It began in Quarteira in Portugal back in April and for many triathletes the European season will come full circle and end, once again, in Turkey at the ITU Premium European Cup final in Alanya.
The host venue for the 2013 European Championships witnessed a frantic end to the season last year and 2012 promises to be no different, with European ranking points available and a number of athletes in the mix to be number one.
President of the Turkish Triathlon Federation, Hamdi Güneș, is delighted the showpiece event is once again being held in Alanya.
He said: “The Turkish Triathlon Federation have prepared very well for our race in Alanya which is our 22nd edition. We are very happy to work together with Alanya Municipality.
“Alanya will host the final races for the 2nd time this year. We are proud and happy for this because this indicates to us that triathlon is developing in Turkey.
“At the same time we will make the last rehearsal of the 2013 European Championships. We aim for high participation, success and satisfaction.”
Mr Güneș was also keen to praise the development of the Turkish athletes in 2012, many of whom will take part in this weekends races.
He said: “2012 was an important year for Turkish Triathletes in development and progress. They competed in European Cups and increased their experience. We expect that they will continue to improve and feature at the top of rankings in future events.”
Elite Women Preview
In the Elite Women’s race, Irina Abysova (RUS) and Yuliya Yeslistratova (UKR) will do battle on the field and in the rankings.
Abysova currently leads Yelistratova by over 200 points. The pair have a gap of almost 600 back to Elena Danilova so it is likely this year’s European No.1 Female athlete will come from this pair.
With double points available, Danilova has an outside chance of breaking into the top two but will need her opponents to have an off day.
Abysova finished 2nd here last year and an 8th place finish at the European Championships and a third place at Holten have been her season highlights.
Yelistratova is coming into form at the tail end of the season. A third placed finish at the Mondello sprint followed a win in the Asian Cup. She scored three podium finishes this year in total and was third in Alanya last year.
She said: “Last year I was third and I believe I’ll keep the top 3 position this year. There is a small possibility for me to finish the season as a leader, because Irina is also racing in Alanya and supposed to get additional points.
“But I’m satisfied with my current position by now and don’t feel any pressure.
“I like a lot racing in Alanya and I’m glad to come back this year. I’ll do my best to finish on the podium again.”
The biggest movement in the rankings should be from 3rd to 10th, where only 200 points separate these positions.
Russian duo Inna Tsyganok and Evgenia Sukhoruchenkova are ready to pounce, they currently lie 5th and 6th respectively.
Alexandra Razarenova (RUS – U23 Champion) and Mariya Shorets (RUS) will be hunting down a top ten finish.
Throw in the likes of Maria Czesnik (POL) and Radka Vodickova (CZE) into the mix and it all adds up to a potentially explosive race, the perfect end to the season.
Elite Men Preview
The Elite Men’s race is also delicately poised with ranking titles and points set to play havoc with the final year standings.
Last year’s No.1, Danylo Sapunov (UKR), currently leads the way, but his apprentice, Yegor Martynenko (UKR), is close behind in second place and both athletes will go head to head in Alanya.
Ivan Vasiliev (RUS) is in third and could possibly make up the gap if results go his way
Places in the top ten are also up for grabs with Andrey Brukhankov, Ivan Tutukin (both RUS) desperate to be in the shake up.
But GBR’s Matthew Sharp, U23 World Champion in 2011 and a European Cup winner in Geneva last year, is in the starting lineup and alongside Ireland’s Conor Murphy will be a contender.
Sapunov has rarely been out of the top 8 in his races all season, only his results at the London Olympics and European Championships have let him down.
But he has three podiums and his consistency has put him to the top of the rankings.
He said: “To remain a leader this season, I have to finish in the top five in Alanya. I finished 5th here last year so I hope I can finish just as high.”