In the Men’s Elite race, four time winner, and reigning European Champion, Andreas Svanebo (SWE) will not be competing. This opens the door for a new champion and perhaps 2013 will be Daniel Antonioli’s year?
The Italian did not finish outside the podium in six winter races in 2012 but unfortunately could only claim one victory and he was runner up to Svanebo in Valsesia at the European Championships.
Reigning World Champion Pavel Andreev (RUS) will be out to retain his European crown. The 2011 European Champion finished a disappointing 8th last year and will be out to make amends.
Fellow Russian Maxim Kuzmin will also be a threat. The 2011 U23 Champion finished 4th in his first Elite European Championship race and that experience should stand him in good stead for a stronger challenge this year.
Allan Aoras (EST) offers the best prospects for the host nation. Aoras is a European Champion in the Mountain Bike marathon championships will use all of his experience on this terrain and a podium finish would be an excellent result.
In the Women’s Elite race, Helena Erbenova (CZE) does return to defend her European title.
Erbenova shocked the Triathlon world when she became European and World Champion in her debut season. Her opponents will not be caught off guard this year and defending her title’s will be a difficult job, particularly with the likes of Norwegian duo Borghild Løvset and Hanne Trønnes on the start line.
Løvset knows more than most how difficult it is to defend titles. Like Erbenova, Løvset did the European and World Championship double in 2011 but could only finish 2nd and 3rd respectively in last year’s competitions.
Reigning Junior Winter Triathlon European Champion Pavel Eliseev moved up to the U23 category this year and will start as one of the favourites to win again. Sander Linnus (EST) is a real prospect for the home crowd.
The Women’s U23 event should be an intriguing race between a small and competitive field. Margarita Ovsyannikva (RUS) was third in this event last year and will look to go one better but Ilaria Titone was third in the 2012 Junior European race and, despite making the step up to U23, she should provide a stern test for Ovsyannikva.