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As the Olympic Winter Games gain momentum, ITU’s winter triathletes are making their own preparations for the most important weekend in winter triathlon. After the successful European Championships in Lygna in last weekend, Norway again plays host to the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships. The event is scheduled from Friday to Sunday in the beautiful town of Eidsvoll, located close to the capital Oslo.
In the previous three years Norway has had a clean sweep of gold medals in the men’s field. Both the defending world champion Tor Halvor Bjornstad and the former two-time world champion Arne Post will do their best to keep the gold from leaving Norway. However their biggest rival comes from their Scandinavian neighbors Sweden. Andreas Svenebo claimed his third European title with convincing win last weekend. Svenebo looked in ominous form in Lygna, and it will be tough to see the Swede being surpassed in Lygna if he maintains his fitness. However, there is a strong field all looking to knock Norway off the podium. The Italian Daniel Antonioli bronze medallist in 2009, the veteran Sigi Bauer from Austria and the Russian Pavel Andreev all are potential medal winners.
“I expect much of the same as the European Championships,” former world champion Arne Post said. “Svanebo will be the big favourite. Then it will be interesting to see if Daniel Antonioli (ITA), Pavel Andreev (RUS), Tor Halvor Bjørnstad (NOR) or I can challenge him more than we did in Lygna. I think Bjørnstad will be better, as he wants to defend his title. And if he can cut his losses on the running, he will be a big threat to the gold medal.”
A strong women’s field compromising of all the medallists from 2009 will take to the start line on Saturday. The reigning world champion from Austria Carina Wastle opted to skip the European championships, last weekend, instead focusing on this weekend’s race. Wastle will need to improve her form if she is to retain her title, missing the podium at the Zell am See ITU Winter Triathlon World Cup three weeks ago. Last year’s silver medallist and home favourite Hanne Tronnes is looking to work together with her team mates, the newly crowned European Champion Marthe K Myhre, and the former European Champion Camilla Hott Johansen in order to make it a home win for Norway. However it’s not just a European affair Norwegians with US athletes Emma Gerrard and Rebecca Dussault realistic competitors for the medal positions.
The weather and the snow conditions are perfect for the weekend. The temperature was measured at minus 10-14 °C in the afternoon on Thursday. The bike course is predicted to be challenging with plenty of technical turn and some steep assents and descents expected, on a snowy surface. This will be finalised closer to the race.
Post however is not worried, predicting that the home course advantage will give him an edge. “The run will be easier than in Lygna and the cross country skiing will be about the same. The cycling can be just as hard as Lygna or a bit easier depending on the conditions and which route they choose. If the course will be the same as at the Norwegian National Championship a few weeks ago, it will suit me well”.
The individual races are scheduled for Saturday with the team events set for Sunday. ITU will bring you race stories, results and photo galleries from the event. Video highlights of the race will also be available on Tuesday February 15th.
Click here for a full race schedule and start lists.
It’s the second time in the history of the ITU Winter Triathlon that the Norway has organised the world since 1997. The president of the Norwegian Triathlon Federation Kåre J. Grotta has been instrumental in the organisation of the event with huge support from the local club, Eidsvoll Sykkelklubb and Royal Sport.
Race preview provided by Triathlon.org.