Double Dutch Delight in Ameland

Double Dutch Delight in Ameland

By ITU Admin on 15/09/08 at 12:01 am

The national champions of the Netherlands both managed to become Cross Triathlon European Champions on the island of Ameland in the Netherlands. Ingrid Van Lubek and Rob Barel made it a sweet day for the Dutch, sweeping gold in the elite women’s and men’s contests on Saturday.  Barel is no stranger to European success, winning the first four European triathlon championships from 1985 to 1988, and taking silver the next three years from 1989 to 1991.

In the women’s race, Polish Olympian Maria Czesnik and Sibylle Matter from Switzerland exited the water almost two minutes ahead of Van Lubek from the Netherlands.  She had won the race on Ameland several times and did not panic but started the catch up with the leaders. After only eight kilometres Van Lubek overtook both athletes and stayed ahead for the rest of the race.  She was not challenged and cruised to the European title by more than three minutes.

Behind her the race for silver was on between Matter, Riika Kelja of Finland and the Dutch Judy van den Berg.  Kelja, who had won in Ameland twice before, got close to the other two but could not hold on during the run.  The superior cycling skills of Van den Berg brought her to second place, followed by Matter. During the run Matter pulled away from the Dutch athlete to finish second, three minutes behind Van Lubek.  Van den Berg followed 19 seconds later to take the bronze.

2008 Ameland ETU Cross Triathlon European Championships
1.5km swim, 35 km mountain bike, 12km cross-country run
Elite Women – Official Results
Gold - Van Lubek, Ingrid (NED) 02:58:04  
Silver - Matter, Sibylle (SUI) 03:01:01  
Bronze - Van Der Berg, Judy (NED) 03:01:20
Click here for full field results

On the men’s side, the big story was the absence of last year’s gold and silver medallists Eneko and Hector Llanos of Spain, which paved the way for a new champion.  Mikko Vastaranta from Finland took the lead during the swim and was closely followed by Tim Dullaart from the Netherlands.  Other favourites lost more than two minutes.  On the beach the eastern wind was the main enemy for Vastarana and Dullaart as both rode alone.  Behind them Barel and Dutch compatriot Johan Neevel worked together, first overtaking Dullaart and after 30 kilometres, they also caught up with Vastaranta. 

Further back a larger group that included Belgian Paul Embrechts and the Dutch athletes Rorik Schouten and Machiel Ittman also gained on the leader.  Vastaranta was the first out of the transition followed directly followed by Barel.  Neevel followed at his own pace, finishing as number six.  Early in the run Barel slowly ran away from the Fin. Going downhill Vastaranta could not keep up and once they hit the beach, Barel increased his speed, outpacing Vastartanta.  After 2 hours, 37 minutes and 40 seconds, Barel, aged 52, became European champion of cross triathlon.  Embrechts finished one and a half minutes later followed by Vastaranta another 40 seconds later. 

Barel later declared that after the swim he did not believe he could catch up with the leaders. But the cycling went very well, also because of the good team work with Neevel.

2008 Ameland ETU Cross Triathlon European Championships
1.5km swim, 35 km mountain bike, 12km cross-country run
Elite Men – Official Results
Gold - Barel, Rob (NED) 02:37:40  
Siver - Embrechts, Paul (BEL) 02:39:16  
Bronze - Vastaranta, Mikko (FIN) 02:39:59  
Click here for full field results

The bronze medallist from 2007, Ruben Bravo from Spain, left the water in sixth place but the cycling was too much for him.  With no support on the beach he spend all his energy and withdrew from the race.

The European championships are part of the annual Tri-Ambla race. This year more than 500 athletes, including 80 children, competed against each other and the elements on the Island Ameland, an island of natural beauty in the Wadden Sea.

For the under23 field, the Dutchman Dullaart stayed in front for a long time, even being number two overall until late in the biking stages.  He finished in fourth place in the under23 category and 12th overall.  Slovakian Peter Mosny became under23 champion.  After a poor swim, the winter triathlon specialist showed his superb mountain bike skills and had enough energy left for the run.  He was followed by Dutch athletes Lesley Derks who took the silver and Sven Strijk in third place.

The weather made for a special event on Ameland.  The Eastern wind created a choppy sea which presented quite a challenge for the athletes.

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