All eyes will be on Horst Du Mas this weekend for the ETU Powerman European Long Distance & Sprint Duathlon European Championships.
In a unique competition, championed by both the ETU and Powerman, the Duathlon European Championships will host a Long Distance and Sprint Distance Duathlon the first time, offering a full day of exciting racing to spectators.
Elite Men Preview
An intriguing battle between two Belgian athletes, ITU World champion Joerie Vansteelant (BEL) and Pieter Rijnders (BEL) is sure to feature in the weekend’s racing.
The duo have been battling together at recent domestic competitions; Vansteelant beat Rijnders at Ruddervoorde Duathlon last weekend but Rijnders came out on top at the Geluwe Duathlon in March.
Vansteelant is a double World Champion and the reigning champion following victory in the ITU Long Distance Duathlon in Zofingen last year. However, with no International titles to his name, Rijnders will be keen to record a victory over his rival at this level.
National Belgian champion Wim De Cort suffered from a fall on the bike a few weeks ago, but showed he had made a full recovery by winning the French Long Distance Duathlon in Douai.
As always the French contingent come armed with some serious contenders and Anthony Le Duey (FRA) was 5th in Zofingen last year and will race alongside Yannick Cadalen and David Duquesnoy.
The home crowd will be cheering for Wim Nieuwkerk (NED) in his final season as a pro athlete but Raimond van der Boom (NED) posted a top 20 in Zofingen last year and maybe the best hope for the home spectators.
Matt Moorhouse (GBR – 6th in Zofingen 2011), Sergey Yakovlev (RUS – 4th in Gijon 2011) and Soren Bystrup (DEN – 4th Zofingen 2011) are also contenders and Raphael Baugh of Australia could well upset the European party.
The Elite Men Long Distance Duathlon starts at 0920 on Sunday 29th April 2012.
Elite Women Preview
The Women’s race is equally intriguing and the scene is set for an epic battle as six out of last year’s top seven at Zofingen line up on the start list.
Top favourite for the Women’s title is the May Kerstens (NED) who won the Powerman World Ranking in 2011.
Ulrike Schwalbe (GER), Erika Csomor (HUN) and Eva Nystrom (SVE) should all be in contention and Stefanie Bouma (NED) and Lucy Gossage (GBR) make their Long Distance debuts.
Gossage is the British Elite Duathlon Champion and just last week she finished 2nd in Challenge Fuerteventura, finishing ahead of Nystrom and Csomor.
Katrin Esefeld (GER) was World Long Distance Champion in 2010 and has three European Duathlon Championships to her name in the last three years (2 as an Age grouper).
The Elite Women’s Long Distance Duathlon starts at 0900 on Sunday 29th April 2012.
The Long Distance course is 15km run/ 60km bike/ 7.5km run
It is the same run course for both segments, the opening run is 6 laps and the second run is 3 laps. The 60km cycle is split into 3x20km laps and overall this is one of the flattest courses on the circuit.
Four Para-triathletes are also competing in the Long Distance Duathlon Championships. In TRI-5, Alessandro Colombo (ITA), Mikel Garmendia (ESP) and Francisco Jesus San Martin Nemesio (ESP). Garmendia finished 3rd in Gijon last year.
TRI-4 is represented by Joaquin Carrasco (ESP) who finished 4th in Gijon in his classification last year.