Next Sunday there’s a lot at stake during CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM: athletes from all over the world will be competing for the 2021 World Triathlon Long Distance Championships. The second oldest race in the world will host the World Championships Long Distance and World Championships Aquabike and of course that attracts a lot of world-class athletes.
The men’s race, which starts this Sunday at 07:00am CEST, has a deep, but also a wide top field. Former winners like Jaroslav Kovacic, who won in 2018, and Kristian Hogenhaug, who finished second overall in 2019 but did take the European title behind Matt Trautman, for example, are back racing in Almere. Kovacic, of them, is perhaps a little stronger all-around, while Hogenhaug is known as a real uberbiker. In any case, both men will not settle for anything less than the win.
For now, the weather forecast is fairly favorable, with temperatures around twenty degrees, not too much wind and a chance of at most an occasional rain shower. That’s good news for the participants, because CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM is characterized by the course that runs through the polder, is below sea level and where the wind can strike mercilessly. Someone who wouldn’t mind that is Andrew Starykowicz, who is probably the best biker of all the participating professional athletes and has already let it be known that he wants to ride the bike record out of the books. After that, it remains to be seen what he can do during the marathon. Maybe the biggest question is Thomas Steger. In the Middle Distance he is known for his almost unearthly running pace, but he has never finished a Long Distance before. On a good day – if it turns out that he can also handle the longer distance – Steger might well be a contender for the World Title.
Two men for whom that also applies are local favorite Evert Scheltinga and Spaniard Pablo Dapena Gonzalez. For Scheltinga – who has been competing in Almere for years and considers the home race one of his favorite races – this year might be the year to look for the podium, and maybe even the top step. Dapena Gonzalez is always good but will probably also have to get used to the Long Distance.
In the women’s race, a lot of battle is expected – at least on paper – between the Danish Michelle Vesterby and local favorite Sarissa de Vries. Especially De Vries has had a great season so far, with wins at CHALLENGERICCIONE and CHALLENGEGDANSK, a second place at ANFI CHALLENGEGRANCANARIA and a seventh place at CHALLENGEFAMILY THECHAMPIONSHIP. De Vries was on the podium in Almere before, but she never won the race. This year she undoubtedly wants to change that.
Besides De Vries and Vesterby, Sarah Crowley – who started at CHALLENGEROTH last weekend – and Marta Bernardi are serious contenders for medals.
CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM starts tomorrow – Thursday, September 9 – with the first Side Events, including the Junior Challenge and the RABO Business Relay. Friday, September 10, the program includes an Open Series Middle Distance. Sunday, September 12 is also an Open Series Long Distance, in addition to the World Championships Long Distance and Aquabike World Championships. On Sunday, September 12, the World Championship Long Distance will be broadcast live on YouTube all day. The livestream will include commentary and can be found at http://www.challenge-family.live. Here you will also find a live tracker and social media updates. In addition, there is an app to follow athletes directly and the race will be broadcast via Facebook Live. Due to COVID-19 measures public isn’t allowed.