Will it be Thomas Steger (AUT), Lukasz Wojt (GER), Kieran Lindars (GBR) or Tomas Renc (CZE) who returns home with the European Triathlon Long Distance title after Challenge Almere-Amsterdam this Saturday? Eyes are also on a number of Dutch favourites, including Evert Scheltinga, Milan Brons, Tristan Olij, Niek Heldoorn and Tom Oosterdijk. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) is one of the favourites for the overall victory, but is not eligible for the European title. In the women’s race, there is one big favourite for victory on her own turf: Els Visser from The Netherlands.
The level in the men’s race at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam promises a close race and it will be interesting to see how the race develops on Saturday. It is expected that Wojt will be first out of the water, with his past as a competitive swimmer he is one of the better swimmers within the triathlon world. Shortly behind are expected the other favourites, who will most likely have to go in pursuit on the bike.
On the bike, all eyes are on Starykowicz, who has come to Almere specifically because he likes the race so much. Last year he raced Challenge Almere-Amsterdam for the first time, but then had to end the race early after he received a slam to his ear during the swim, damaging his eardrum. On the bike he became very dizzy and that was the moment he ended the race. “But I’m coming for one thing now and that’s the win,” Starykowicz stated a few weeks ago, when he was preparing for Challenge Almere-Amsterdam.
As for the Dutch athletes, Evert Scheltinga seems to be the biggest favourite for a podium finish and perhaps even the overall victory. Scheltinga finished last year in 7:49, finished fourth overall and broke the Dutch Long Distance record that had been held by Jan van der Marel since 1999. Scheltinga has already let it be known that a great deal of pressure fell off his shoulders and that he now no longer has to look at times, but can really race for positions. Challenge Almere-Amsterdam was won by a Dutch male athlete for the last time in 2012, when Dirk Wijnalda won the race.
Among the women, the biggest battle is expected between Visser, German Lina-Kristin Schink and Portuguese Vanessa Pereira, with Visser appearing to be the all-time favourite for the home victory. Visser last raced in Almere in 2018; then she finished second behind Yvonne van Vlerken. Visser had an excellent start to the 2022 season, had to deal with some injury in the summer months, but now seems to be on the way back to finish the season in style with a maximum performance in Almere. Schink, however, has more experience on the course in Almere and will certainly do everything to be allowed to take place on the highest step of the podium. Pereira has competed in Almere twice before; in 2019 she had a DNF at the European Championships Long Distance and last year she finished thirteenth at the World Championships.
Challenge Almere-Amsterdam begins on Thursday 8 September with several side events. The European Triathlon Long Distance Championship takes place on Saturday 10 September as well as the Open Middle Distance.
The professional athletes will start from 7:10 am. The pro race will be fully broadcast via live stream via www.challenge-family.live.