An international field of over 100 paddlers from over 15 countries (Brazil, Spain, Chili, France, Germany, USA, Israel) came to the start on day 1.
Although it is a 5-6 hrs race every day, the start is as explosive as a 500m. sprint.
English man Jay Hasley and Peter started well but Bart and Martijn soon caught up and left Jay in their wake to form a 3 man lead group.
Only after 15 minutes into the race Peter made surprise move and paddled away from Bart and Martijn. Extending his lead every kilometer until the halfway point. Then a surprise turn of events happened, despite the 4-minute deficit at the halfway point, Bart with Martijn following, started catching up with Peter. At the much dreaded lake it as down to 2 minutes. Bart managed to catch Peter 1 km before the finish and won with a 3 second lead. In incredible effort which kept the race way open for the remainder of the week.
On day 2 the same lead group came together after the start and stayed together for the whole race. Peter being on the attack several times to get away but never succeeded. It came down to sprint which started about 2 km before the finish. Martijn initiated it but Peter and Bart took over, neck on neck for the last 500 meter. At the line it was Peter with 0.8 seconds lead over Bart. In the overall now, Bart still in the lead with only 2 seconds over Peter. Martijn in 3 at 59 seconds and Franck Fifils (Guadeloupe) at 24 Minutes.
On day 3 and 4 it was clear the podium was almost sure with Bart, Peter and Martijn extending their lead even more over the rest of the field. Between those 3 though there was an intense battle for 1st place. All 3 tried but none got away clear on any of these days. So it came down to a sprint every day with Bart edging out on both sprints and extending his lead over Peter Bartl to 21 seconds and 1 min. 47 over Martijn van Deth.
It came all down to the final stage. Right from the start Peter gave everything he had with the highest speeds we have seen in this competition so far. In the first 5 minutes Martijn had to drop but Bart managed to stay on Peter’s tail. After about 25 minutes the speed dropped to normal racing and the danger for Bart was over. The rest of the race was between the 2 of them. Despite Peter’s incredible fighting spirit, he couldn’t break Bart this year. They sprinted in the end city Leeuwarden to the finish with everything that was left after more than 22 hrs of paddling in 5 day. Bart won also the final stage and came in 6 seconds ahead of Peter, claiming the 11-city crown once again (4th time), Peter Bartl second overall and Martijn van Deth 3rd
In the women division it was Janneke Smits (Netherlands) in 1st overall dominating ever stage, 2nd Joanne Hamilton-Vale (England) and 3rd Maya Persson (Sweden)
Photo credit: Mayola Dijksman.
For more information on Bart de Zwart: Pro Stand Up Paddler and Adventurer, International Teamrider STARBOARD
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