The 2012 Marathon World Cup was held last weekend at Lake Bagsværd (Copenhague) Denmark, as a prelude to the Marathon World Championships that will take place at the same spot in 2013. Once again, Spain had a strong presence in the final standings, claiming gold in both main categories, the senior Men’s K1 and K2, with Iván Alonso and the K2 pair of Walter Bouzán-Álvaro Fiuza, current world champions for two years in a row. Despite some countries being absent - South Africa and Hungary - the competition was hard, with many tight finishes during the weekend.
With an early start on Saturday, the Juniors set the pace giving the crowd a great race to begin the day. In the K1 Men’s, seven boats were in a close fight for the entire race, eventually finishing with a sprint between four boats in the lead. Medals went to Casper Pretzmann (DEN), gold; Miguel Llorens (ESP), silver; and Hynek Chroust (CZE), bronze. In the Women’s race, another local victory in a tight finish, with Amalie Thomsen (DEN) claiming gold, Amy Ward (GBR), silver and Carolina Massagues (ESP) taking bronze.
Following the Juniors, the canoeists took to the water. On a pretty windy day, some had troubles, particularly with turns and portage entries where the wind blew sidewards. The current U23 world champion, Spanish Manuel Garrido, fell in the water and had to withdraw from the race, while Nuno Barros (POR) showed a strong performance gaining a comfortable gold medal, followed by Matthias Erbhardt (GER) in silver and Jakub Brezina (CZE) in bronze.
Superiority was evident in the Senior Women’s K1 with promising young Italian Stefania Cicali, taking gold a minute and a half ahead of the local Birgit Pontoppidan (DEN), in silver and Italian Anna Alberti taking bronze.
It was then time for the main race on Saturday, the Senior Men’s K1 with many strong contestants at the start line in fresh and windy conditions. With seven and a half laps ahead of them, the start was frenetic for leaders, Neil Fleming (IRL) and Luca Piemonte (ITA). Behind them, the battle was on to find the good wash, and those losing it headed wide to find clear water. The first lap was very quick, but at the first portage a large bunch of 13 boats had established the lead. Star local veteran, Rene Olsen showed how important it is to keep a cool head as he battled to keep the pace and maintain contact with the lead group during such a long race.
Lap after lap, contestants were falling off the lead group until a group of six K1’s looked set to push away, but they were always reigned in on the next lap. There were too many strong paddlers on the water to let the things be too easy. Neil Fleming (IRL), Iván Alonso (ESP), Morten Minde (NOR) and Borja Estomba (ESP) took turns in the lead, but paddlers like Tim Pendle (GBR), Lars Hjemdal (NOR), Quentin Urban (FRA) or Luca Piemonte and Matteo Graziani (ITA) were very consistent chasing them down by using the wash. Rene Olsen, although suffering behind the lead group paddled determinedly, never being more than 50 metres behind.
At the sixth portage, Fleming and Alonso made a quick race across the grass, attempting to widen the gap before the finish line, Drama beset Morten Minde and Borja Estomba as they entered the water after a portage. They looked strong enough to be part of the lead group of four boats, but Minde fell in the water and Estomba smashed his rudder against the hull so started paddling in circles. Precious time was lost by both and this allowed following competitors to arrive and start paddling before they could do anything about it. Surprisingly, two kayaks were now chasing the leaders: Rene Olsen and the young Lars Hjemdal, who managed to pass the tired Italians - Urban, Pendle and Odvarko in the portage.
This resulted in two neck to neck sprints to decide the medals. Ivan Alonso (ESP) showed strong pace in the last 500 metres, where a visibly tired Neil Fleming (IRL) could not even try to pass the Spaniard. Gold for Alonso, silver for Fleming and a hundred metres behind Rene Olsen (DEN) managed to claim bronze which left Lars Hjemdal (NOR) out of the podium after a superb race.
You can read about all the double races of Day 2 in our next article.
You can check the results of this World Cup at this link.