Europe’s top Para triathletes will go head-to-head for continental titles, as the European Championships get underway on Thursday (19 July) in Tartu, Estonia.
Here are the top contenders in each category:
Two new European champions will be crowned in both the men’s and women’s PTWC categories with defending champions Jetze Plat of the Netherlands and Great Britain’s Jade Jones not competing in Estonia.
Plat’s compatriot Geert Schipper could ensure the title stays in Dutch hands. The world silver medallist will be aiming to go one better than his second-place finishes in this year’s World Series events in Yokohama, Japan, and Iseo, Italy.
Great Britain’s world bronze medallist Joe Townsend is likely to be Schipper’s closest challenger following his Commonwealth Games gold in April.
In the women’s equivalent, the favourites include Spain’s Eva Maria Moral Pedrero, who has been a regular on the international podium since taking up the sport in 2014. Netherlands’ Margret Ijdema and France’s Mona Francis could also pick up the first European medals of their Para triathlon careers.
Great Britain’s Andrew Lewis will be hoping to bounce back after suffering his first defeat in three years at June’s Besancon World Cup. The Paralympic, world and European champion will have to hold off the challenge of Besancon winner Stephane Bahier of France if he is to retain his title.
There will be a new champion in the women’s event with Finland's Liisa Lilja choosing not to defend her title. Great Britain’s Fran Brown is a major contender, having finished second to Lilja at last year’s Europeans, while Spain’s Rakel Mateo Uriarte and Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani will also try to take advantage of the champion’s absence.
World and European champion Daniel Molina of Spain is unbeaten in his last six international triathlons. But Great Britain’s Ryan Taylor, Spain’s Joaquin Carrasco and Germany’s Max Gelhaar are likely to provide strong competition.
France’s Elise Marc is the only entrant in the women’s event.
The men’s event will be one of the most competitive races of the Championships with France’s Alexis Hanquinquant starting as defending champion. The world champion is not in the best of form though, having finished off the podium for the first time in two years in Iseo.
Great Britain’s Worlds silver medallist Steven Crowley is likely Hanquinquant’s main challenger. But Spain’s Alejandro Sanchez Palomero, Russia’s Mikhail Kolmakov* and Austria’s Oliver Dreier have all been victorious in 2018.
Defending champion Cassie Cava, formerly of Great Britain but now competing under the International Triathlon Union flag, faces competition from British athlete Hannah Moore in the women's event.
Germany’s defending champion Martin Schulz will hope to continue his successful comeback from injury, having won World Cup events in Eton Dorney, Great Britain, and Besancon, France.
Spain’s world silver medallist Jairo Ruiz Lopez and France’s Yannick Bourseaux are also ones to watch.
In the women’s event, five-time European champion Lauren Steadman of Great Britain has won all three of her races this season. But her compatriot Claire Cashmore and France’s Gwladys Lemoussu will also challenge for the title.
Great Britain’s Dave Ellis is the dominant force in men’s vison impaired triathlon, while Spain’s Hector Catala Laparra and Ukraine’s Vasyl Zakrevskyi are also likely to be in contention.
Spain’s world silver medallist Susana Rodriguez is in-form having claimed two wins and a silver medal in the women’s event already this season. But Great Britain’s Alison Patrick also arrives in Estonia on the back of two wins so expect a tight contest.
Full entry lists for the European Championships can be found on the International Triathlon Union’s website.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.