Many of our Super League Triathlon athletes came up through the ITU system together. On Super League Hamilton Island weekend Richard Varga (#12) had a constant shadow in the form of Andrea Salvisberg (#69), and for good reason. The two have been racing each other since 2006 and nearly always alongside each other as their abilities are nearly matched.
The close-quarters, three-day racing of Super League Triathlon brought their history of racing into stark relief for Salvisberg, who tracked down their races together and graphed their respective progress through the years. “It was fun to see I raced him so many times,” the multiple Swiss national champion said. “And it is great to see that we both improved over the years… We have similar good results! Swim and bike fast.”
“Sometimes one better, sometimes the other one,” noted Varga, the two-time Olympian. Coming up through the juniors, their first race against each other was at the 2006 ETU Autun European Championships in France where Salvisberg finished in 30th place, 29 places ahead of Varga. The results got closer and closer as both of them developed and entered elite competition.
As they became mainstays of the World Triathlon Series circuit they raced each other more often, even figuring in races within races: at WTS Cape Town 2016 they battled on a 400-meter sprint to the finish for 9th place.
The two grew into fierce competitors on course and great friends off course. “Richard and I are very similar in our life next to triathlon,” said Salvisberg. “I think that is why we get along so well.”
When they both secured berths for the 2016 Olympic Games, Salvisberg decided the best preparation would be alongside his friend and erstwhile rival. “I always enjoyed racing with him and that is why I asked him if I could join him in camp with the Brownlees -- but more because of him than the Brownlees.”
Varga recalled the Olympic preparation and race fondly. “He did the most of this important season together with us, training really hard and talking about how the race can go. And then we were going almost the whole race together, next to each other. That was cool,” he said. They finished within a few places of each other, Varga in 11th and Salvisberg in 16th.
For Salvisberg, the Super League Hamilton Island is the most memorable race he’s had with Varga. “We raced together and not against each other!” Varga finished in 5th and Salvisberg in 10th, but the overall result does not reflect how closely these two athletes contested each stage and each day of Super League Hamilton Island.
With more Super League Triathlon events on the horizon, expect more action and races within races from these world-class athletes.
photo by Delly Carr