The elite of the world triathlon in Gdańsk

For the fourth time, Gdańsk was the arena of the LOTTO Challenge Gdańsk triathlon competition powered by PGE. Sunday’s professional competition in the prestigious Challenge Family middle distance series was won by Kacper Stępniak, who swam 1.9 km, rode a bike 90 km and ran 21.1 km in 3 hours, 40 minutes and 28 seconds. The German Julia Skala won the women’s race over the same distance (4:18:45). The best Polish woman – Ewa Komander – took 4th place (4:26:32).

Throughout the weekend, PRO athletes and amateur triathlon athletes competed in the waters of the Bay of Gdańsk, on a cycling route running, among others, tunnel under Martwa Wisła, ending the running stage at the pier in Gdańsk Brzeźno.
– Since the first edition, we have been focusing on the highest standards of competition organization, but ensuring a friendly, family atmosphere during the event is equally important to us. And there are results – this year we exceeded the threshold of a thousand participants for the first time – says Adam Greczyło, director of LOTTO Challenge Gdańsk powered by PGE.

Horsten: Challenge Gdańsk is world class!

The 4th edition of the competition in Gdańsk began with a sprint (750 meters of swimming, 20 kilometers of cycling and a 5-kilometer run). Igor Mentel was the best at the swimming stage in the waters of the Baltic Bay of Gdańsk, and Karolina Szalast, the fastest among women, emerged from the water a dozen or so seconds behind him. The bike was already a show off by Tymon Horsten, who has Polish and Dutch citizenship, and Agnieszka Gadomska, who carried the advantage they had gained at this stage of the race to the end. On the cross-country course, Horsten was closely chased by German Mattes Kuntermann, but his losses after swimming and cycling were too great to make up for.
– I knew that I had to attack and escape my rivals on my bike. My plan was to gain at least a minute advantage here and everything went according to plan. This is my third time at Challenge Gdańsk and I rate the atmosphere of this competition very well. It’s getting better every year, it’s truly world class – Horsten said.

Agnieszka Gadomska won in Gdańsk for the third time in a row, and she did not hide her tears at the finish line.

– I am very moved and these are tears of happiness. I’m coming back from an injury, I didn’t know what to expect. And here I have a clear victory. Just a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure if I would be able to start in Gdańsk. The bike is now my strongest point and that’s where the fate of today’s competition was decided. I’m very happy that I finally came to terms with “my goat” – said the joyful winner at the finish line.

Tactically start from the back
Punctually at 10.00, athletes competing at the Olympic distance (1.5 km swimming / 40 km cycling / 10 km running) took part at the start.
An unusual situation occurred among the men. Competitors started every 10 seconds in the rolling start formula. Marcin Paszkiewicz used a tactical approach and delayed his start by 2 minutes, which resulted in his name constantly appearing in the lead in the live results.
– I planned to start later. However, I wanted it to be about one and a half minutes, but it was two minutes, Paszkiewicz said at the finish line.
He crossed the finish line third, but was ultimately classified second, although he was in the virtual lead for most of the distance. Ultimately, Rafał Wąsowski triumphed.

– Someone shouted to me that something was happening there, but I didn’t fully understand it. Only 500 meters before the finish line I received information that Marcin was the leader. What happened then is hard to imagine. A hard and crazy two minutes. And then waiting at the finish line – the winner of the Olympic distance said calmly.

There were no such emotions among the ladies. Aleksandra Grochowska set out on her own from the first discipline, and with each kilometer she only increased her advantage on the bike and in the run.

– I knew from the beginning that I had the advantage. As soon as I got out of the water, the coach shouted to me that I was the first one. No one passed me on a bike either. However, the swimming was very difficult and it was windy while cycling, so it was still a demanding start. I had a moderate pace both on the bike and during the run according to the coach’s plan, but it’s hard to motivate yourself to make the maximum effort knowing that you have a big advantage. I rate this competition very well. A year ago I started in the “half”. I love competing in Gdańsk, I also like the Challenge Family very much, I feel close to these competitions, explained Grochowska.
A few minutes behind the best woman, Sebastian Chmara, a former track and field athlete, indoor world champion in the heptathlon, and currently vice-president of the Polish Athletics Association, crossed the finish line.

– I spent last week in Rome commenting on the European Athletics Championships and the fatigue was starting to take its toll. But triathlon is a kind of suffering. The important thing is that I finished this competition. Anyway, it’s amazing! I will definitely come back to Gdańsk next year. This is where the athletes feels at home taken care of and the most important thing – said Sebastian Chmara after the finish line.

I am a complete triathlete!
The highlight of LOTTO Challenge Gdańsk powered by PGE was Sunday’s middle-distance competition between PRO male and female competitors. Among men, Kacper Stępniak won for the second time in a row in Gdańsk, whose time – 3:40:28 – was almost 4 minutes better than last year. German Finn Große-Freese, who was second at the finish line, was over 2 minutes behind the winner. The podium was completed by Swede Jesper Svensson (3:44:17).
– I wanted to get a good result on the bike and I succeeded – last year I had a similar time. However, my run was much better today – I ran about 10 seconds per kilometer faster, so I’m happy with myself. Although a week ago, during the competition in Warsaw, I had some doubts that I could run well, today I proved to myself that I am a complete triathlete – said Stępniak at the finish line.
– I was a bit afraid of the players who were chasing me. However, I knew that even if they caught up with me, but I ran at my constant pace, I would still be satisfied because I really did what I could do today. I come from shorter distances – sprinting and Olympic racing, where the transition zone is crucial because a delay can be very costly. And this fast pace of changes stayed with me, thanks to which I added over 20 seconds to the next competitor in the zone. Today the weather was perfect for the competitors, below 20 degrees, no sun, and it is possible that this helped me improve my result from last year. But I am also stronger this year and better prepared for the season. The event met my expectations, everything on the route was well prepared, I had a lot of fans from Gdańsk and other cities, so I am doubly happy about it. The last part of the event is still ahead of me, because the finishing zone at this competition is one of the best in the world – added Stępniak with a laugh.

Among the PRO middle distance competitors, the best was the representative of our western neighbors – Julia Skala (4:18:45). British Rosie Weston was second (4:22:51), and third was her compatriot Claire Hann (4:25:07).

– This is my first victory in a Challenge formula competition. It was a very hard day, especially the cycling part. Contrary to what is said that the bicycle route in Gdańsk is easy, it turned out to be very difficult. It was much easier in the running section, said the winner from Germany.

Polish Ewa Komander stayed in the medal position for a long time, but eventually she was fourth with a time of 4 hours, 26 minutes and 32 seconds.
– I evaluate my start today as very good. A very nice event, it was my first time competing here and the route was amazing, I liked it very much. I lost a lot in the swimming section, but I managed to make it up on the bike. The competition was side by side and the differences during the race were very small – said Komander.

Promotion of sports and good fun
LOTTO Challenge Gdańsk is not only a competition of professional triathletes, but also great fun and a way to spend time actively in a picturesque seaside location. The weekend competition was preceded by the TREFL Aquathlon competition on Friday, in which children and teenagers aged 7 to 17 swam and ran over distances adapted to their age and abilities.
Once again, the event included a charity recreational run for women – Challenge Women by Brooks, from which all entry fees will be donated to the Pomeranian Hospice for Children in Gdańsk. The winner was Wiktoria Gliszczyńska from Kościerzyna in 21:04. The warm-up for the race participants was conducted by the Olympic champion in the mixed 4×400 meters relay and the Olympic and world vice-champion in the 4×400 meters relay – Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik, together with the coach of the women’s 4×400 meters relay, Aleksander Matusiński.

Full results from LOTTO Challenge Gdańsk powered by PGE can be found HERE