For the second consecutive year, Andorra’s Pyrenees mountains will provide a dramatic stage for the World Triathlon Winter Championships as the world’s best run-bike-ski triathletes head out on the snow this weekend chasing the 2022 world titles.
The Naturlandia course takes in a 3-lap snow run totalling 8.1km, before transitioning to a 13.2km mountain bike also across three snow-covered laps and onto the two-lap, 6km ski. Two key changes to the rules will standout for athletes and audiences alike in Andorra, however. Firstly, a doubling of the individual race run-bike-ski format means there will be five equipment transitions, with the run, mountain bike and ski being repeated.
Secondly, in Sunday’s mixed team relay, the men will assume the first and third legs and women the second and final, meaning that on Sunday – and right across the triathlon 2024 Olympic Cycle all the way to Paris – it will now be female athletes taking the tape.
Hoping to defend their 2021 world titles on Saturday will be Italy’s Sandra Mairhofer and Norway’s Hans Christian Tungesvik, both of whom were able to hold off strong challenges from Russia’s multiple title-winners Daria Rogozina and Pavel Andreev and wow the crowds 12 months ago, while Romania’s Tokyo 2020 Olympian Felix Duchampt makes his winter triathlon debut.
You can watch Saturday’s men’s and women’s triathlon action on TriathlonLive.tv from 8am GMT
Saturday, 8am GMT
It was on this very course that Italy’s national champion Sandra Mairhofer was finally able to top the world podium after a brilliant run and bike put her out of reach of the rest of the field a year ago. Since then, the 30-year-old has won gold at the European XTERRA championships and silver in the World Cross Triathlon Championships and will be eager to get off to another strong start on her return to the snow, up against some expert skiers.
Sure to be among those hot on her heels will be the Russian Triathlon Federation trio of former World Champions Yuliya Surikova and Daria Rogozina and previous U23 winner Svetlana Sokolova.
Rogozina, who won the elite title as an U23 athlete in 2019 in Asiago, successfully defended that title a year later thanks in no small part to her brilliance on the mountain bike. Strong across all three disciplines, this could be her time to shine once again.
Surikova, who last won the title back in 2018, has been on the elite circuit for 15 years and knows she will need one of the best runs of her career if she is to challenge once more here, and rival Maria Luisa Rasina (ROU) has the run and ski ability to mount a serious challenge if she can hold ground on the bike.
Elite debuts for former AG World Champion Lorena Erl (GER) and Stina Meinicke (NOR) bring some unpredictability to the proceedings, and another Norwegian, Elisabeth Sveum, shone in the Mixed Relay last year and is a powerful bike-skier with the potential to go all the way to the top of the world.
In the U23 race, last year’s Junior Champion Julie Meinicke (NOR) will hope for a successful step up, though the 2021 silver medalist Olga Cheremisinova (RTF) will again undoubtedly be one to watch.
Saturday, 10.45am GMT
It was an outstanding ski segment from Hans Christian Tungesvik (NOR) 12 months ago that finally broke the decade-long grip Pavel Andreev (RTF) had held over men’s winter triathlon, the talented Norwegian coming from nowhere to win the gold in his first winter world championships.
Of course, an 8-time world champion like Andreev was never going to be too far behind at the line, and he will be eager to exact some revenge this time around in what looks set to be an almighty battle between the two.
Bronze medalist in 2021, the hugely experienced Giuseppe Lamastra will certainly be ready for another taste of the podium, while Franco Pesavento (ITA), like Tungesvik, will want need to have plenty left in the tank from the previous day’s duathlon exertions, but will have valuable knowledge of the conditions as a result.
Romania’s Viorel Palici already has European bronze to his name and, along with Spaniard Pello Osoro and Germany’s Asiago Winter Cup silver medalist Sebastian Neef, will be among the names looking to convert solid past world championship displays into medal-winning performances.
For Romania’s Felix Duchampt, Andorra is a far cry from the humidity of the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished 36th, and the talented triathlete, with multiple World Cup podiums to his name, will be ready for the new challenge.
“It will be my first time racing winter triathlon so I’m not sure what to expect and the level of the competition,” he said. “I used to race in cross-country skiing back in my younger days so I will try to find my technique back and use that as an advantage. I am expecting it to be completely different to Olympic-distance triathlon, I feel like winter triathlon will be 90 minutes of non-stop threshold.”
In the men’s U23 race, 2021 champion Mattia Tanara (ITA) bids to retain his title with Czech Adam Holomoucky and another triathlete more used to swim-bike-run, Ian Pennekamp (NED), also hunting glory in the Pyrenees.
For the full line ups across all the race formats, click here.