Poznan World Cup preview part 1 – The men’s events

Lake Malta.JPG

Lake Malta, Poznan, venue for the 2nd Rowing World Cup

Poznan plays host for the 2nd World Cup of the season. Situated just to the east of the city centre the Lake Malta course is one of the most popular on the European circuit. It hosted the 3rd World Cup in 2016 and the European Championships in 2015.

The 2nd World Cup sees the first appearance of the antipodean teams. New Zealand and Australia both launch their 2017 campaigns in Poznan in what promises to be a fascinating weekend of racing.

 

M1X

22 scullers

So far this season there’s been different winners at the 1st World Cup and European Championships. In Belgrade Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland won a surprise victory ahead of Croatia’s Damir Martin. The Croatian had to settle for silver again at the European Championships when Ondrej Synek started his season in impressive style. Synek is giving Poznan a miss but both Martin and Stahlberg are racing. Martin will start as favourite in Poznan but he faces some stiff competition. Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez is set to make his season’s debut after scratching from the 1st World Cup. The two-time Olympian and former World medallist is Cuba’s most successful rower and will be looking for a podium finish.

Stahlberg

Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland, winner of the 1st World Cup

Another major challenger will be Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus. He finished in the A-Final at Rio and so far this season finished 5th in Belgrade and took bronze at the European Championships.

Poznan sees the first appearance of the New Zealand team, and it’s a brave man who tries to fill the shoes of the mighty double Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale. To take on this task the Kiwis have chosen Robbie Manson. A double Olympian from the Wairau Rowing Club, he finished 11th in the M2X at Rio. He secured his selection with victory at the 2017 National Championships and will be looking for a solid start to his 2017 international campaign.

Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland followed up his win in Belgrade with a disappointing 8th at the Europeans. New Swiss Chief Coach, Robin Dowell, will be hoping his man shows his Belgrade form rather than the Racice one.

Damir Martin has a compatriot to race against, former M4X crewmate David Sain kicks off his 2017 campaign in Poznan. Sain has been the only member of the World Championship winning M4X from 2013 that hasn’t gone on to win medals in other boats. His teammates, Valent & Martin Sinkovic became the dominant M2X of the Rio Olympiad (and are now trying to do the same in the M2-) and Damir Martin has forged an excellent career in the M1X. But for Sain he raced in the M2- in 2015 finishing a lowly 27th and failed to qualify for the Olympics. Now back in the single he’ll be looking for a positive performance. He raced at the Bled International Regatta last weekend and took gold just ahead of young Austrian Lukas Reim.

Serbia’s Marko Marjanovic is another sculler who followed-up an excellent performance at the 1st World Cup with a slightly disappointing one at the Europeans. Bronze in Belgrade was followed by 7th in Racice.

Great Britain have two scullers in the field in what promises to be a great Celtic battle. Racing as GBR1 is Welshman Tom Barras. He subbed into the M4X at both Belgrade (winning bronze) and Racice (finishing 4th). He’s joined by Scot, Josh Armstrong. The Edinburgh University student won the JM4X World Championships in 2015 and is making his senior debut in Poznan. He’s a prodigious talent having only started rowing four years ago. His focus this season will be the Prince Of Wales M4X at Henley Royal Regatta with Edinburgh University and then the U23’s but it’s great that the British team are giving him experience of a senior international regatta.

Another young sculler with a big future is Germany’s Tim Ole Naske. The 2016 U23 BM1X World Champion had a good race in Racice making the A-Final.

Other scullers to watch include young Brazilian Lucas Ferreira, bronze medallist at the Junior World Championships last year. The Dutch have two boats racing, with Stefan Broenink and Amos Keijser. Broenink finished just out of the medals in Belgrade but could only manage 16th in Racice, Keijser won bronze in the BM2X at the U23 World Championships last year. It’s always fun watching the inter-nation contests, Keijser will be hoping to get one over his senior teammate.

My picks….I reckon Damir Martin will get his first gold of the season with Manson opening his account with a silver ahead of Fournier Rodriguez.

 

M2-

15 pairs

Still no Sinkovic brothers in this event…but they are planning to be racing in Lucerne. They made their debuts at the Bled International Regatta last weekend with a comfortable win over two Turkish pairs. In their continued absence the rest of the world are jockeying for position.

The British, winners at the first World Cup, have moved Matt Rossiter into the M4- and Jacob Dawson into the 8. They had entered two pairs for Poznan, but because of illnesses in the M8 both pairs have been withdrawn and are instead racing in the M8

The Italians, winners at the European Championships, aren’t racing in Poznan. In their absence the strongest European crew will be the European silver medallists from France, Valentin & Theophile Onfroy. They were in the M4- that finished 11th in Rio but have formed an exciting new pairs partnership. The French, like the British, have two boats racing. The 2nd boat are the twins Thibaud and Guillaume Turlan. The Turlan twins raced in the U23 BM8 that finished 7th in 2016.

A new Zealand M2- with the name Murray on board normally guarantees a victory. But for 2017 its Thomas not Eric Murray. He’s joined by former lightweight James Hunter. This is a very, very exciting combination. Murray raced in the M8 that finished 6th in Rio and Hunter was in the LM4- that finished 5th. It’s fascinating to see the Kiwi lightweight sweep oarsmen moving up to the heavyweight division following the loss of the LM4- from the Olympic programme. With New Zealand having dominated this boat class for the last 8 years there’s huge pressure and expectation on this new line up. Word is they are going very, very fast and could well continue the Kiwi gold rush in the M2-

New Zealand are another nation with two boats racing in Poznan. NZL2 are U23 gold medallist Cameron Webster and Alex Kennedy who raced in the M8 in Rio.

The Serbian pairing of Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik. 10th in Rio they’ve had a good start to the 2017 season taking silver behind the British in Belgrade and bronze in Racice. Another podium finish would be a major achievement for the Serbians.

Australia have a great tradition in this boat class, with the likes of Drew Ginn, James Tomkins and Duncan Free. The 2017 edition are Hamish Playfair and Simon Keenan. Playfair last raced internationally back in 2014 when he was part of the M4X that won bronze at the Sydney World Cup. Keenan makes his senior debut having raced in the U23 team in 2013 and 2014 (winning silver in the BM8 in 2014). This has the makings of a development boat and an A-Final finish would be a superb start to their partnership.

The Czech Republic have two boats racing, the number one boat of Jakub Podrazil and Lukas Helsic are one of the few unchanged crews from 2016. At the Olympics they finished 7th and so far this season have bronze in the 1st World Cup and took 4th in Racice.

CZE2 are Kornel Altman and Vojtech Rimak. Altman raced in the M4- at the European Championships and Rimak in the M4X, neither of which made the A-Final.

The Dutch have been mixing and matching their M2- combinations. For Poznan they have Bo Wullings and Dirk Uitenbogaard. Wullings raced in the M8 that won gold in Belgrade and then finished 6th in the M2- at the Europeans. He’s joined by Olympic bronze medallist Uitenbogaard in his first race of 2017. This looks an exciting combination and a medal finish is a distinct possibility.

Germany have a new combination as well, with U23 World Champion Malte Grossman joined by U23 bronze medallist Rene Stueven. This is another boat that looks to be an exciting combination that will develop as the Olympiad progresses.

My picks…..New Zealand look really strong as do the Dutch and French. I reckon the medals will come from these three with the Oar-Blacks taking gold with the Dutch piping the French for silver.

 

M2X

14 doubles

Neither the Lithuanians (winners in Belgrade) nor the Italians (winners in Racice) are racing in Poznan, but it’s still a very exciting field. Starting as likely favourites will be the Polish crew of Dominik Czaja and Adam Wicenciak, bronze in the M2X at the first World Cup was followed by silver in the M4X at the European Championships.

Another serious contender for the gold will be the Norwegians, Olaf Tufte and Kjetil Borch. The Olympic bronze medallists reunite for the first time since Rio. Tufte raced in the quad in Racice finishing 5th. It’s great to see the partnership reunite and somewhat of a surprise as Borch was expecting to be out for up to 4 months following surgery but returns to the boat after just 6 weeks.  It’s a brave man that would bet against them making the podium.

Tufte

Norway’s Olaf Tufte – back in the M2X with Kjetil Borch

The M2X is another boat in which the Kiwis have a strong record. For 2017 they have chosen John Storey and Chris Harris, two Olympians, Harris raced to 11th in the M2X and Storey to 10th in the M4X in Rio.

The Bulgarians, Georgi Bozhilov and Kristian Vasilev are one of the few line-ups unchanged from the Rio Olympics. So far this season they raced at both the 1st World Cup and European Championships finishing in the A-Final on both occasions.

Australia have a new pairing for this season with Olympian David Watts joined by U23 World Champion Luke Letcher. The 6ft 7 Letcher makes his senior international debut in Poznan after 3 years on the U23 team culminating in gold in the BM4X in Rotterdam last year. This looks another exciting combination of youth and experience and will be among the medal challengers.

Great Britain have been boating a number of different combinations so far this season, and Poznan sees the 3rd different line-up in 3 regattas. This latest version is Nick Middleton and Frazier Christie. Middleton last raced internationally in the M2X with Jack Beaumont at the 2nd World Cup last year finishing 6th . Christie made his senior debut in Racice where he finished 11th in a scratch pairing with lightweight Zak Lee-Green. It remains to be seen if this combination is the final version for 2017.

Germany have 2 boats entered with the no.2 boat of Philipp Syring and Samuel Tieben looking the stronger. They raced in the M4X in Racice finishing 8th. The no.1 boat are both making their senior debuts. Ruben Steinhardt took bronze in the BM1X in 2013 and followed that with 4th in 2104. His partner, Henrik Runge raced in the BM4X at the 2016 U23 World Championships finishing 6th.

Other crews to mention are the Argentinians, Rodrigo Murillo and Cristian Rosso both of home missed qualification for Rio, and also the two Dutch crews Guillaume Krommenhoek and Lennart Van Lierop in NED1 and senior international debutants Gerard Van der Velden and Vincent Klassens.

My picks…should be a good battle between the Poles, Norwegians, Australians and New Zealanders. I’m going for a Norwegian gold with New Zealand in silver and the Poles in bronze.

 

M4-

10 crews

The British had an absolute nightmare at the European Championships finishing a distant 5th. They’ve made a change for Poznan with Matt Rossiter replacing Callum McBrierty and Will satch moving back to the stroke seat. Word is this new combination has “significantly” improved in speed and expectations are high for Britain’s flagship boat to return to the top of the podium.

But, the British face their nemesis – Australia. The Aussies have put together a very powerful unit stroked by Rio silver medallist Alex Hill. He’s joined by fellow Olympian spencer Turrin and senior internationals Josh Hicks and Jack Hargreaves. This is an impressive line-up and they would like nothing better than to get one over on the British.

The French will also be challenging for the medals, their crew of Edouard Joinville, Julian Montet, Benoit Demey and Benoit Brunet finished 1 place ahead of the British at the Europeans.

The Netherlands are having a great start to their 2017 season. They have selected a M4- from Nereus University all of whom were in the M8 that won the first World Cup. There is a rumour that this crew of Michiel Oyen, Jaap Scholten, Lex Van den Herik and Nelson Ritsma will be racing in the Visitors Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta…we’ll have to see when the entries are released later this week!

Poland are doubling up in the M8 with just one change from the crew that finished 4th in Belgrade with Krystian Aranowski moving back from the M2- that raced in Belgrade.

My picks….I think the Aussies will take it from a much-improved British boat with the Dutch in bronze.

 

M4X

10 crews

With the European champions from Lithuania absent it falls to the silver medallists from Poland to be the favourites on their home water. They now have the same line-up that raced to a 4th place at the Rio Olympics and look to be the class of the field.

Leading the chasing pack will be the British, they had a good race in Racice just running out of steam in the sprint to the line. With a few more weeks training now under their belts they could give the Poles a good run for their money. The British have a 2nd lightweight quad racing, but that too has seen some changes due to illnesses elsewhere in the squad. Will Fletcher was due to race in the LM2X but is ill and was to be replaced by Zak Lee-Green (who was originally in the 2nd M4X), but the decision was taken to withdraw the LM2X, so Lee-Green races the LM1X and in his place comes 19 year old U23 World Champion from Edinburgh Gavin Horsburgh to win his first senior international vest. He joins senior internationals Jamie Copus and Sam Mottram along with U23 medallist Ed Fisher.

New Zealand have a new look quad with just one returner (Nathan Flannery) from the boat that finished 10th in Rio. He’s joined by U23 medallists Cameron Crampton, Lewis Hollows and Giacomo Thomas. This looks a talented line-up and should develop nicely over the next couple of year. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in their first international appearance.

Australia haven’t selected a heavyweight M4X for 2017, instead they have their LM4X racing openweight in Poznan. This is a young crew with Hamish Parry and James Kerr having raced at U23 level and Sean Murphy making his first international appearance since the 2014 World Junior Championships. Only Redmond Matthews has raced at senior international level before when he competed at the Sydney World Cup back in 2013. It’ll be interesting to see how they get on against the GB lightweights

Germany have tweaked their line-up that finished a disappointing 8th in Racice. They have brought in Max Appel and Timo Piontek from the M2X that finished 4th in Racice. They will be hoping for a stronger performance than at the Europeans and an A-Final placing must be their objective at the very least.

The Dutch have kept the same line-up that finished 6th in Racice, with two Nereus scullers, Freek Robbers and Abe Wiersma joining University of California graduate Nikki Van Sprang and Phocas Rowing Club’s Koen Metsemakers. Another A-Final performance will be a good result for the young Dutch crew.

France have put together a strong line-up based around their Olympic M2X pairing of Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron. They are joined by the M2X from the European Championships Mickael Marteau and Thibaut Verhoeven. This is another crew that has the makings of a very quick boat. They will certainly be one of the medal contenders this weekend.

Norway finished 5th at Racice, but as mentioned above, Olaf Tufte has moved out of the crew to renew his doubles partnership with Kjetil Borch. Filling the great man’s shoes is Erik Solbakken. He raced the M1X at the Europeans finishing at the back of the B-Final. He also renews his partnership with Martin Helseth with whom he won silver in the BM2X at the U23 world Championships last year.

The final crew racing are the Chinese. They have made one change from the crew that missed qualifying for Rio with Xudi Yi making his international debut.

My picks….I think Poland will be too strong for the rest of the field with the British taking silver ahead of the French.

 

M8

5 crews

Germany will be the overwhelming favourites for this race. They are unchanged from the crew that won the European Championships with a crew that contains six Rio Olympians. But, one of the most exciting crews to watch in Poznan will be the New Zealand M8. They have 5 of the M8 from Rio along with fellow Olympian James Lassche who raced in the LM4-. It’s really interesting to see a number of former lightweight sweep oarsmen moving up into the heavyweight team now that the LM4- has been dropped from the Olympic programme.

GER M8 2017

Germany’s M8, winners of the 2017 European Championships

Poznan also sees the debut of the new-look Australian M8. It’s a development boat with 5 guys making their senior international debuts. Of the rest of the crew only Angus Moore has raced at a Senior World Championships finishing 7th in this boat class in 2014. They may find the completion a little too hot in Poznan.

Poland have made one change to the crew that won silver behind the Germans at the Europeans with Krystian Aaranowski returning to the crew for the first time this season replacing Bartosz Modrzynski. The Poles now have 7 of the crew that finished 5th in Rio.

The British will be pleased just to have a boat on the start line. Illness has forced coach Christian Felkel to make some radical changes. Olympic champion Tom Ransley has been ruled out following an emergency appendectomy, he’s replaced by Cameron Buchan and Tim Clarke is also missing replaced by Tom Jeffrey. Word is that more of the crew were suffering from illnesses last week but have recovered sufficiently to take their seats. The question is how fit is the crew? They may not be able to challenge the Germans for gold but will want to be challenging the Poles and Kiwis for the medals.

My picks…Germany comfortably ahead of the New Zealanders in silver with Poland finishing just ahead of the British to take the bronze.

 

LM1X

24 scullers

Switzerland’s Michael Schmid has made an excellent start to the 2017 season taking silver in Belgrade and followed that up with gold at the Europeans. He will, undoubtedly, start as favourite in Poznan.

Hungary’s Peter Galambos has been trading blows with Schmid all season. Galambos took the honours in Belgrade with Schmid gaining revenge in Racice. Round 3 in Poznan will be fun to watch.

These two look to be the class of the field and should be battling it out for the gold and silver. The battle for bronze will be more widespread, Norway’s Kristoffer Brun won bronze in the LM2X in Rio and took 4th in the LM1X at the Europeans. Germany have two scullers racing with Lars Wichert making his season’s debut following a 9th place in the LM4- in Rio. GER2 is Jonathan Rommelmann, he won silver in the BLM1X at the U23 World Championships last year following a silver medal in the LM4X at the senior worlds the year before.

New Zealand’s Matt Dunham subbed into the LM4- at the 2nd and 3rd World Cups in 2016 and won gold both times.

The Czech Republic also have 2 boats racing, CZE1 is Jiri Simanek who followed up an excellent silver in Belgrade with 7th place in the LM2X in Racice. CZE2 is the young Jan Cincibuch, 17th at the Europeans.

Slovakia’s Lukas Babac won bronze at last year’s World Championships but hasn’t quite hit that level so far this season with 5th in Belgrade and 8th in Racice.

Slovenia’s Rajko Hrvat finished 1 place behind Babac last year and pipped the Slovakian by one place at the Europeans.

The final sculler to mention is the USA’s Hug Mc Adam, 5th in the LM4X in 2015 and 9th in the LM1X at the 2nd World Cup last year.

My picks…Schmid for the gold ahead of Galambos with Wichert in bronze.

 

LM2-

4 crews

The Irish, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll have dominated this event this season with gold at both the 1st World Cup and the European Championships.

GB’s Sam Scrimgeour and Joel Cassells were World Champions in 2015 and European Champions in 2016, but so far this season haven’t shown that sort of form. 3rd of 4 in Belgrade and 4th in Racice was not the level they were expecting. It remains to be seen if they can recapture their gold medal form and challenge the Irish.

The third crew in the event are the Brazilians, Xavier Vela Maggi and Willian Giaretton, 9th in the world last year and 14th in the LM2X at their home Olympics.

The final crew in the event are the Turks although only one athlete has, so far, been named and he’s Abdallah Adouani who finished 3rd in the LM2X at the Final African Qualification Regatta in 2016.

My picks…pretty simple…Ireland make it 3 out of 3 with the British in silver and the Brazilians bronze.

 

LM2X

13 crews

The French, Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou, are the dominant crew in this event. The Olympic Champions opened their 2017 campaign with a good win at the European Championships.

 

Chasing the French in Rio and again in Racice were the Irish, Paul and Gary O’Donovan.  Always an incredibly popular crew on the circuit they’ve been getting faster and faster as the season progresses, whether they’ve developed enough speed to take down the French remains to be seen.

Behind these two crews the battle for bronze is likely to be between the Poles, Jerzy Kowaslki and Milosz Jankowski (3rd in Belgrade and 4th in Racice) and the Germans, Jason Osborne and Lucas Schaefer (5th at the Europeans).

The Austrian Seiber brothers have been racing in this boat class for the last 5 years and won the U23 BLM2X World title in 2012. Since then they’ve been a “there or thereabouts” crew; mid-B Final or back of the A-final. Poznan could well see them deliver a strong A-Final result.

The Chinese have two boats racing with CHN1 being Man Sun and Junjie Fan. Sun raced in this event at Rio finishing 11th and his partner Fan raced in the M8 at the 2015 World Championships finishing 12th. CHN2 is Guoqiang Zhao and Xin Guan. This duo are an unknown quantity as they are both making their international debuts.

The US men only have two boats racing in Poznan, both lightweights. The first is McAdam in the LM1X and the other is Chris Lambert-Rodgers and Peter Scmidt in the LM2X. This duo were in the LM4X that finished last at the 2016 World Championships.

My picks….Can’t see anyone beating the French for gold or the Irish for silver. The bronze however could be more interesting between the Germans and Polish, and I reckon the Poles will get the nod.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s