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Spanish long-course triathlon standouts Eneko Llanos and Virginia Berasategui headline a top-notch field at this weekend’s ETU Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Country.
Llanos is from Vitoria-Gasteiz and is no doubt looking forward to racing in front of a friendly crowd. The Spaniard made a name for himself in 2008 when he finished second to Craig Alexander at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. He has since won numerous high-profile triathlons including the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon and the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Triathlon this year. Llanos took top honours at the 2003 ITU Long Distance World Championships, also held in Spain. He is perhaps best known for his off-road talent and has won the Xterra Triathlon World Championship in Maui, Hawaii on three occasions, including last year.
Llanos will have plenty of tough competition coming to defeat him on his home turf this weekend. Other top long-course athletes on the start list are Denmark’s Jimmy Johnsen and Martin Jensen, South African Raynard Tissink and Portugal’s Sergio Marques.
Click here for the complete men’s start list.
Berasategui also hails from the Basque Country and is the reigning ETU Long Distance Champion. At last year’s championships in Prague, the Spaniard dominated her competition, winning by more than eight minutes. Berasategui also won the 2003 ITU Long Distance Championship. She finished third at the Ironman World Championship last year, the best finish ever by a Spanish woman.
Looking to keep Berasategui from earning a repeat win will be Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow (the reigning ITU Long Distance World Champion), Italy’s Martina Dogana and Edith Niederfriniger, Finland’s Tiina Bowman and Denmark’s Lisbeth Kristensen.
Athletes competing in the event will face a 4-km swim, 120-km bike and 30-km run. The finish line will be located inside the Fernando Buesa Arena, home of the Caja Laboral basketball team. The event begins at 8:00 am local time on Saturday 26 June. Vitoria Gasteiz was recently announced as the host of the 2012 ITU Long Distance World Championships.
Race preview provided by ITU.