By David Peddie on 08/06/12 at 9:58 pm
A host of triathletes from around Europe will embark on the gruelling challenge of the ETU Challenge Kraichgau Long Distance European Championships this weekend in a landmark event on the European race calendar.
The European Triathlon Union and the Challenge Family have joined forces to create a unique partnership for Long Distance triathlon races.
Denis Jaeger, Executive Board member for the European Triathlon Union, believes this race will be one of the most exciting European Long Distance Championships and has hailed the role of the Challenge Family.
He said: ‘The ETU were committed to finding top level championships for our Long Distance athletes. Long Distance events have a huge potential to attract the many skilled and talented athletes from across Europe.
“Challenge’s reputation for organising top level races is impressive and the ETU was delighted to work together with Challenge to bring an exciting new location to our race calendar.
“Challenge have been able to accommodate every Elite and Age Group athlete who want to race and compete for their country and we thank Challenge for their efforts.
‘We know we will have a successful race and we hope to prolong the collaboration between ETU and Challenge for years to come.”
The CEO of Team Challenge, Felix Walchshöfer, also praised the event. He said: "Kraichgau is the global flagship of the Family Challenge and this competition in 2012 proves the organisers can come up with one of the strongest field of athletes there has ever been.”
After a fantastic year in 2011, Andreas Raelert (GER) will return to Kraichgau looking to defend his title but he will come up against two tough competitors in local hero Sebastien Kienle (GER) from Karlsruhe and Timo Bracht (GER).
Kienle is aiming for a repeat of his victory in 2009 in what is his home race and he was in bullish mood at a press conference today. He said: “I want to win and Andi Raelert must be 100% if he wants to defend his title.”
An exciting race is also expected in the Women’s Elite race. Last year's runner-up Julia Gajer, (nee Wagner), is in her second year as a pro and will be a contender here.
Alongside Sonja Tajisch, Gajer has been one of the fastest athletes from Germany on long-distance courses.
Yvette Grice (GBR) finished fifth last year in Kraichgau and Gina Crawford, an eight-time Iron distance champion is perhaps one of the biggest threats.
That’s not to discount last year’s winner Yvonne Van Vlerken, who said at a press conference: “Sunday will be a tough race, even more than 2011. There will be six or seven ladies in with a chance of winning at the end."
Along with the Elite athletes, many Age Groupers will complete the 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21km run course.
Both the swim and the bike are one lap, with the bike leg taking in over 1100m in hill climbs.
The 21km run is divided into 3 laps of 7km and will take the athletes through the town and into forests and woodland.
Live timing and live footage of the race will be available online at http://www.challenge-kraichgau.com/en/ from 0900 local time on Sunday 10th June.
Picture: Athletes Sebastian Kienle, Timo Bracht and Yvonne van Vlerken, Julia Gajer and Sonia Tajsich at the press conference earlier today.
Find more details about this event - 2012 Kraichgau ETU Challenge Long Distance Triathlon European Championships