Doherty Fourth at Tartu European Champs

Tartu 2018_CDoherty Bike

Con Doherty has finished fourth in Europe in an exciting elite men's race at the 2018 Tartu ETU European Championships. Con managed to bike and run his way back into contention for a medal, having served a ten second penalty earlier in the race for a false swim start. Doherty put down the third quickest bike and the fastest run split of the day.

It came down to the wire for Doherty, with a sprint finish for the silver and bronze medal against Spanish athletes Uxio Abuin Ares and Roberto Sanchez Mantecon. Just two seconds separated second and fourth place in the final standings.

an awesome race

Here is how the race panned out, in Con's own words:

Having raced this course before last year at a European Cup where I’d done well, I was excited and confident about coming here for the European Champs. The event doubled up as the European Junior Champs so a total of 7 Irish elite athletes came to Tartu to race, probably the biggest showing of Irish elites at any event I’ve been to! We arrived late on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning with the race taking place on Friday. The junior girls were first to go, and 3 of them, Orla, Maeve and Erin did themselves proud. Although they did have things they were happy and unhappy about, they were all in the mix, and significantly influenced the results, and that’s a good place to be with so much development to come.

After that was the Junior Boys, where Sabian and Ben hit the pontoon. This was only their second international event but they contested it with gusto. Unfortunately the rough and physical swim, evident in all elite races in Tartu, got the better of Ben, and Sabian was unfortunate enough to crash coming into T2. They both finished the race with what they had left however, and with plenty of learnings to come away with.

Ireland had no Elite Women competing, so up next was Darren and myself. After a lot of hard racing and training during the past couple months, I came here directly after a much-needed holiday. And although I had mixed feelings on the morning of the race, I was uber relaxed and manged to keep my mind in the zone where I love to be.

Standing on the start line waiting for the horn, I began to edge forward as I heard “TAKE YOUR MARKS…”. I guess I was falling forward as we waited for the gun to go off. I heard the horn and pushed just before completely falling in. I exited the water beside the Spaniard; Roberto Sanchez Mantecon, the eventual bronze medalist. From racing him several times I knew that if I exited the water with him, there was a good chance of catching the front pack.

Running into transition, I saw one of the TO’s (technical officials) standing nearby my bike. I hoped it wasn’t my zone, but when it became clearer that she was standing by my helmet, my heart sunk a bit. Still unsure why I had the penalty, I thought it would be better to take it in case I had done something that I didn’t realise. When I got out onto the bike, I found myself in a small chase pack with Darren. The bike course was a somewhat technical route with a single 300m hill at 7% gradient on every lap with a total of 4 laps. There were some strong cyclists in our group, but we could have done a better job of clawing back the deficit more efficiently. Coming into T2 however, we were just a few seconds behind the front pack.

Tartu 2018_CDoherty Run

I was the first of my group to get through transition, but I still had a lot of bodies to pass. Initially, I thought; ‘Aww man… that’s a lot of guys’ but after I passed the first, my motivation ramped up. We had to run the same hill that we did on the bike twice, and by the time we had gotten to the top of the hill on the first time around, I found myself sitting in 5th place! After the first km, I settled into my own tempo, relaxed and made my way up the group containing the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place guys. Richard Varga was up the road alone with 50m gap on us, and sure for the win. In my group were two Spaniards and a Czech. Knowing that I had been running faster than them, I went around almost immediately and kept the pace on. From the first big effort going up the hill on the run, I could feel that my legs were lacking the kick I might need. Unable to drop them, we arrived at 600m to go and at the top of the same hill but running down it. The two Spaniards both put on a burst, opened up their gaits and got a gap, I tried to respond; enough to drop the Czech but not enough to catch the two lads. The crowd went wild as the three of us were separated by just a second each after 600m of sprinting. An immediate bitter-sweetness came over me but was I buzzing to be part of such drama. Not too far behind came Darren in 27th place in a field of 63 athletes. And although it wasn’t the result he came here for, it was a very solid placing in a European Championship. There were some ‘ifs and buts’ that flooded my head when I was finished, but it is what it is. All in all, it was an awesome race, the kind of race that I do this sport for.

Tartu 2018_DDunne Run

Darren Dunne finished 27th with one of the quickest bike splits of the day, finishing the 20km bike course in 27:06.

Junior Men & Women

Tartu 2018_Junior Women

Orla Walsh, Maeve Gallagher and Erin McConnell were on the start line for Ireland in the Junior Women's race. Orla finished best of the three in 19th position and a time of 1:02:34. Gallagher and McConnell finished in 26th and 53rd respectively in their first European Championships.

Tartu 2018_Junior Men

In the Junior Men's race, Ben Ryan and Sabian Kulczynski came 55th and 61st in their first individual European Championship race, gaining valuable experience at international level. 


Tartu 2018_TLazzari Bike

Tojo Lazzari and Donnacha McCarthy raced in the PTS4 and PTVI categories, finishing in tenth and ninth place respectively. This was Donnacha's first time representing Ireland at championship level, putting in a PB swim in the process. 

Tartu 2018_DMcCarthy Finish