Fachbach and Bij de Vaate crowned European champions in Almere
Outstanding performances in Challenge Amsterdam-Almere brought German Markus Fachbach and Heleen bij de Vaate from the Netherlands European titles long distance triathlon today. Fachbach controlled the race from the early stages of the bike, when he overtook last year’s winner Bart Colpaert from Belgium. Bij de Vaate had to overtake a lot of adversaries in the first 40 kilometers of the bike after a traditionally weak swim where she lost over 5 minutes to the competition.
Fachbach kept pushing the pace during the whole of the bike leg. After 180 kilometers he had a comfortable lead to start the marathon. While some of his rivals faded or eventually dropped out of the race, as happened to Georg Potrebitsch and Dutch Diederik Scheltinga, the win of Fachbach was never in any danger. Behind him Chris Fischer (DEN) moved into second place, passing David Näsvik (SWE). From behind came strong runner Sergio Marquez (POR), shortly followed by the surging Dirk Wijnalda. The 41-year old from The Netherlands remained constant during the marathon and in the last lap he passed Fischer for silver. Marquez fell short for the podium as an overwhelmed Fischer took the bronze. Veterans Petr Vabrousek (CZE) and Gerrit Schellens (BEL) rounded out the top six. Silver and bronze in the Dutch national championships went to Thijs Koelen and Bart Candel finishing eigth and tenth with Dejan Patrcevic (CRO) completing the top ten at rank nine.
Heleen bij de Vaate overcame a weak swim and worked her way through the field in the first hour of the bike section. The polder-grown Dutch had Tineke van den Berg trailing at about ten seconds until midway through the second lap. In heavy crosswinds on the dykes of Flevoland Bij de Vaate shook of her last competitor and went solo. She kept increasing her lead seconds at a time but never felt completely sure of the win until the very late stages of the marathon. Van den Berg kept pushing as well and was rewarded with silver. A fully orange podium was what the home crowds were hoping for, but Rahel Bellinga couldn’t hold on for bronze. Victoria Gill (GBR) came from behind for the remaining spot on the podium, beating the German athletes Celia Kuch, Lina Kristin Schink and Anna Kusch. Bellinga finished seventh, securing the bronze medal in the Dutch national championships.
Challenge Amsterdam-Almere hosted the ETU European Championships a third time in its 32 editions. It is the oldest triathlon in Europe. Over the weekend a grand total of 2200 athletes participate in various distances of triathlon, staging the biggest triathlon ever held in The Netherlands.