On Sunday there’s a lot at stake at CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM: athletes from all over the world will compete 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, attracting plenty of world-class athletes.
The men’s race, which starts on Sunday at 7:00am CEST, has a deep pro field. Former winners such as Jaroslav Kovacic, who won in 2018, and Kristian Hogenhaug, who finished second overall in 2019 but took the European title behind Matt Trautman, are back racing in Almere. Kovacic is perhaps a little stronger all-around, while Hogenhaug is known as a real uber biker. Both men will not settle for anything less than the win.
The weather forecast is fairly favourable, with temperatures around 20C, 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 characterised 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 (USA), 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. 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 favourite 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 favourite 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 strong battle is expected – at least on paper – between the Dane, Michelle Vesterby, and local favourite 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 has never won the race. This year she undoubtedly wants to change that.
Besides De Vries and Vesterby, Sarah Crowley – who started at DATEV CHALLENGEROTH powered by hep last weekend – and Marta Bernardi are serious contenders for medals.
CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM starts on Thursday, September 9 with the first side events, including the Junior Challenge and the RABO Business Relay. Friday, September 10, the programme includes an Open Series Middle Distance. Sunday, September 12 is also an Open Series Long Distance, in addition to the World Triathlon Championships Long Distance and Aquabike World Championships.
On Sunday, September 12, the World Championship Long Distance broadcast live on YouTube in full. The livestream will include commentary and can be found at 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 spectators are not permitted.