Gomez and Verstuyft perfect in Prague

Javier Gomez was simply untouchable once he started running, while Katrien Verstuyft hung on for a close win at Challenge Prague.

| July 29, 2018 | NEWS

Javier Gomez was unstoppable at Challenge Prague.

Javier Gomez was unstoppable at Challenge Prague.

Photo >Challenge Prague

Set in the heart of one of Europe's most beautiful cities, Challenge Prague is a one of a kind event that proved to be a bit more challenging than expected thanks to the warm temperatures Europe has been experiencing this summer.

All of which likely worked well for Spain's eight-time world champion Javier Gomez, who was simply in a class of his own once he started the run. The women's race turned into a close run to the line as just 50 seconds separated the first three, but Belgium's Katrien Verstuyft was able to hang on for the win.

Gomez at the front from the start

As a former ITU star, it came as no surprise to see Gomez lead the way out of the swim that takes place around an island in the middle of the Vitava river. Right on his heels was this year's ITU long distance world champion, Pablo Dapena. Last year's Challenge Prague champion.

Pieter Heemeryck, wasn't far behind out of the water and quickly joined the Spaniards. The three would power through the bike together, hitting T2 at the same time. 

Which was terrible news for Heemeryck and Dapena, who watched Gomez stride away from them from the start of the four-loop half marathon that runs on either side of the Vitava. While there was little drama over who would win the race, Heemeryck and Dapena would battle for the runner-up position throughout the 21 km. Heemeryck seemed to be on track for the spot by moving ahead of Dapena on the last loop, but started to feel the effects of the heat over the last few kilometers and had to slow down. Dapena, racing just two weeks after his big win in Fyn, was hurting as he crossed the line, but was able to hold off the defending champ to put Spaniards on the first two steps of the podium.

Men – overall: 1. Javier Gómez Noya (ESP) 3:44:40.7, 2. Pablo Dapena González (ESP) 3:50:53.7, 3. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:51:55.0

Kirsty Jahn, Katrien Verstufy and Laura Siddall.

Kirsty Jahn, Katrien Verstufy and Laura Siddall.

Photo >Challenge Prague

Verstuyft gets there just ahead

Heading into the race it appeared that the race for the win would be between Canadian Kirsty Jahn and Great Britain's Laura Siddall - the two have each taken two Ironman titles this year, with Siddall winning Ironman New Zealand and Australia, while Jahn taking the Brazil and Boulder titles.

Those two were both about three minutes behind a group of women that included Verstuyft, Lisa Huetthaler (AUT) and Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL). It didn't take long for Verstuyft to move to the front, but it appeared as though both Siddall and Jahn might be on track to catch the Belgian as they gained time through the first two laps of the run. Siddall found herself struggling (no doubt thanks to an busy race schedule that, in addition to the fulls in New Zealand and Australia, included Challenge Roth earlier this month), while Jahn was dealing with stomach issues that saw her make two port-o-potty stops along the way. Once she was running, though, Jahn gained ground quickly and was able to get passed Siddall, but came up 33 seconds short of catching Verstuyft, who paced her effort perfectly to take the title. Siddall came across the line just 50-seconds back to round out the podium.

Women – overall: 1. Katrien Verstuyft (BEL) 4:21:30.5, 2. Kirsty Jahn (CAN) 4:22:03.3, 3. Laura Siddall (GBR) 4:22:21.8 … 7. Simona Křivánková (CZE) 4:26:20.1.