Maiden win for Mairhofer while Andreev claims another winter triathlon victory in Asiago
11 men and 8 women lined up this Friday at the Centro Fondo Campolongo for the opening race of the 2021 season: the Asiago World Triathlon Winter Cup. 7.2 km of running, 12 km of MTB cycling and 10 km of cross-country skiing on a completely snow-covered track that ended up with Russian King of winter triathlon Pavel Andreev claiming one more title, while Italian Sandra Mairhofer delighted the local crowds to cross the finish line in the first place.
The race started with Italian Franco Pesavento taking the lead in the first meters of the run course, followed at a short distance by Sebastian Neef (GER). A little further back another Italian, Daniel Antonioli, was trying to stay in touch, but right behind the leading trio, the Russians Andreev and Dimitriy Bregeda, appeared to be in full control of the race. And it was right when the men jumped on their bikes when the seven times world champion Andreev showed his cards.
Quickly he and his teammate Bregeda took the lead, with Neerf staying close in third, and leaving all to be decided in the last leg, over the skis.
Andreev started strong and managed to open a decent break over Bregeda and Neerf, and Pesavento really close in fourth place fighting for the podium. Showing his experience with the cross country skis, Andreev flied to another solo triumph, while Neerf surprised all with a powerful final sprint to claim the silver medal, and Pesavento managing to pass Bregeda in the last meters to claim a precious third place in the podium. Fourth place was Bregeda, while Antonioli closed the top five of the race.
“Today was a magnificent race for me, with constant changes between climbs and descents”, said Andreev. “After the bike, which I finished in the lead, things went well for me, but victory on such a track is never taken for granted, even if I did well on skis, managing my energies better. It is always a pleasure to compete here in Asiago, today I had an excellent test in view of the next international races of the season ”.
Bronze medallist Pesavento said: “I started strong and arrived well in the transition area, I held up well on the bike and I knew I had improved on the skis: today I really gave my best and managed to catch an important podium position, putting the Russian Bregeda behind me. After the first lap on skis I realized that today could be my day and I really believed I could win the medal: the first time the World Cup as an elite and the medal immediately arrived: now a recovery day before returning to race for the Italian championships “.
With the current world champion absent in Asiago, the women’s race was more open than ever. And it was a local, Italian Sandra Mairhofer, who decided to go hard from the beginning, only followed by Romanian Maria Luiza Rasina, who managed to jump on her bike in first place. But as soon as the Italian was on her bike, she showed her skills in the snow to open up a significant break, enough to allow her a solo victory after the 10 km with the skis.
Second in the finish line was the Austrian Romana Slanivec, while Rasina managed to claim the bronze medal, with a podium that for the first time in many years, had no Russians. The current European champion and U23 world champion, Svetlana Sokolova (RUS) finished in fourth place and Carina Wasle (AUT) finished in 5th place.
“The race was really tough, it was a really nice surprise to be able to beat such strong opponents”, said the winner, Sandra Mairhofer. “This track adapts to my characteristics, I don’t deny it, but I realized that it could only be my day in MTB, when I saw that the advantage increased. On the skis I held up well, behind they went very fast, for what I had to push to the finish and stay very focused. Sunday is back on track, I have to defend the Italian title ”.