Olympic stars dominated the Karlovy Vary spa centre, where the Olympic Triathlon World Cup race took place on Sunday 11 September. Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann and France’s Leonie Periault, bronze medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, were victorious. The best Czechs were Tereza Zimovjanova (10th) and Jan Volár (24th).
The Karlovy Vary spa centre welcomed the prestigious World Cup race in Olympic triathlon for the sixth time. Thousands of fans who surrounded the course considered to be the most beautiful and the most difficult in the World Triathlon calendar, were driving forward not only the Czech representatives. “The fans were great and helped me a lot, especially on the hard climb,” said Jan Volár. “The whole race had an amazing atmosphere,” confirmed Leonie Periault.
Zimovjanová in the TOP10
After the 1500m swim, which took place in the Rolava Lake, the only Czech participant in the women’s race was only 41st. She lost one minute forty-five to the fastest swimmer. A group of five female triathletes, including Periault and World Championship race winner Summer Rappaport, entered the 40 km long cycling course first.
Zimovjanova got into the third group, which she then managed to chase up the riders in front of her to form a large second group. “The beginning of the bike was very tough, but then it was a more relaxed pace and I could save a bit of energy for the run,” Zimovjanova described. Her group of 19 was unable to erase the gap to the leaading pack during the seven laps leading through the beautiful spa centre and entered the second transition area one minute down.
With an excellent run, Zimovjanova then moved forward. On the ten-kilometre course leading around the Carlsbad colonnades she even attacked the eighth place! “The last of the four laps was very difficult, I was getting cramps and two rivals overtook me. But in the end I am satisfied because I had the top ten as my goal,” she smiled. “I also really enjoyed the race thanks to the great spectators, who are always amazing in Vary. The spectators were shouting, banging on the barriers, so much that you couldn’t hear anything over the noise,” she added.
French triathlete Leonie Periault took the victory, Italian Bianca Seregni took silver and American Summer Rappaport took bronze.
“It was a wonderful race! Karlovy Vary has a beautiful course and the whole city is amazing. The course here is very difficult due to the seven challenging climbs, but that’s exactly what suits me,” Periault smiled.
Volár best among Czech triathletes
A packed field of 70 competitors entered the men’s race, which also included four Czechs. Varga from Slovakia was the first to run out of the water of the Rolava Lake after the swimming section. David Martin was 27th, Jan Volár 31st, Tomas Zikmund 45th and Radim Grebik 59th.
In the first laps of the cycling course, a group of 21 riders formed in the lead, which seemed to be at a close reach for Jan Volár. “I cycled the whole opening passage on the flat alone, but because of that I didn’t have enough strength left for the climb where we could catch them. I’m sorry because if I had got there, I would have fought for completely different positions in the rest of the race,” said Volár.
He joined the second large group, which held positions 22nd to 45th. There he worked together with Martin and Grebik – they arrived at the second transition area with a loss of about 40 seconds. Tomáš Zikmund gradually dropped off during the bike section and rode with a big loss at the back of the field. He withdrew from the race before the run.
Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann was the first to fire into the running section, and he stayed in the lead with American Matthew McElroy and Germany’s Lasse Lührs. It was only in the last hundred metres that the Hungarian triathlete decided his triumph. McElroy took the silver and the bronze went to the German triathlete.
“I dreamed of this moment. I really like the Karlovy Vary course, that’s why I’ve been racing here for the third year in a row,” Lehmann smiled at the finish line. “We worked really hard on the bike to keep our lead over the second group. Then I knew that in the run it was going to be really hard against McElroy and Lührs because they are great runners. That’s why I thought I would try to start in the last hundred metres, which I did.”
Volár entered the 10km race in great style as he was able to move quickly through the field ahead. “It wasn’t quite the same in the last lap, so I lost one position again, but I still feel that I couldn’t have done more in the run today,” said Volár, who was the best Czech triathlete for the second time in a row in Karlovy Vary. After last year’s 15th place, he is now 24th.
Two other Czech athletes finished right behind him – Grebík crossed the finish line in front of a packed grandstand as 41st, David Martin was 42nd at the finish line on Theatre Square.
Triathlon World Cup, Karlovy Vary, 11th September
Men: 1. Csongor Lehmann (HUN) 1:51:10, 2. Matthew McElroy (USA) 1:51:20, 3. Lasse Lührs (GER.) 1:51:42 … 24. Jan Volár 1:54:18, 41. Radim Grebík 1:57:49, 42. David Martin 1:58:20
Women: 1. Leonie Periault (FRA) 2:05:04, 2. Bianca Seregni (ITA.) 2:05:46, 3. Summer Rappaport (USA) 2:06:29 … 10. Tereza Zimovjanová 2:07:30
Complete results here.