ALMERE- Jan Raphael lived up to our expectations today: with impressive show of strength, he won the 2016 edition of Challenge Almere-Amsterdam. After a decent swim he got away from the rest of the field on the bike and increased his lead further and further. Camille Deligny won the women’s race. After finishing third last year, she now took gold in a very exciting race.
Supreme achievement of Raphael
Raphael had a decent swim by being in the lead group of five, but took the lead immediately after getting on the bike. Checked though determined, he was able to create a distance between himself and the rest of the field with the German Christian Otto, Polish Marek Jaskolka and Youri Severin in the first chase pack. After about 90 km, they were joined by a second larger chase group, consisting of Erik-Simon Strijk, Dirk Wijnalda, Scottish Graeme Stewart and others. Wijnalda, who performed very well on the swim course, had a comfortable position in this chase pack of 9 and could prepare for his marathon, usually his best part of the race. After the 180km bike leg, Raphael reached the Transition Area with a convenient 12 minute advantage. By running a fast pace the first two rounds, he wanted to strengthen his position, so he told us afterwards. His pace was so promising that he was on track to break the course record of Jan van de Marel (7u 57) dated from 1999, but he eventually finished a great 8.03.43. Dirk Wijnalda started the marathon in second position, which he was able to retain. With an outstanding 2.49.59 run Wijnalda even made up some time on Raphael, but he turned out to be out of reach. Polish Marek Jaskolka overtook Erik-Simon Strijk in the last kilometers of the race and took the bronze. Strijk finished fourth, Diederik Scheltinga fifth, which made them number 2 and 3 in the Dutch Championship race.
Weerd needs to dig deep
The women’s race turned out as a turbulent battle for the gold. As expected, Mirjam Weerd took several minutes on the swim, but was not able to follow a very strong Camille Deligny on the bike leg. The two women entered the Transition Area with more than a 20 minute lead. Last years winner Kathrin Walther had already lost precious time and would get out the race after the bike leg. Deligny, who finished third last year, started the marathon in leading position, but halfway, Weerd caught up on her. They seemed to start taking turns, but at 28km Weerd got in trouble. She lost several minutes and even seemed to miss the podium, due to an unleashed Simona Krivankova. Krivankova had company of Erica Csomor (HUN), and the three women got into a heavy battle for second and third spot. But Weerd was able to dig deep. She finished second and thanked the cheering crowd while being very emotional. Simona Krivankova took the bronze with an outstanding marathon, which made her make up the almost 20 minute backlog on Weerd.