Emotional victory for De Vries at Long Distance World Championships
Leading the race from beginning to end, local triathlon star Sarissa De Vries (NED) became the 2021 World Triathlon Long Distance Champion in Almere, with the fastest race of her career. French Manon Genet claimed second place while the bronze medal was for Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby, the three of them stopping the clock well under nine hours of racing.
It was one of the race favourites, Camilla Pedersen (DEN), long distance world champion in 2014, who dictated the race at the very beginning, but always with one athlete right at her feet from the first meters of the swim: Dutch local, Sarissa de Vries. Both of them swam together leading comfortably for the 3.8km of the swim, cruising the lake and catching some of the elite men who had started their race five minutes earlier.
The two athletes kept increasing their lead so that when they exited the water, the next athlete was almost three minutes behind. Elisabetta Curridori (ITA), Michelle Vesterby, Ilona Eversdijk (NED), Manon Genet (FRA), and Sarah Crowley (AUS), in that order, knew that they will have a hard bike ahead if they wanted to keep their chances alive.
And so they did. While De Vries and Pedersen stayed together for a while, with the chasers taking advantage of the headwind in the first few kilometers. Meanwhile, the Dutchwoman managed to ride away from the Pedersen, struggling with medical issues that eventually forced her to abandon the race after stopping a few times to get checked by the medical staff on course.
Halfway through the 180km bike, De Vries had over a minute gap with Vesterby and Genet, who were riding together, followed by Crowley, who was racing again only a week after competing at the European Long Distance Championships at DATEV Challenge Roth. Two hard races back to pack eventually hit the Aussie, who started losing time while De Vries flew through the course to enter the second transition with a bit over a minute with Genet.
When they both started to run, it was clear that it was going to be a two-persons battle for the title. De Vries decided to go all in for the first three laps of the ran, opening a significant bridge with Manon and Verterby, but after 28km, the Dutch woman starting struggling, suffering some stomach issues that forced her to stop at some points.
With Genet closing the gap, it was an epic battle for De Vries to pick herself up and continue, but it was a matter of passing for the last time through transition, and feel the cheers of the spectators, which put her back on track again and run for the victory, stopping the clock in a time of 8:32:05, and claim her first ever Long Distance World title. “I just don’t have words for this and I don’t realize it yet. I’m world champion in such a time. It’s really unbelievable”, she said. It was an emotional win for De Vries, who lost her grandmother only a few days ago and burst into tears after finishing. “It’s very very special. I watched this race when I was 10-years old when my dad competed in it. I always said that I wanted to race it when I grew up and now I have raced it three times and today a World Championship. My grandma passed away last Wednesday so it’s really nice that I could do it for her. I am really happy. The last 10km were so hard, nothing was in my body anymore, but I managed to finish”, she explained.
Behind her, second on the finish line was Manon Genet. “I really gave it all. I wanted to do my best today and I think I did. I hoped for the win, I was told that Sarissa wasn’t doing so well and I tried to push her but she is strong and I tried to be my strongest. It’s second place and it means the world for me”, she said.
The bronze medal was for Vesterby, best ever place for her in the World Championships and also holder of the national long distance record from today. “It’s been an awesome race. I am not disappointed, I always race to win and I pushed the bike really hard but I have so much respect for the two girls who finished ahead of me today. I didn’t think they would push this pace. I did a good race for me and they were just stronger today. I just heard that I broke the bike record here so that’s pretty awesome,” she said.
Fourth place was for Italian Elisabetta Curridori, also breaking the national record today, while in fifth place it was Leanne Fanoy (UAE) crossing the finish line.
03:01 - 12 Sep, 2021