A bright and sunny Sunday welcomed the participants of the last day of competition in Naturlandia, Andorra, vying for the Winter Triathlon 2xMixed Relay both in the Elite and Junior categories. Sunday was a day of firsts in Andorra, with the teams being the first ones to officially compete under the new Relay structure, of the men starting the race and the women crossing the finish line, a structure that will be followed in all World Triathlon events until 2024. And the first woman to ever hold the tape on a Relay was Daria Rogozina, who claimed with her partner Pavel Andreev the gold medal. Second place was for the Italians Sandra Mairhofer and Franco Pesavento, while the third place was for the Norwegian team of Elizabeth Sveum and Hans Christian Tungesvik.
It was the new winter triathlon star, Franco Pesavento, the one taking the lead from the start, showing once more that he is really hard to beat when it comes to running on the snow. Only Viorel Palici (ROU) was able to keep on the pace of the Italian, with Spaniard Fernando Zorrilla Medrano close behind them. In just 1.1km they opened a breach of over 18 seconds with Pavel Andreev, the seven-times world champion. But as soon as the men were on their bikes for the first time, Andreev started to catch up with the leaders and by the time it was time for the two laps on skis, he was right behind the heels of Pesavento. The young Italian managed to tag his teammate with a few seconds lead over the Russian Triathlon Federation team, Romania hanging in third place after another magnificent ski from Palici, and Hans Christian Tungesvik catching up with the leaders.
Daria Rogozina, just crowned World Champion, started the chase immediately, and even though Mairhofer managed to stay in the lead for the first run, the moment the women were on their bikes Rogozina showed all her cards and passed the Italian to never look back. Behind them, Romania, Norway, the second team of RTF and Spain battled to stay in the game, but soon it was evident that the battle for gold would be a close one between the Italians and the Russians. When Rogozina tagged her partner, Andreev, for the second time, she was already one minute ahead of Mairhofer, and it was all to be decided in the last two legs of the race.
Pesavento knew that he was the fastest runner on the field, but the lead was too much to close the gap in only 1.1km. Andreev looked confident and relaxed in transitions, to avoid penalties like the one that forced him to be disqualified from the race the previous day, and he kept a lead of almost 30 seconds by the time he tagged for the last time Rogozina. Pesavento had the two fastest splits of the day, but it was not enough to beat the RTF team this time.
After another magnificent display in all three segments, Rogozina crossed the finish line in the first place to claim the 2022 Winter Triathlon 2x Mixed Relay, the first-ever mixed relay that has a woman crossing the finish line. Behind, an exhausted Sandra Mairhofer gave Team Italy the silver medal, while Norway’s Sveum was once again extremely powerful on the bike and ski segments, enough to give Team Norway the bronze medal.
The last effort from Maria Luisa Rasina (ROU) granted their team the chocolate medal, fourth place, with Germany and Spain following them on the finish line.
In the Junior category, it was the Norwegian team of Henrik Farstadvoll and Victoria Nitteberg who claimed the victory, with the Russian team of Semen Zakutin and Kseniia Skvortsova finishing in second place, while Spain grabbed the bronze medal, with Alvaro Lopez Lucia and Irene Moro Betrian.
Results: 2×2 Mixed Relay
1. RTF, 01:18:29
2. Italy, 01:20:25
3. Norway, 01:21:07
4. Romania, 01:23:52
5. Germany, 01:27:43
Results: 2×2 Mixed Junior Relay
1. Norway, 01:26:56
2. RTF, 01:33:20
3. Spain, 01:38:18