Thursday, 18 August 2011

WOC Sprint and Classic.

Tuesday saw Swedish and Swiss dominance in the Sprint distance, whilst Wednesday saw the French and Swedish triumph.

There were some disqualification-based shenanigans after the morning's qualifying races, but once they were eventually 'resolved' we were treated to a cracking final in the fast, narrow and testing streets of Chambery.
In the women's race the Swedish trio of Linnea Gustafsson, Helena Jansson and Lena Eliasson swept the medals, finishing 25 seconds clear of 4th place. For GB Sarah Rollins finished in 13th place, 1.07 back, with Tessa Hill and Hollie Orr finishing in 22nd and 26th respectively.
Linnea Gustaffson, Helena Jansson and Lena Eliasson (from
In the men's race the Swiss Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Mueller were separated by the Swiss-based Swede Anders Holmberg. Hubmann was 26 seconds clear, with 4th placed brit Graham Gristwood being 17 seconds off the medals. In a great GB performance GG was backed up by Scott Fraser in 9th (having initially been DQ'd from the quali he only found out he'd made the final with an hour or so to spare) and Murray Strain in 12th. Swede favourite Jerker Lysell let the pressure get to him and missed out control 18 entirely.
Daniel Hubmann (from

Classic Distance.
In the men's race the French compounded their superiority in qualification with Thierry Gueorgiou taking  Gold by 4:27, and Francois Gonon taking Bronze, Finland's Pasi Ikonen separating the 2. Gonon's medal is quite impressive - starting 6mins ahead of Gueorgiou he made a big mistake early on and was passed by his compatriot. However, some superb splits followed, allowing him to get back together with Tero and they worked together all the way to the finish. The winning time of 1:47 was more than 10minutes longer than expected on a challenging course in sweltering conditions.
It wasn't such a great day for the Brits with Doug Tullie and Oli Johnson suffering to finish outside the top 30.
(men's map with GPS playback of the runners is available here)

In the women's race Annika Bilstam (Swe) ran a fantastic race and took Gold with a 4:28 gap back to Dana Brozkova (Cze), Helena Jansson (Swe) picking up her 2nd medal of the championships with Bronze. Podium Potentials Minna Kauppi (Fin) and Emma Claesson( Swe) both made big mistakes en-route to control #1, the former giving up and returning to the finish and the later finishing well down the final results. The British Trio of Helen Palmer, Rachael Rothman and Claire Ward finished between 23rd and 31st in another tough, overplanned course.

Middle and Relay Predictions.
The vast majority of the big names have made it through to the final on Friday, although Pasi Ikonen (Fin) and Heidi Bagstevold (Nor) missed out in qualification. Picking winners proves difficult, but Theirry Gueorgiou must be favourite to become the first man to win middle and long at the same WOC. Challenges will come from Peter Oberg (Swe), Reigning champion Carl Waaler Kaas (Nor), Anders Nordberg (Nor) and Valentin Novikov (Rus) although Oberg will have an advantage having not raced the long final. GBR's Matt Crane and Graham Gristwood both qualified, but Oli Johnson missed out.
In the Women's race the Swedish Trio of Jansson, Billstam and Eliasson will be challenged by Kauppi (Fin), Brozkova (Cze), Rantanan (Fin) and Andersen (Nor). GB's Hollie Orr and Rachael Rothman qualified well, with Claire Ward missing out.

As for the Relays, Sweden will be challenged by Finland and Cze in the women's, with Norway being an outsider. In the men's France will be big favourites, but Sweden, Norway, Russia and Switzerland will also field strong teams. GB have a good chance of good results in both.

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