With a dominant performance, the Russian team with both Winter Triathlon World Champions, Daria Rogozinaand Pavel Andreev, has won the first ever 2x2 Mixed Relay Winter Triathlon World Championships in Asiago (Italy), with the Italian team, cheered by thousands of spectators, has claimed the silver medal and Team Romania has finished in third place, getting for their country their first ever medal in a world championship race or Triathlon considering all the formats.
The 2x2 format is a new addition to the ITU catalog of events, and for the Asiago Winter Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships consisted of teams of one man and one women doing each one of them two laps on a circuit of 2km running, 4km on a MTB and a final 3km of cross-country ski.
The Russian dominance was expected, with both recently crowned World Champions, Rogozina and Andreev, teaming up to form the first of the three Russian teams competing in Asiago, and with both silver medallists in the individual races, Yulia Surikova and Dmitriy Bregeda, forming the second of their teams. What was less expected is that a pair of young Italian kids, Giorgia Rigoni and Simone Avondetto, both of them just 18 years old, will be the ones fighting along with them to be in the podium.
Right from the start Rogozina and Surikova run together but followed close by an irreverent Rigoni, who had absolutely nothing to loose and so much to show. Even though she was competing in the Junior Mixed Relay race, she proved how strong cyclist she is by closing up the gap in the tough and technical MTB course, opening a significant distance with the rest of the field, finishing her leg in a confident third place overall, almost four minutes ahead of the second Junior team.
All eyes were set then in the men that had to cope with the second leg of the race: Andreev -7 times world champion- for Team Russia I, Bregeda for Team Russia II and Avondetto for Team Italy I Junior. And even though the Russians were ahead in the run segment, the MTB was the perfect weapòn for the young Italian to maintain a significant distance with the other senior teams behind him: Italy I with Daniel Antonioli, Marek Rauchfuss for the Czech Republic and the second team of the Italians, led by another local hero, Guiseppe Lamastra.
While both Russians looked relaxed in the ski section, saving some energy for their second leg of the race, Avondetto had to push hard in the last meters of the ski course, with a fantastic performance from Edith Vakaria (ROM) escalating five spots in the ski leg to finish his leg in a fourth position overall.
It was in her second leg when Rogozina decided to go one extra gear to leave behind Surikova as much as she could, knowing that the battle for gold will be among both Russian teams, and also knowing that according to the rules, only one team per country can step in the podium, so it was either gold or nothing for both of the squads. Behind them, Rigoni again proved that she is a really strong runner and biker and managed to keep herself in third place, followed close by her teammate Sandra Mairhofer, from Team Italy I, aiming for a bronze medal.