Can continental champion Crippa regain his European 10,000m Cup crown?

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  • Can continental champion Crippa regain his European 10,000m Cup crown?

Reigning European 10,000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa will be looking to make a statement at the European 10,000m Cup in Pacé, France on Saturday (3).

The 26-year-old Italian has been preparing specifically for the Cup in the Italian Alps since he finished fifth in the Milano Marathon on 2 April, his debut at the classic distance.

His time in Milan of 2:08:57 was a solid result, if not spectacular, for the Italian 10,000m record-holder with 27:10.56, clocked at the 2019 World Athletics Championships. He was bidding to break the Italian marathon record but fell more than a minute short of his target in Milan however, with apparently no ill-effects from his efforts, Crippa is feeling optimistic he can regain the men’s Cup crown he placed upon his head in 2019.

Such has been Crippa’s focus on the Cup, that he has only broken his training to contest a 10km race on the roads of Monza two weeks ago when he set a personal best of 28:02.

“It was a good race. I started well although in the last two kilometres I lost a bit of pace. I also tried to push in the final stretch but the path [to the finish line] was slightly uphill and I felt a little tired. But it was definitely a good test and the ‘road’ to the European 10,000m Cup is going well. I'm happy and I’ll go back to altitude and continue my preparation,” reflected Crippa shortly after his Monza victory.

Crippa will start as favourite in Pacé on the basis of both his gold medal in Munich last summer and the fact that he holds the fastest lifetime best of the 58 men's entrants – and he is the only man in Pacé to have run faster than the Cup record of 27:14.44 set by Spain’s Fabian Roncero back in 1999 – but the race for victory could still be very competitive.

Another leading name possibly to enter medal consideration is Germany’s Nils Voigt, who clocked a big personal best of 27:30.01 in March partly, he believes, as a result of changing his high-altitude training environment from Kenya to Flagstaff, USA.

Voigt is one of four athletes on the Cup start lists to have broken the 28 minute-barrier in 2023. He also knows what Cup racing is about after having finished fourth in 2021 and eighth last year.

However, the German failed to finish in a high-quality 10,000m race in London two weeks ago, which was his initial target, so there has to be question marks about his current form coming into Pacé.

In the team contest, France have taken the men’s title for the last two years but the Italian team – which also contains Iliass Aouani who set a national record of 2:07.16 in the Barcelona Marathon in March, and Crippa’s older brother Nekagenet – look on paper very strong as do Spain despite the late withdrawal on the eve of the Cup by Carlos Mayo who was third and second at the last two editions..

After team gold in 2022, can Reh win individual gold in 2023?

The women’s Cup races see the return of Germany’s Alina Reh to the fray.

Reh finished as the silver medallist last year and led Germany to their first-ever women’s Cup team title. This year, she will be aiming to go one better and become just the second German individual women’s winner after Sabrina Mockenhaupt in 2005.

Reh’s best time of 31:19.87 over 25 laps of the track dates from 2019 and also makes her the fastest women in the Cup by almost half-a-minute.

However, although she had some excellent early season performances on the roads, including a 1:08:62 personal best half marathon in Seville in January, she could only finish a disappointing fifth in the German 10,000m championships last month won by Domenika Mayer in 32:14.34.

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If the Germans fall short of their best form it could provide an opportunity for the Spanish pair of Isabel Barreiro and Cristina Ruiz to shine and add to the country’s historic tally of 24 gold medals, which makes them the most successful country in the 26-year history of the European 10,000m Cup.

Barreiro, who just missed out on a continental medal when finishing fourth in the 2021 European U23 5000m, impressed when winning Trofeo Iberico – the annual 10,000m match between Spain and Portugal – in March in a personal best of 32:03.37 while Ruiz was not far behind in third in 32:08.70, also a personal best, and they travel to Pacé as the fastest two women on 2023 form.

With three to score, the women’s team title might well be fought between defending champions Germany and Spain, the latter last winning a decade ago in 2013.

However, Great Britain, led by Abbie Donnelly who set a personal best of 32:10.16 in London two weeks ago and who have won the women’s team title five times in the last seven years, could also be a factor.

The European 10,000m Cup will be streamed live through the European Athletics YouTube channel from 1825 CEST local time and there will also be comprehensive race day coverage on the European Athletics website, including live results, as well as across the European Athletics social media channels. 

Phil Minshull for European Athletics

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