For the women, there seems to be an exciting battle on Sunday on the final day of the European Championship all-round. This is mainly due to Irene Schouten, who surprised herself on Saturday and is such a formidable competitor for title defender and classification leader Antoinette de Jong.
A day before her European Championship debut, Schouten wondered during her last training whether she could not give her place better to reserve Melissa Wijfje. “The skating went so badly”, says the North Holland. “I drove my worst pace lap in eight or nine years and I really wondered what to do at the European Championship.”
Fortunately for the rider of Team Zaanlander, Ronald van den Ing, the regular equipment man of the Dutch skaters who is also in the skating bubble in Friesland, discovered that the problem was with Schouten’s material and not with her shape.
“When Ronald saw my skates, he immediately said: ‘I understand that you skate badly,” said Schouten. “He made them and on Saturday morning it felt as usual on the ice.”
That good feeling led the pupil of Jillert Anema to a very strong opening day at the European Allround Championships. She especially impressed with a win in the 3 kilometers in the third fastest time ever in Thialf (3.57.95). Schouten is second in the classification and has to make up for 0.79 seconds on leader De Jong on Sunday in the 1,500 meters. The stayer then has the final 5 kilometers as a strong weapon up his sleeve.
“I didn’t see myself as one of the favorites beforehand,” said Schouten. “But now the gold seems possible, if I do two super races on Sunday.”
Antoinette de Jong hopes to extend her title.
De Jong expects an exciting battle for gold
Classification leader De Jong looked back on the first European Championship day with dissatisfaction. The Frisian drove a good 500 meters (third in 38.89), but then lost a large part of her lead on the 3 kilometers (third in 4.02.19).
“I am happy that I am still in first place, but I would not have wanted to lose by more than four seconds on the 3 kilometers”, said De Jong, who won her first major individual title at the European Allround Championships two years ago. “I am very strict with myself in that respect: I know that I can do better than I have shown now.”
The rider of Jumbo-Visma has to take into account not only Schouten, but also the Russian Natalia Voronina. The reigning world champion in the 5 kilometers finished second in the 3 kilometers and has to make up 1.28 seconds on De Jong on the 1,500 meters.
“I expect an exciting battle between the three of us”, says De Jong. “I’m going up against two real 5K women, but I know what to do.”
The final day of the World Allround Championships starts on Sunday at 11.30 am with the 1,500 meters for women.
Source: NU by www.nu.nl.
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