With only two days to go for CHALLENGEFAMILY‘s THECHAMPIONSHIP – the third edition of this flagship event – the tension for all the pro athletes is mounting. This was very obvious during the media conference just held, where pros making one thing clear: winning here in Samorin, Slovakia, is a highlighted goal in the season for almost everyone.
Title defender Lucy Charles (GBR) doesn’t feel any pressure anyways. “I just like this race and coming back year after year. I really love this venue and it’s definitely my most favourite race of the year.” Because of the low water temperature there is a possibility the swim will be shortened, of course the most favourite discipline for Charles. “But my bike and run are becoming better every year, so if the swim will be shortened: bring it on”, Charles smiled.
‘Didn’t sign up for an easy job’
Also Sebastian Kienle, the German runner-up of last year’s men’s race, is more than ready to race and take the victory this year. “But in a strong field like this, it won’t be easy of course. Luckily I didn’t sign up for an easy job. I always want to win in fair conditions and with strong triathletes to compete with. Even when this decreases my chances to win.”
One of the biggest contenders for Kienle seems to be Pieter Heemeryck. The Belgian is the current leader of the CHALLENGEFAMILY World Bonus and has won four Challenges in a row. “This race is my first main goal of the season. If you asked me two years ago if this was possible, I would say no. It’s like ‘when you’re idols become your rivals’ for me. I’m really looking forward to this race.”
Anything is possible
Also Florian Angert (GER) seems to be a hard rival in this years edition. “Last year I came back two minutes ahead of Kienle in last transition, and if I’m possible to manage this again, anything is possible because I’ve improved my run. This course here in Samorin suits me very well.”
From USA it’s Ben Kanute who is eager to show his best. “Most important: I like pain”, he was joking. “A Middle Distance means it’s going to be a long day anyway. I’m trying to follow my own race plan and trying to keep others away from theirs.”
Build up some strength
In the women’s race, most eyes are pointed on Charles. Still it’s pretty sure Australian Amelia Watkinson will make it a hard battle for her. “It’s nice for me to come at this new place. Traditionally a flat course isn’t suiting me, but I’ve done a lot of trainings in windy conditions and build up some strength for this race.”
Ellie Salthouse, also from Australia, is hoping for a dream race. “I’ve got the trainings under my belt I’ve wanted earlier years”, she was looking back on some injuries. “I’m trying to become better every day. For me having the right mentality is a key point in my season so far. What attracts me the most in the race here? That’s definitely the high class calibre of athletes starting.”
Can’t wait to start
Of course also Radka Kahlefeldt and Daniela Bleymehl has some good chances to end up on podium or win this years THECHAMPIONSHIP. Bleymehl: “I’m in a really great shape and I’m ready to wreck the bike course. My preparations were amazing and for me this is the first big race for which I can’t wait to start.”
For the official Livestream of THECHAMPIONSHIP go to: http://live.challenge-family.com/ .
The Live Coverage will start on Sunday June 2 at 8:45 am.
Photo Credit: Jose Luis Hourcade