Heemeryck and Wurtele take Challenge Geraardsbergen

Pieter Heemeryck led from start to finish to take the men's title while there was no touching Heather Wurtele as she cruised to the win at Challenge Geraardsbergen in Belgium.

| June 10, 2018 | NEWS

Heather Wurtele on the run at the Challenge Championship.

Heather Wurtele on the run at the Challenge Championship.

Photo >James Mitchell

After an impressive fourth-place finish at the Challenge Championship last weekend, Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) was in a class of his own at Challenge Geraardsbergen. In the women's race it was Heather Wurtele's turn to be at the top of the podium (last year the Canadian's husband, Trevor, took the men's race).

Home-country win

Heemeryck was first out of the water and opened up even more time on the field on the bike, starting the run with a five minute lead. Other than a short patch at 18 km where he had to sit down, he was in a class of his own.

"This morning I was not feeling very well," he said after the race. "I couldn't eat and ate just half a sandwich. I think it was the pressure of aiming for the win in my home country. At 18 km I was totally empty. After taking a power gel I was OK to run the last three km."

Heemeryck took the win in 3:51:17, Dylan McNiece (NZL) took second in 3:57:48 in a close battle with Evert Scheltinga (NED), who rounded out the podium with his 3:58:37.

Wurtele bikes and runs to the win

After her sixth-place finish in the stacked field at the Championship last weekend, Heather Wurtele seemed to enjoy the abrupt change in terrain on the Geraardsbergen ccurse, which took the riders up one of cycling's most prestigious climbs, the "Muir van Geraardsbergen." The Canadian moved ahead of early leader Katrien Verstuyft (BEL) at the 60 km point of the bike and was well clear by the "Muir." Wurtele was never challenged once she was in front and cruised to the win.

"It was so nice to race here," Wurtele said after the race. "Last week I did the Championship so I was a little worried about my legs. But this is the same for a lot of athletes, so it really was a fair race. I hammered on the bike to get a gap on Katrien and that worked out. I can't lose the smile on my face today."

Wurtele won the race in 4:20:39, with Verstuyft finishing second in 4:26:09. Alexandra Tondeur (BEL) finished a close third in 4:26:41.