‘I’m ready for it, I can’t wait and I’m keen on an excellent result.’ These words were spoken by nearly every athlete on the press conference for CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM’: Yvonne van Vlerken, Evert Scheltinga, Youri Severin and Tjardo Visser.
Van Vlerken is most likely the biggest contender in the women’s race. The Dutch, now living in Austria, really wants to become Dutch champion, European champion and wants to break the race record (8.56.23). ,,It’s very special for me to be back in Almere after almost ten years. This is my main goal for this year. Almere brings so many beautiful memories, so much emotion. It’s my dream for months to win in Almere. And yes, I’m going for that race record, but that’s depending on the weather.”
Among the men, best chances seem to be for the English Joe Skipper and German Jan Raphael. But also the Dutch Evert Scheltinga seems like a big contender and really wants to finish around – or even under – 8 hours. ,,That would be very nice. This is my first season as Long Distance triathlete and I finished my first in South Africa (8.31) earlier this year. Directly after finishing, I decided to start another one this year. But after my second (Frankfurt, 8.05) I registered for another one, Almere. I’m much warned that it’s very heavy to start three times a year, especially when it’s your first year as LD triathlete, but I think I can handle it. My level is great now. I hope to get out of the water in the front, stay there while cycling and then see where it ends while running.”
And then there is the battle for ‘best Almeerder’, which will take the ‘Ruud Graman Trophy’. Youri Severin and Tjardo Visser seem to have the biggest chances for that one. ,,But above all, it is my goal to break the ‘Almeers record’ of Dennis van Hinte (8.34)”, said Severin. ,,For me it’s crucial to swim hard, get some time there and then race my own ride on the bike. I can loose the race while cycling. I hope we don’t have crosswinds on the long road to Lelystad. I’m not very powerful. But I rode the cycling course at least 50 or 60 times, so know exactly how the wind can blow.”
And Visser? He is hoping for, yes, crosswinds on the road to Lelystad. ,,I’ve just heard that my chances are bigger then”, he jokes. ,,No, for me it is important to stick to my own plan, don’t follow anyone and do my own thing. I’m not strong enough to follow a group. I know there is yet a marathon to come, where I can win some time. So, I have to wait a little bit longer than the average athlete, but can go all-in while running.
And, last but not least, great news from Rabobank Director Ugur Özcan. ,,This is a wonderful event. We continue to support this for at least another two years.”