bergere, Le Corre and Schomburg. The German didn’t stay there for long, and soon it was a leading four under blue skies and sunshine, cheered on by huge crowds at the site of the 1972 Olympic Games.
Twelfth at the end of lap one was Geens, who was the fastest runner on the course – but he would need to increase his rate of capture if he was going to challenge for the win. He wasn’t out of contention yet.
The defending European Champion from Valencia 2021, Dorian Coninx, got himself back to the leading group up the hill on lap two, perhaps invoking the spirit of Non Stanford yesterday. From dropped on the run to leading the race, Munich was delivering again. Going the other way however was Joao Pereira , who couldn’t stay with the pace, which left a leading quarter of U23 World Champion, Csonger Lehmann (Hungary), and the three French stars.
Geens was up to eighth at the midpoint of the run, but was still 34 seconds back. He would need to find something truly special over the final 5km to contend. 2.5km later, that miracle was not going to happen.
Leo Bergere, the Mr Consistent of the World Triathlon Championship Series pulled clear, with 2018 European Champion, Pierre Le Corre, looking safe in second place.. If France were going to sweep the podium, it would all come down to a stride-for-stride battle between Coninx and Lehmann.
For all his consistency, Bergere’s C.V. largely is filled with 2nd / 3rd / 4th places – but not today. He would take the 2022 European Championship title, a well deserved reward for his progress over the last couple of years.
Le Corre added Munich 2022 silver to his Glasgow 2018 gold – and thanks to the fine finishing speed of Coninx, the podium flags would all feature the tricolour colours of the impressive French team.
European Championships Munich 2022 Results
Saturday 13 August 2022 – 1.5km / 40km / 10km
- 1. Leo Bergere (FRA) – 1:41:09
- 2. Dorian Coninx (FRA) – 1:41:17
- 3. Pierre Le Corre (FRA) – 1:41:24
- 4. Csongor Lehmann (HUN) – 1:41:30
- 5. Jelle Geens (BEL) – 1:41:39
- 6. Joao Pereira (POR) – 1:41:49
- 7. Jonas Schomburg (GER) – 1:42:08
- 8. Michele Sarzilla (ITA) – 1:42:33
- 9. Simon Westermann (SUI) – 1:42:39
- 10. Bence Bicsak (HUN) – 1:42:46-