Yvonne Van Vlerken calls out Daniela Ryf

In a newsletter posted after this weekend's Challenge Roth, Yvonne Van Vlerken had some harsh words for champion Daniela Ryf.

| July 13, 2017 | NEWS

Yvonne Van Vlerken salutes the crowd on Solar Hill during Challenge Roth 2017.

Yvonne Van Vlerken salutes the crowd on Solar Hill during Challenge Roth 2017.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Yvonne Van Vlerken certainly didn’t hold back any punches in the “newsletter” she sent out after her race in Roth. Van Vlerken, a three-time champion in Roth, is extremely popular both at the Challenge Series and in Roth. She took it upon herself, because of “her bond with the race,” to criticize the women’s champion.

The former world-record holder (she set that world-best time in Roth in 2008) called out Daniela Ryf for a number of things over the weekend, starting with Ryf’s non-appearances at the traditional Erdinger party, where the pros typically dress in Lederhosen for a big group photo, at a women’s talk the next day and at the pasta party on Friday night. She then goes on to criticize Ryf for not getting her helmet into transition at the same time as the rest of the athletes the day before the race and also taking extra time to warm up while the rest of the pro women had to wait in the marshaling area before the race.

We contacted Challenge Family pro liaison Belinda Granger about Van Vlerken’s post. She couldn’t comment on whether or not Ryf was at any fault for not making any appearances on Thursday and Friday – Ryf would only have been “required” to be at those events if her contract with the race stipulated she do so. With regards to the helmet and swim issues, though, Granger was able to provide some insight. The German Triathlon Federation (DTU) dealt with those by handing Ryf a couple of yellow cards (warnings that don’t come with a time penalty – you can receive up to three yellow cards in a race.) Ryf received her first yellow card when she entered transition on Sunday morning and the second before the start of the race.

For us here at TriathlonWorld.com Ryf has always been more than accommodating and gracious with her time when it comes to providing interviews. After the press conference on Thursday Ryf was, if not the last, one of the last people to leave the room as she was inundated with interview requests. She was extremely patient and took lots of time to answer all our questions. The same was the case after the race – we caught up with her after she had finished with the anti-doping crew and she took the time to do two interviews for our organization – both in German and English – and then had a line up of a few other organizations seeking to talk, too. At both the awards ceremony and the volunteer party Ryf was inundated by fans in search of autographs, selfies and photos. Once again she was on deck for much longer than most of the other pros in attendance.

It is a sign of respect for the pros and the Challenge organization that Van Vlerken approached Granger with her thoughts before they were published and that Granger didn’t try to stop her from expressing her opinion on the matter. Whether or not making the post on her website was the best avenue to air her issues might be debated by some, but Van Vlerken, as she is quick to point out herself, never has a problem speaking her mind. It is part of the reason she’s so popular on the triathlon circuit.

Ryf, too, is extremely popular and, if she keeps winning the way she has and taking the time to meet with press and fans, will only become more so.