Baku's Bilgah Beach has played host to what has been hailed as Azerbaijan’s first-ever triathlon with a month to go until the inaugural European Games.
The 13-athlete event, was organised by Baku 2015 in association with the Azerbaijan Triathlon Federation, which was only founded in June 2013, six months after the continental multi-sports event was awarded to the capital city.
Bilgah Beach is also set to stage triathlon action during the Games, with 65 athletes competing in the women’s event on June 13, and the same number participating in the men’s event the following day.
“It was a great event,” said Jorge García, technical delegate from the European Triathlon Union (ETU).
“The venue is amazing and we had the opportunity to test everything well ahead of time.
“We are really looking forward to the competition during the Baku 2015 European Games.”
Located just north of the host city centre and close to the Athletes’ Village, Bilgah Beach was confirmed last September as the venue for the triathlon, bringing an end to concerns over the swimming leg of the competition due to oil pollution in local waters.
International Triathlon Union (ITU) secretary general Antonio Arimany admitted a year ago that the issue of pollution was "a concern" for both the ITU and the ETU.
As a worst-case scenario, it was suggested that a duathlon competition consisting only of cycling and running would be held, meaning the sport would still feature but no longer serve as a qualifying competition for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Pierce O'Callaghan, Baku 2015 director of sport, gave assurances the chosen venue, well-known as a luxurious seaside resort that is popular with both locals and tourists alike, was up to the required standards, and stands by that following the test event.
“Triathlon is a young, but growing, sport in Azerbaijan and this event gave us the opportunity to test all areas of our operation ahead of the European Games,” he said.
“I’m delighted to say that everything went as planned, from the logistics and transitions to the transport arrangements and medical provision.
“Bilgah Beach provided a beautiful backdrop to the event and I’m sure the triathlon will prove to be one of the stand-out events of Baku 2015.”
Both the men's and women's races at the Baku 2015 European Games will consist of the Olympic-standard 1500 metres swim, 40 kilometres cycle and 10km run.
September 2014: Baku 2015 announce triathlon venue to quash oil pollution concerns for swimming leg
June 2014: Baku 2015 "fully confident" suitable triathlon swimming venue will be found after oil pollution concerns