Pro athletes can’t wait for Challenge Almere-Amsterdam: ‘A mentally tough, but above all amazing race’.

One thing became clear during today’s pro press conference: all athletes are aiming for the win during CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM. All athletes called it a mentally hard, but also spectacular triathlon. “This is where you want to be as good as possible. This is where you want to show what you are worth. This is where you want to be on the podium.”

Yvonne van Vlerken: ‘Showing the best race to beat me’

For Yvonne van Vlerken this only is possible one more time: CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM is for sure – as previously announced – her farewell race. “This will certainly be my last Long Distance. In the winter I will decide if it will be my very last race ever. In Almere it all started for me, so there is no better place to stop as well.” For Van Vlerken it’s going to be her 45th Long Distance, but still she is aiming for the win. “I’m racing for nothing less. All the women have to race their best if they want to beat me here”, she said with a smile.

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Yvonne van Vlerken (Photo: José Luis Hourcade)

Lina-Kristin Schink: ‘I’m going to make it difficult for Yvonne; why not?’

One of the ladies who can make things difficult for Van Vlerken is the German Lina-Kristin Schink. Last year she finished third in Almere. “I feel very strong and am very well prepared. I certainly want to make it hard for Yvonne: why not?” In 2013 Schink was at the start in Almere for the first time, but then she didn’t make it to the finish. In the following years she became sixth, fifth and third. “This is my favourite race of the year and it seems to me to be a good moment to take a step up again.”

Kathrin Walther: ‘Doing what I like the most’

Kathrin Walther, previously winner in Almere, will mainly race her own race. This is because the German triathlete had a scooter accident two years ago and she was diagnosed as never being able to run again. “I have really struggled with my health, but I’m here! My main goal now is to reach the finish line, feel strong and be happy. I’m not really looking at the other ladies, who will be at the start here with a completely different attitude. I do this because I just follow my passion. Doing what I like the most.”

Kristian Høgenhaug: ‘Full gas’

In men’s race, most eyes may be focussed on two Danes: Kristian Høgenhaug and Morten Brammer Olesen. Høgenhaug recently won a big race in Germany. “While I went there without any goal and just saw it as a training race. That race gave me a lot of confidence and motivation. In Almere I’m going full steam ahead. Especially on the bike and while running we see what happens.”

Morten Brammer Olesen: ‘Aiming for a good result’

His compatriot Morten Brammer Olesen, who recently finished in a 7:53 hour race, is looking forward to the fast, flat course in Almere. “I always thought I was only good on hilly and technical courses, but that doesn’t seem to be the truth. I’ll try to improve some details in my race tomorrow and then I can achieve a great result for sure.”

Matt Trautman: ‘Head down and just go’

The South African Matt Trautman is also expected to be a good finisher, even though he is not participating in the European Championship. “I come here for a fast time. This season I started racing relatively late, but I try to continue every race at the level I have at that moment. On this course it’s just ‘head down and go’. You have to be mentally strong and focused all day.”

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From left to right: Kristian Hogenhaug, Matt Trautman and Evert Scheltinga. (Photo: José Luis Hourcade)

Evert Scheltinga: ‘I love it here’

Dutch athlete Evert Scheltinga is also ready for the race and is keen to finish on the podium. I love it here: the organisation is always perfect and the public is always enthusiastic. This year there will be even more public, because it is an European Championship. Many people think that Almere is an easy race, because it is so flat. But believe me: it isn’t easy.”