The premiere edition of FORD CHALLENGEPRAGUE (1,9 km swimming + 90 km cycling + 21,1 km run) held on Saturday in the capital city of the Czech Republic was won by Pieter Heemeryck and British triathlete Lucy Charles, the gold woman from The Championships in Šamorín 2017. Huge crowd of Czech fans was pleased by success of home athletes – Pavel Petrásek finished on the seventh place and Simona Křivánková was fourth. The challenge of a shorter race – called TRY-ATHLON – was taken by number of amateur athletes including local celebrities as the Olympic champion in decathlon Roman Šebrle, cardiologist Jan Pirk and opera singer Jiří Langmajer. The Olympic champion in cross country skiing Kateřina Neumannová took a part in the relay event.
The triathletes from Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands were meant to be the biggest favorites in Prague – and the scenario of the event was in their hands. A lot of them were pleased by the profile of the cycling course and fascinated by the atmosphere in the centre of Prague.
“It was really hot weather so the race was quite difficult. I really liked the cycling part of the event. And to finish with the view of beautiful Prague was great. My coach Luboš Bílek wanted me to compete in Prague and I am really satisfied that I not only compete but won here,” said Pieter Heemeryck. He was joined by two Germans on the podium – second Andreas Dreitz and third Patrick Dirksmeier.
Lucy Charles was a dominant in women’s event: “It was an amazing race. I really pushed hard and enjoyed it. The profile of cycling course was pretty exceptional. There were a lot of spectators by the course so the atmosphere in the centre of Prague was great.” The second place was won by Yvonne Van Vlerken from the Netherlands and Ewa Bugdol from Poland.
The best Czech athletes Pavel Petrásek and Simona Křivánková – both finished in TOP 10 – reached one of their best results of the season so far.
“It was a difficult race for me. I didn’t catch the guys before me in the cycling part and was not able to close the gap in running part as I cramped. If anybody said to me before the race that I finish as the best Czech competitor I wouldn’t believe. So I am satisfied,” said Petrásek. Křivánková missed the podium by 40 seconds. “I believed there is a chance I could finish in the first six so I am really satisfied. It was my first race in Prague and it was a nice experience as there were so many home athletes on the start.”
Before the professionals started their event, the centre of Prague hosted the challenge for not so experienced athletes called TRY-ATHLON. The race of 380 m of swimming – 18 km cycling and 4.2 km running – was won by Germans Matthias Grosser and Claudia Mai. The event was attended by number of Czech celebrities including Roman Šebrle. The 2004 Olympic champion in decathlon finished on the eight place in his age group, 27th overall.
“I have really enjoyed the race and would like to repeat it again. Swimming and cycling were quiet interesting for me. I swam half of the course as freestyle and the other half as breaststroke and thanks to the neoprene swimming suit from the organizers I felt comfortable in the water. I joined the group of three people on the cycling course and tried to hold them firm. The cycling was not bad at all, better than I expected. And the run? It took me a while to get the right pace but at the end I felt well. Triathlon is really a nice sport,” Šebrle said in the finish.
One of the best Czech cardiologists Jan Pirk managed to finished the race in Prague for the third time. “This is a beautiful race and everybody who practices regularly can this distance execute with a smile,” he said.
1. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:47:45
2. Andreas Dreitz (GER) 3:49:15
3. Patrick Dirksmeier (GER) 3:54:36
1. Lucy Charles (GBR) 4:11:21
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:19:56
3. Ewa Bugdol (POL) 4:23:24
The complete results to find on www.challenge-prague.com