The European Rowing Championships – preview

Poznan is the venue for the European Championships, the 2nd of the “big” regattas of the 2015 season. The European’s sees the first appearance of the British and I reviewed their squad in a previous blog. So lets have a look at the entries….

M1X

20 scullers.

World champion, Ondrej Synek makes his season’s debut and will start as favourite in Poznan. But, there are some very talented names chasing him down. The biggest name of all is the great Olaf Tufte. The 2008 Olympic champion is battling to reclaim that level of speed but he cannot be ignored.

But perhaps the biggest challenge will come from Mindaugas Griskonis. The Lithuanian just missed out on a medal at the World Championships last year and he should prove a strong challenge to Synek.

Another big challenger will be Croatia’s Damir Martin. He finished 2nd in the 1st World Cup behind the Cuban, Angel Fournier Rodriguez. Yet another “big” name to watch for is Aleksander Aleksandrov, an “A” finalist at the Worlds last year.

Also look for the Bled bronze medalist from Switzerland, Markus Kessler and GB’s Angus Groom, winner at Essen.

[EDIT: I’ve been given a hard time by some of my Dutch readers for failing to mention their man, Roel Braas. I was reminded that in my preview of the 2015 season I picked Braas as my one to watch. He was originally slated to race at the first World Cup but pulled out. His 9th place finish at the Worlds last year was disappointing given he managed a 5th place in 2013. I don’t think he’ll be among the medals in Poznan but he will be expecting to make an “A” final appearance – I hope that appeases my Dutch friends!!]

My picks….Synek comfortably in gold with Griskonis 2nd and Martin in 3rd

M2X

21 crews

The Croatian Sinkovic brothers were due to race in Bled but withdrew following an injury. They are hopeful to be back at Poznan but time will tell. If they do return they are such an outstanding combination that they will start as favourites even if they are short of training. I do hope they get to race in Poznan as it’ll be fascinating to see them take on the new German combo of Hacker and Krueger….winners in Bled.

The Norwegian’s, Kjetil Borch and Nils Jakob Hoff were World Champions in 2013 but found the going a little tougher in 2014 only managing 14th. They will be very keen to be back up near the front of the field again this year.

Another double looking to improve on last years result are the British, John Collins and Jon Walton. An established pairing they were bitterly disappointed to miss the “A” final last year and will be after a podium finish in Poznan. They will be particularly keen to test their speed against the Germans.

The Serbians, Marko Marjanovich and Aleksandar Filipovic were silver medalists in Bled and, in a stronger field in Poznan, will be looking for a solid “A” final finish.

The French duo, Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias won gold at the Bled international regatta and then took bronze in the quad at the World Cup.

The final crew to highlight are the Czech’s, Michal Plocek and David Jirka who took bronze in Bled.

My picks….if they race, then the Croatians will win ahead of the Germans and British. If the Sinkovic’s are absent then I’ll put the Norwegians in bronze.

[EDIT: It’s been confirmed that the Sinkovic;s won’t be racing in Poznan. They are both fit, but only returned to the water at the beginning of the week. They will be sorely missed in Poznan. They have indicated that they plan to race at the 2nd World Cup and also at Henley.]

M2-

14 pairs.

Poznan sees the return to the coxless pair of the Olympic silver medalists, Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette. They spent last season in the slightly disappointing French 8 and are now back in the boat they’ve had most success in. The interesting battle will be against the 2014 silver medalists, Matt Langridge and James Foad from Great Britain. Foad and Langridge became the fastest British pair ever last year, 6:13.75 and the battle with the French could be one of the highlights of the regatta. Their training has been a little disrupted with Foad suffering a broken foot at the end of their last training camp. But, he responded well to treatment and didn’t miss too much in the way of training.

The Dutch will also be pressing for the medals, Mitchel Steenman and Rogier Blink are, on their day, one of the top 2 or 3 pairs in the world, but they lack consistency. They followed up a bronze medal in 2013 with a 10th place in 2014.

Behind these three the Germans look to be the pick of the bunch. The highly experienced Toni Seifert and Kristof Wilke have missed out on a seat in the top M8, but will be a formidable duo in the pair.

Also watch out for the Spanish, Alexander Sigurbjonsson and Pau Vela Maggi who were an excellent 4th last year. Finally I’ll highlight the Hungarians, Adrian Juhasz and Bela Simon Jr who took silver in Bled – a step on from their 13th place last year.

My picks….It’s going to be a tight battle between the French and British, I think the French will, in this instance come out on top with the British just behind and both boats clear of the Dutch in third.

M4-

13 crews.

The British have dominated this event and have put together a new crew for this year. It’s a talented quartet with 2 world champions and 2 world silver medalists on board. I would pick them to start as favourites ahead of the Belorussians, winners from Bled.

The field isn’t massively strong and I would expect these two to be clear of the field although the Germans have a very experienced boat which includes world medalist, Max Planer and Felix Wimberger. This is a different line-up from that which raced at Bled and will be looking for a podium finish.

The Spanish have the same line up that won silver in Bled, as have the French who finished 4th. One of the strongest medal challengers are the Greeks, Ioannis Tsilis, Dionysios Angelopolous, Georgias Tziallis and Ioannis Christou. They were “A” finalists in Amsterdam last year and have the pace to make the podium.

My picks…GB for the win ahead of the Belorussians with the Greeks in 3rd

M4X

11 crews

This was shaping up to be an epic contest between the gold and silver medalists from last year. Ukraine only raced twice last year, the European’s and the Worlds, and the won both times. They have the same line-up in Poznan and will be looking to retain their title. The Ukrainians were the only crew to beat the British last year (and by the narrowest of margins in Amsterdam). I was really looking forward to round 3 in Poznan. But, the British have been forced into a late change, with Charlie Cousins dropping out with an injury. He’s replaced by U23 medalist, Jack Beaumont. Beaumont is an excellent sculler and has a very bright future in the British team. But, the British quad will miss the firepower of Cousin and the next round of the GB v Ukraine battle will have to wait until probably Aiguebelette.

Germany have kept with the line-up that won in Bled and will be keen to take on the World Champions and also get the better of the British who bested them in every race last year. The French have tweaked their line-up from Bled with Julien Montet and Mickael Marteau remaining from the crew that took bronze. They are joined by Jean-Baptiste Macquet and Alberic Cormerais who were both in the quad that finished 9th in Amsterdam.

The other crew to watch are the young Swiss quad. They were 4th in Bled  and are the reigning U23 champions.

My picks…If the British were at full strength they would have been my pick for gold. But with Cousins out it pushes them down the pecking order. So, I’m going for Ukraine in gold with Germany silver and GB in bronze.

M8

8 crews.

This promises to be the race of the championships, it’s going to be the world champions from Great Britain versus the Olympic champions from Germany. As mentioned in my earlier blog about the GB team, Grobler has prioritised the M8 this year and put together a fearsome crew containing 8 world champions and international debutante, Stewart Innes (who some would say is keeping a seat warm for Stan Louloudis). Grobler will be wanting to start this year with a win, to lay down a marker against their no.1 rivals, the Germans.

For their part, the Germans have settled their line-up after boating 2 crews in Bled. Their line-up contains 6 of the crew that finished runners-up to the British last year. The changes are the return of Maximilian Munski, Anton Braun and Hannes Ocik from the 2013 silver medal 8. So, this line-up is now 8/9 of the 2013 crew. They will be relishing the chance to take on the British and get revenge for defeats at the Worlds in 2014. It’s going to be a pretty epic battle.

But, it’s not just about these two. The Poles have a strong, settled line-up and pushed the Germans hard in Amsterdam and again in Bled. The Russian’s were one of the surprises of 2014. Under the tutelage of Mike Spracklen they emerged as real medal contenders last year, only to disappoint in the final and finished 6th. If Spracklen can work his magic they could cause the British and Germans some real trouble.

Both the Dutch and the French are prioritising the 8 this year. The French were 4th in Bled and the Dutch have put their 2013 World Champion 4- into the 8 and they will be looking to get onto the podium.

My picks….GB ahead of the Germans with the bronze being a huge battle between the Poles, Russians and Dutch. I’m going to plump for the Poles.

W1X

13 scullers

This looks to be a really classy field. Obviously Mirka Knapkova is the one to watch, the Olympic champion was 2nd in Bled having had very little on-water training time. Her vanquisher from Bled, Ekaterina Karsten, has returned to the double, so Knapkova must start with the favourites tag. But, she’s going to have some stiff competition.

The Belorussian no.1 sculler, Tatsiana Kukhta, led the field at Bled until the final 500m and she was only just overhauled by Knapkova. Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen continues her comeback following a break after finishing 2nd at the Olympics. Her competitive return last year saw her finish 11th in Amsterdam. But with another winter of training under her belt she should be getting back to the sort of speed that brought her medals a few years ago.

Another athlete making her competitive return is Poland’s Julia Michalska. The London-based Olympic silver medalist has not raced internationally since the Olympic final but has raced domestically in the UK, most notably in a W4X at the Head of the River Fours with the likes of Emma Twigg, Zoe Lee and Mel Wislon. It’s great to see her back in the single and targeting an Olympic comeback. It remains to be seen if she still has the speed to mix it at a World Cup.

One of the most exciting performances in the W1X at last year’s World Championships was that of Ireland’s Sanita Puspure. She just missed out on the medals in Amsterdam and looks poised to challenge for major honours in Poznan.

5th in Bled was Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig, an U23 world champion from 2013, she is a sculler who is always there-or-thereabouts and has been consistently making “A” finals since her senior debut last season. She is another athlete who will be looking for a podium finish in Poznan.

Great Britain have selected one of their most experienced athletes in this event, Fran Houghton. The 34 year old is aiming for her 5th Olympics, a feat that would round-off a wonderful career. she’s more accustomed to racing crew boats but did race the W1X at the World Championships in 2011 finishing 11th. A solid “A” final appearance will be a great result for the Briton.

My picks….Knapkova for the win, Puspure in silver with Kukhta picking up another bronze.

W2X

17 crews

This is probably the most eagerly awaited race of the season. it sees the competitive return of Great Britain’s Olympic champion, Katherine Grainger. She’s teamed with Vicky Thornley who was the GB W1X last season and was really disappointed to miss out on the “A” final. There’s going to be huge pressure on this combination to deliver a strong performance, a gold might be a bit much to expect but they won’t be happy with anything less than a silver.

The main challenge will come from the Poles, winners of the 1st World Cup, silver medalists from Amsterdam and the defending European Champions, Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj will be a very stern test for the new British combination.

The other big challenge will come from the Belorussians, Ekaterina Karsten and Yuliya Bichyk. These two were meant to be racing in Bled but Bichyk withdrew with an injury (allowing Karsten to race, and win, in the W1X). This duo have raced together for a number of years but have never really threatened the podium, for my money Karsten is a far better single sculler than a crew sculler, but the Belorussian federation seem intent on using her in a crew boat.

The Lithuanians, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite are making their firt appearance of the season following a 4th place in Amsterdam, the 2013 World Champions will be another crew looking to rain on the British parade.

The final crew to highlight in this event are the Germans, Julia Lier and Marieke Adams. 2nd to the Poles in Bled, Lier was in the top German quad that won the world championships last year but misses out on a seat in that boat this year. The Germans have a very strong tradition in crew sculling and will definitely be slugging it out towards the front of the race.

My picks….it’s too soon to say how fast the new British combination will be so I’m going for a Polish gold with GB in silver and Lithuania in bronze.

W2-

14 pairs

Anything other than a comfortable win for the British, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, will be a major shock. The pair have not lost since the 2011 World Championship final. They are beginning to dominate this event in the same way that Murray and Bond dominate the men’s 2-. It really is a story of who will get the silver and bronze. “Best-of-the-rest” favourites are probably the Dutch, Elisabeth Hogerwerf and Olivia van Rooijen, winners in Bled they were both part of the Dutch quad that finished 7th last year.

The other main challenge should come from the Romanians, Cristina Grigoras and Laura Oprea. They were 4th at the World Championships and runners up to the British (Glover and swann) at last year’s Europeans.

My picks….The British to be clear water winners with the Romanians in silver and the Dutch in bronze. The rest of the field trailing some way behind.

W4X

7 crews.

The Germans are looking to re-exert their authority on this event. They used to own the W4X and the line-up they have in Poznan (Annekatrin Thiele, Marie-Catherine Arnold, Carina Baer and Lisa Schmidla) looks to have the potential to dominate this year. Winners last year and winners of the first World Cup they will definitely start in Poznan as hot favourites.

The Poles were 2nd to the Germans in Bled, a step up from the 8th place they managed in Amsterdam. In Bled the Poles had an epic battle with the Dutch, finishing just 4/10ths ahead of the fast finishing Netherlands. These two will be going toe-to-toe behind the Germans again in Poznan.

The British have made two changes to the crew that finished a slightly disappointing 9th at the Worlds last year. Kristina Stiller and Beth Rodford remain, but are joined by Melanie Wilson who was in the W8 in 2013 and the very talented youngster, Jess Leyden, who is making her senior debut and has the responsibility of stroking the crew. GB used to dominate this event but last won a major championship medal back in 2011, indeed since then they have struggled to make the “A” final. It remains to be seen if this latest combination can rekindle some of the former glories in this event.

My picks….The Germans for a comfortable win with the Dutch getting the better of the Poles.

W8

7 crews

This promises to be a good battle as there is no stand-out crew. Entries include crews that finished 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th at the world championships and the majority of the crews have very similar line-ups.

The Romanians will probably start as marginal favourites having finished the best of the entries at last years’ Worlds in 4th. They have 7 of that line-up racing in Poznan with two youngsters joining in the bow pair, Madalina Beres was U23 world champion in 2013 and Denisa Tilvescu was JW2- world champion last year – definitely a couple of exciting talents to keep an eye on.

The Russian’s were one place behind the Romanians last year, a big improvement from their 8th place finish at the 2014 Europeans. They have made just one change from that crew with Julia Kalinovskaya from the 2014 W4X coming into the crew.

The British were disappointed with their 6th place last year; they had aspirations to push up for the medals and certainly had the potential, but never really showed what they were capable of. This year there are 2 changes to the crew with Polly Swann and Vicky Meyer-Laker out injured they are replaced by Lucinda Gooderham and Olivia Carnegie-Brown who were in the quad last year.

The British need to stamp their authority on the race in Poznan if they want to establish themselves as genuine medal contenders this season and failing that make sure they qualify the boat.

Germany has 8 of the same crew that won the “B” final in Amsterdam with the only change being Alexandra Hoefgen moving across from the W4-. The German’s will need to improve significantly on the speed they showed last year to get amongst the medals in Poznan

My picks…The Romanians have a fantastic pedigree in this boat class and will be very difficult to beat. I’m going for them to take the gold ahead of the British with Germany in 3rd….so basically the same 1,2,3 as last year’s Euro Champs.

LW1X

13 scullers

The favourite for this event must surely be Imogen Walsh of Great Britain. Walsh was part of the LW2X with Olympic champion Kat Copeland, which dominated the World Cups last season, only to have a disaster at the Worlds where they failed to qualify for the final. Walsh has missed out on selection for the lightweight Double this season, with her place being taken by Charlie Taylor. She will be keen to keep the pressure on the selectors to try and win back the seat in the Olympic class boat. The first step in this will be a convincing win in the light single in Poznan.

The main competition for Walsh will probably come from Mirte Kraaijkamp of the Netherlands. She was part of the LW4X that won gold on her home water last year, repeating the victory she had in the same boat class in ChungJu in 2013.

One of the most exciting parts of this event is to see the return to international competition of Ireland’s Sinead Jennings. The 38 year old last represented Ireland back in 2008 when she took  a silver medal in this event at the World Championships. It’s great to see her back in international competition.

At the other end of the scale experience-wise is the young Greek sculler, Thomais Emmanouilidou, who makes her international debut in Poznan a mere 21 years Jennings’ junior!

Other medal challenges are likely to be Germany’s Judith Anlauf who won bronze in the LW4X last season and Sweden’s Emma Fredh who finished 9th in the LW2X

My picks….Walsh comfortably in gold ahead of Kraaijkamp in silver and Jennings in bronze

LW2X

14 crews.

Great Britain’s Kat Copeland is the “big” name in the field. The Olympic champion had a shock end to her 2014 campaign when she and partner Imogen Walsh crashed out of the World Championships, failing to make the “A” final. This season she has a new partner, Charlie Taylor. The Putney Town sculler raced in the LW4X at last year’s worlds finishing 6th. She was also part of a dramatic 1m2 for GB in the LW2X at the Aiguebelette World Cup.  All eyes will be on this new combination and anything less than a major medal at these championships will be a cause for concern.

Chasing the British will be the Danes, Anne Lolk Thomsen and Juliane Rasmussen (wife of Olympic LM2X Mads). These two are making their first competitive appearance since finishing 4th at the London Olympics. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of speed they have after a three year break.

The German’s have an interesting new combination blending youth and experience. The experience comes from Marie-Louise Dreager who raced in the open-weight single at the London Olympics. The “youth” is in the form of Fini Sturm, U23 world champion in the lightweight quad last year.

3rd at the first world cup were the Dutch, Elisabeth Woerner and Maaike Head. They were both part of the gold medal LW4X last year and will be looking to establish themselves as serious contenders in the Olympic class boat.

The final crews to mention are the Poles and the Austrians. The Poles, Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz, didn’t race together at the 1st world Cup (although they did race, and win, at the Bled International Regatta). Deresz raced with Martyna Mikolajczak in the double and won silver, with Dorociak taking bronze in the LW1X. These two are a highly experienced duo and took 8th in Amsterdam and 6th at last year’s Europeans.

The Austrians, Sara Lambing and Leonie Pless, are a new combination and finished 5th in their first competitive race together in Bled. Pless has dual Austrian/German nationality and she has competed for Germany for the past 5 years. Lambing has also changed nationality having competed for her native Sweden from 2000 to 2010. This combination has a lot of potential and will only get faster as they spend more time together.

My picks….The British will be expecting to win, and anything less than a gold will be considered a little disappointing. The Danes are a bit of an unknown quantity, but certainly have the pedigree and the new German combination looks interesting. I’m going for that as the 1,2,3 (although the Dutch could well get among the medals).

LM1X

17 scullers

Olympic LM2X Champion, Mads Rasmussen continues on the comeback trail. Whether he and his partner Rasmus Quist actually get back in the double again remains to be seen, but you cannot ignore a prodigious talent like Rasmussen no matter what boat he is in.

His main rival in Poznan is likely to be a sparring partner of old, Nuno Mendes of Portugal. These two have been racing eachother in the LM2X for years, and Mendes finished 5th behind the Dane at the London Olympics, so they will know eachother very well.

Mendes only managed 9th in Bled but he is a fierce competitor. Someone who did slightly better in Bled was 28 year old Slovenian, Rajko Hrvat. He picked up the silver medal at the first world cup and is showing excellent form. 1 place behind the Slovenian in Bled was Bulgaria’s Nedelcho Vasilev. He only managed 20th in the world last year but is showing good pace so far this season.

A young name to watch out for is GB’s Zak Lee-Gree, A winner at Essen this season he was 10th at the world championships and is definitely one to watch for this season and beyond.

My picks….I going for a Denmark gold, Slovenian silver and GB bronze.

LM2-

11 pairs

Lots of nations are trying different combinations this season. One of the surprise selections comes from GB, with Olympic silver medalist Peter Chambers teaming up with fellow Colerainian Joel Cassellls (making his senior debut). Cassells was originally named in the LM4- but has moved across to the pair. The surprise is that Chambers is not in an Olympic class boat, and he’s not racing with his older brother Richard. These two are potentially a very fast combination and look to be the class of the field.

The main challengers to the British are likely to be the Austrians and Germans. Dominik Sigl and Markus Lemp of Austria are an established pairing and just missed a medal in Bled and finished a slightly disappointing 11th in Amsterdam.

The Germans, Jonas Kilthau and Sven Kessler both rowed together in the LM8 that won gold last year. At the first World Cup Kilthau rowed with Alexander Diedrich and took bronze whereas Kessler finished 4th in the LM4-

The final crew to mention in this event are the French, Augustin Mouterde and Theophile Onfroy. Mouterde was 2nd in this event at the World Championships and Onfroy just missed out on the medals in the LM4-. They will be the main challengers for the British for the gold.

My picks, GB gold, France silver, Austria bronze

LM2X

14 doubles. A big field, with some of the biggest names in lightweight sculling competing. The French must surely start as favourtites. Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou dominated this event for the whole of 2014 apart from when it really mattered,, the world championships when the South Africans produced one of the upsets of the year to deny them the gold. They will be looking to re-exert the dominance they showed for most of last season.

The Dutch Muda twins, Tycho and Vincent, were winners in Bled and will be hoping to continue that good form and take a medal in Poznan. i have a feeling they will find the competition a little harder than in Bled.

Another crew to watch out for are the 2013 World Champions, Krostoffer Brun and Are Strandli. They took bronze and the 2nd and 3rd World Cups and then in Amsterdam. They will be hoping to get at least one step higher on the podium in Poznan.

The British have a new combination this year, with the highly experienced Olympic silver medalist Richard Chambers joining Will Fletcher who raced in this boat class last year with Jamie Kirkwood. As with brother Pete, this selection is a little bit of a surprise as Richard has always stated that his preferred boat is the 4. But, he and Fletcher make an interesting combination and could well be pushing for a medal.

The Portuguese will also be among the medal contenders. Pedro Fraga and Nuno Goncalves  Coelho were silver medalists in Bled, and Fraga has a long pedigree in this boat class.

One final crew to mention are the Irish O’Donovan brothers, Paul and Gary. They are an exciting prospect, Paul finished 4th in the LM1X last year, They may find the competition for an “A” final slot a bit hot in Poznan but they will be an exciting crew to watch.

My picks…France for gold ahead of the Norwegians with the British in bronze.

Finally…..

LM4-

14 crews.

This is all about the Danes. They have made one change to the crew that won the World Championships last year with Jens Vilhelmsen replacing Morten Joergensen. No matter who is in a Danish LM4- you can always expect fireworks and it will always be fast.

Looking to test themselves against the world champions are the Swiss, winners in Bled they have world LM2- champions Simon Neipmann and Lucas Tramer on board and three of the crew were in the Olympic final in London. They will be using the Europeans to benchmark themselves against the Danes and trying to give them a real scare!

The British have tweaked the line-up that was originally announced with Jonno Clegg replacing Joel Cassells. The British have a lot of potential and experience in the boat, stroke man Chris Bartley has since 2009 and stroked the boat to an Olympic silver medal. All four of the crew won bronze medals at last year’s World Championships and will be another boat hoping to give the Danes a good run for their money.

Personally I think the medals will come from these three crews. The “best of the rest” are likely to be the Dutch (5th in Bled) the French (with half the crew that finished 4th in Amsterdam) and the Germans (with the same line up that finished 8th in the world last year).

My picks….I think the Danes will hold off the British to take the gold with the Swiss in bronze.

that’s it, thanks for getting this far! My apologies there aren’t any nice pictures but deadlines have caught up with me!

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3 thoughts on “The European Rowing Championships – preview

  1. Mark

    Always good to read your heads up of any event Dan. Thank you. Pierre Houin in the LM1x is a 6.08 on the ergo and came 2nd behind Jeremie Azou in their trials. I personally think he will mix it up well and possibly get on the podium. Like I say lovely read Dan and please keep it up as it makes wautching just that bit more enjoyable.

    Reply
  2. Mark

    Let us wait for that Final before i get the smug feeling;) The French have a strong Lightweight sculling Team and Houin is a name for the future in that Double. Who knows we may see him yet with Jeremie Azou before Rio. Know 2 Young Germans that are wishing Pierre to get in that French Double although Stany is a brilliant bowman.

    Reply

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