A broken chain, a dream delayed. So it was with the Portuguese Team this morning in Zamosc, on the European MTB orienteering Championships' third day. A full day for Finland, reaching the gold in both male and the female races.
On the third day of the European Championships MTB orienteering 2013, in Zamosc (Poland), the bad luck knocked at the door of the Portuguese national team. The Relay saw João Ferreira to break the chain of his bike, the master link lost and the athlete forced to retire even before the third control. “Backfire”, claims Daniel Marques, the Portuguese Technical Director, mainly because “we were confident in our abilities and surely that, without this mischance, we could achieve our goal, a place in the top six.” To those responsible, “now is the time to raise our heads and do our best on Long Distance on the farewell to the competition.”
Those who closely follow the high wheel of MTB orienteering, knew beforehand that the fight for the victory would lock up between Finns and Russians, both in the male as in the female class. After the European titles of Leningrad in 2011, both teams of the Czech Republic would certainly have a word to say, but it seemed clear that his task was everything but easy. And the predictions were fully confirmed, with Finland to demonstrate a huge advantage before their opponents and imposing themselves in both sectors.
Finland recovers title seven years later
Forest quite dense, significant slopes and soaked terrain by the heavy rains that recently left the Central Europe "under water", to the athletes were required maximum concentration, since a mistake in these conditions are usually expensive. The truth is that the Finnish performed at a higher level and flawless, imposing to Russia by a comfortable margin. The Russians started better, with Valerii Glukhov overcome Pekka Niemi by “skinny” 18 seconds, in what was a remake of yesterday's Middle Distance race. But then Ruslan Gritsan did not "ride" to Samuli Saarela, ending Jussi Laurila by firming the victory with a record of 2:05:40, against 2:08:53 to his direct rival.
In third position stayed the second team of the Czech Republic with more 4:45 than the winners, while France achieved a surprising fourth place with a record of 2:19:00. Finland thus achieves the European title of Relay for the second time in its history, after a long fast of seven years since the first edition of the Championships, back in 2006, played... in Poland!
As for the women's race, the superiority of the Finnish team asserted itself forcefully, with the final difference for the Russia team, second placed, being of 7:13. Ingrid Stengard opened the hostilities on the best way and Marika Hara managed to extend their lead at the entrance to the decisive leg of 3:29 over Russia. But Susanna Laurila was largely responsible for expanding the difference, beating Ksenia Chernykh for a margin next to four minutes. It was consummated the fourth gold medal for Finland in six editions of the European Championships, interestingly also the fourth medal achieved by Ingrid Stengard, true mainstay of this Finnish team.
The Czech Republic was soon out of the race for the medals (Martina Tichovska been particularly unfortunate in the first leg) and eventually be Slovakia, even without the big star named Hana [Bajtosová] Garde, to win the third place and, with it, the first medal ever at the European Championships (having already reached twice the Bronze at the World Championships, in Italy 2011 and Hungary 2012). Stanislava Fajtova would like to be the other major figure of the day, she who left for the last leg in the 5th position with a handicap of four minutes to Switzerland and five minutes to Denmark, but eventually register a remarkable recovery, providing to Slovakia a victory with a special taste indeed.
Rest day ... but only for some
Tomorrow is the rest day ... but only for some. In the women's class, we'll watch the re-race of female Sprint, canceled on last Monday due to a default on the map. Follow the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013 at http://www.emtboc2013.pl/.
[Photo: Daniel Marques]