© Sebastian Kuhn
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5. Jun 2013

Andreas Raelert would like to win the race for the third time

Defending champion is looking forward to Challenge Kraichgau

Bad Schönborn. Andreas Raelert would like to realize the triple at the Sparkasse Challenge Kraichgau on Sunday. In the past two years, the 36-year old from Rostock celebrated two victories on the challenging middle-distance course. A year ago he also won the title of the ETU European Champion on the middle-distance over 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike and 21.1 km run. "With the Challenge Kraichgau I associate incredibly beautiful moments," says the defending champion, "the races were fought really hard in the last two years. But with its great audience the race is always a highlight for me." Last year Andreas Raelert improved the course record in 3:48:15 hours.

For Andreas Raelert the Challenge Kraichgau is an important race and an important test for the Ironman Austria on June 30, which is planned as his first major highlight of the season. "Three weeks before the Ironman race in Klagenfurt the Challenge Kraichgau fits in very well," explains Andreas Raelert. Moreover, the races courses are a bit similar because of the up-and-down bike courses of both competitions. Finally the Challenge Kraichgau offers a fast but hilly and demanding three-lap run course. "It's a difficult race, but I like these challenges," says Andreas Raelert, "also the landscape in the Kraichgau is very scenic."

The starting field of the Challenge Kraichgau is outstanding. It is the national Championships in Germany. The pro field includes the two-time winner of Ironman Frankfurt, Timo Bracht, who has already won this season's Ironman Los Cabos. Among the favorites there is the Olympian Maik Petzold, who makes his debut on the middle-distance in the Kraichgau.

It is unclear whether the race will be held with or without a swimming competition, because the water temperatures have been too low in recent days. If there is a swim on Sunday, Dylan McNeice from New Zealand will probably be one of the fastest athletes from the beginning. He has already won the Challenge Wanaka and the Challenge Taiwan earlier this season. If the race takes place without swimming, Joerie Vansteelant from Belgium will be a favorite right from the start. The long-time duathlon star is a four-time World Champion in this discipline. As a triathlete he claimed second place in the Challenge Fuerteventura a couple of weeks ago. "With or without swimming, the race will certainly be very fast," says Andreas Raelert. In the last two years he managed to win the title at the Challenge Kraichgau both with a sub-1:10 half marathon. "If it was possible for me to run like this again and to show a similar performance, I would be very happy."

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