Press conference: ‘Challenge Almere-Amsterdam is the most important race of the year’

It’s only 10 days left until the start of CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM and things are starting to get really exciting. More than 3700 athletes, from no less than 56 different countries, are preparing for the European Championships Long Distance, the ever-popular Middle Distance or one of the many other side-events. The first pros are already in town and were present at tonight’s press conference. One thing is certain: they will give it their all on September 14th, to perform as best as possible.

Yvonne van Vlerken: ‘Things have come full circle now’

The most striking name is of course Yvonne van Vlerken, who announced earlier today that she will race Almere and this is going to be her last race as a pro. “This is the place where it all started for me and now this is going to be the end as well. Things have come full circle now. This is the place where I want to finish my 45th and last Long Distance. For me it isn’t possible to train as much as needed to race on this level, so I want to quit on the best way possible.”

That most beautiful farewell has to come along with a victory and an European title. “But of course my preparation is minimal: only three weeks ago I decided to participate in Almere. But, I feel very fit and rested. Maybe training is just overrated”, she jokes.

Caleb Noble: ‘I almost got blown away’

Among the men, the Australian Caleb Noble joined the press conference. An athlete with a lot of experience on short distance races and several top ten rankings at World Cups. “But since last year I have a pro license for the Long Distance: a distance that is new to me. I’ve been in Almere for a week already and I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of wind here. During my first ride I almost got blown away”, he laughs. “I’m going to give it my best shot to finish as good as possible and get the most out of myself.”

Noble can expect resistance from Evert Scheltinga, most likely the best Dutch athlete at the start line. “I’m aiming for at least the podium. Mentioning a time is hard for me, because it depends on the weather conditions. At least I’m looking forward to the race and I can’t wait to start.”

Also Steff Overmars, a local based triathlete, can’t wait to give it a go. “My season is not very good so far, but my preparations are perfect. I am especially aiming for the Dutch Championship podium. Almere feels like a home race for me, so this is the place I want to perform as best as possible. Overall, there are too many good athletes which I probably can’t match, but for the Dutch Championship there is quite a lot possible.”

Tjardo Visser: ‘Most important race of his season’

For local favourite Tjardo Visser CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM will also be the most important race of his season. He hopes – although he doesn’t say it out loud – to improve his personal record of 8:39hr and actually prefers to finish under 8:30hr. “This is just the most amazing race of the season. I have my full focus on it. I guess it’s not smart to share my time goals, but on a really good day that 8:30hr is possible.”

Another local athlete is Sharon Zuijdervliet. Last year she completed her first Long Distance in Almere and this year she wants to improve herself. “It would be great if I finish somewhere between 10:15hr and 10:30hr.”