Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Marathon World Cup in Denmark (part I): Spanish Iván Alonso claims gold in K1

Last weekend was held at Lake Bagsværd (Copenhague, Denmark) the Marathon World Cup 2012, as a prelude for the Marathon World Championships that will take place at the same spot next year 2013, getting the relay from Rome 2012. And once again, Spain had a strong presence in the final standings, claiming gold in both main categories, the senior Men K1 and K2, through Iván Alonso and the couple Walter Bouzán-Álvaro Fiuza, current world champions for two years in a row. But despite some absences, like South Africa or Hungary, the battle was hard, with many tight endings along the weekend.

On the right, Morten Minde (NOR) leads a crowded group at Lake Bagsværd

With an early start on Saturday, the juniors already gave the crowd a nice race. In the K1 Men, seven boats were in a close fight for the whole race, but finally finished with a sprint between the four on the lead and medals went to Casper Pretzmann (DEN), gold; Miguel Llorens (ESP), silver; and Hynek Chroust (CZE), bronze. In the Women race, another local victory in a tight finish, with Amalie Thomsen (DEN) claiming gold, Amy Ward (GBR) went for silver and Carolina Massagues (ESP) took bronze.

After the juniors it was turn for the canoeists. In a pretty windy day, some had troubles, most of all at turns and the portage entry, where wind blowed sidewards. Then, current U23 world champion, Spanish Manuel Garrido, fell in the water and had to give up, while Nuno Barros (POR) showed a strong performance that finally gave him a comfortable gold medal, followed by Matthias Erbhardt (GER) in silver and Jakub Brezina (CZE) in bronze.

Good superiority also at the Senior Women K1 for young Italian promise Stefania Cicali, who took gold with a minute and a half over the local Birgit Pontoppidan (DEN), taking silver ahead of another Italian taking bronze, Anna Alberti.

Photo: © Jens Thybo
It was then time for the main dish on Saturday, the Senior Men K1. Strong contestants at the starting line in a fresh and windy afternoon. With seven and a half laps ahead, the start was frenzy from Neil Fleming (IRL) and Luca Piemonte (ITA). Behind them, the fight was hard looking for the good wash and those losing it tried to open wide to clear water. That made the first lap very quickly, but actually, coming back to the first portage, a large bunch of 13 boats was established. Even though, he first one having troubles to keep the pace and always looking like losing contact was local veteran star Rene Olsen, who finally showed everybody at the venue how important it is to keep mind cold in such a long race.

Lap after lap, the group was losing components, even being a six K1 group who looked solid to push away, but they were always caught up again when returning down the lap. Too many strong people to let the things go so easy. Definitely, Neil Fleming (IRL), Iván Alonso (ESP), Morten Minde (NOR) and Borja Estomba (ESP) looked fit, turning each other on the lead, but paddlers like Tim Pendle (GBR), Lars Hjemdal (NOR), Quentin Urban (FRA) or Luca Piemonte and Matteo Graziani (ITA) were very consistant chasing again the wash. And so he was Rene Olsen, always suffering behind, but never losing more than 50 metres.

It was then when at the sixth portage, Fleming and Alonso made a quick race on the grass, showing that they didn’t want so many people around facing the finish line. And entering the water again, drama showed up for Morten Minde and Borja Estomba. They looked strong enough as a part of the four boat leading group, but Minde fell in the water and estomba smashed the rudder against the hull, starting to paddle in circles. Precious time that both lost and that allowed the prosecutors to arrive and start paddling before they could do anything about it. And surprisingly, two kayaks were now in the chase of the leaders: Rene Olsen and the young Lars Hjemdal, who managed to overpass in the portage the tired Italians, Urban, Pendle, Odvarko…
Iván Alonso - Foto: © Stefan ACKERL

That way, two neck to neck sprints were going to decide the medals. And Ivan Alonso (ESP) showed a strong pace in the last 500 metres, where a visibly tired Neil Fleming (IRL) could not even make a try to pass the Spaniard. Gold for Alonso, silver for Fleming and a hundred metres behind Rene Olsen (DEN) managed to claim bronze and let Lars Hjemdal (NOR) out of the podium after a superb race.

In a second part of the chronicle you may be able to read about Day 2, with all the doubles races.

You can check the results of this World Cup at this link.

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