Some of the biggest names in long distance racing are lining up to take on Challenge Sheppartonthis Sunday.
DATEV Challenge Roth champion Yvonne van Vlerken will line up for her first Shepparton experience. Van Vlerken is no stranger to Australia, she and partner Per Bittner have made Geelong, Victoria their training base for the past few years.
The 36-year-old Dutch woman has carved out an impressive career that includes five long course wins but her victory in Roth this year the sweetest of all.
“My partner Per Bittner and I are thrilled and so excited to spend our whole winter in Australia, the 2 months last year was too short.
“The experience we both had at Challenge Bateman’s Bay was amazing and for this reason we decided we want to race some more Challenge events “down under”.
“I’ve only heard good things off Challenge Shepparton and we are both looking forward to give it all in a great event on an awesome location,” said Van Vlerken.
Germany’s Bittner is a class athelte, finishing fourth in Roth this year amidst a world class field. He is one of the most consistance performaners and will add some European flair and competition.
Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt, who finished second last year, is back for redemption but will be battling to recover from a bunch cycling accident that left him with some hip discomfort.
“I’m excited to be returning to Challenge Shepparton again for this year. Shep always has a great atmosphere with a fast course and such good local support,” said Kahlefeldt.
Radka Vodickova, also finished second last year and returns with fiancée Kahlefeldt in search of a different coloured medal.
“Last year I raced in Shepparton and loved the race, although it was very cold and rainy day. Hard conditions usually suit me well, so I didn’t mind and was happy for my 2nd place.
“This year I am coming back and would like to change two things: Win the race and enjoy sunny weather. Love racing Challenge family races,” said Vodickova.
Three-time Shepparton winner Rebekah Keat returns to one of her favourite races and to the region she was born and bred in search of a fourth title.
“It’s such a fantastic event, a country race with such a great atmosphere. Having won three times before, it has great memories. I also love that it’s very close to Albury where I grew up, so I really feel relaxed and at home in Shepp,” said Keat.
Australia’s Luke Bell has had a very testing 2015 season but determined to end it on a positive race performance. A race that he has held the course record on for nearly ten year.
“Athletes like Terenzo Bozzone and Tim Reed have come close to the record, however it has stood the test of time.
“It will be good to get back to the Shepparton community and have a race at an event with such fond memories,” said Bell.
Other Aussies lining up is long-time training partner of world champion Jan Frodeno, Nick Kastelein who finished fourth at Shepparton last year.
Brisbane boy Sam Betten will make his Shepparton debut and is looking forward to his first Challenge experience. Betten will go into the race with a load of confidence after a win last weekend over the Olympic distance in the Philippines.
The same Shepparton hospitality race with a brand new look course has been received with overwhelming approval from athletes, sponsors and supporters.
The new course and venue introduced last year received overwhelming support from athletes, sponsors and locals. Now based in the city centre and includes a 1.9km swim in the stunning Victoria Park Lake, a two-lap 90km bike course on flat and fast roads and a three-lap 21.1km run encompassing the lake and trail tracks.
In addition to the professional field a huge age group contingent will also take on the challenge in this iconic Australian race established in 1997.
Challenge Shepparton offers a huge weekend of fun and options for everyone. It’s a jam packed program not just for triathletes but a kids triathlon, open water swim, fun run are just some of the options.