If you have watched the cycling race Gent-Wevelgem last sunday, then you've got a good impression about the weather in Belgium. The 200 riders at the start line knew they were facing a long, tough and for some, a heroic battle in such terrible conditions. The rain and the strong wind turned the race into a battle of survival. In the same circumstances the national relay championships in orienteering took place in Kasterlee with 450 athletes at the startline.
In women's class we weren't expecting an exciting fight for the victory. Omega was the big favourit with Liesbeth van de Velde
, Kim Geypen
and Miek Fabré
in the first team. CO Liege, Hamok and Trol were the teams who should fight for the silver and bronze medal. But finally the women's race became more exciting than the men's race. Hamok had a good start with its best runner, Greet Oeyen
on the first leg. Again she had a very good race, the best legtime(*) from all female participants. Oeyen was almost 4 minutes faster than Aline Hermans
(Co Liege - 2nd after 1 leg) and Liesbeth van de Velde (Omega - 3rd).
Greet Oeyen passing the spectatorscontrol in the lead
During the 2nd leg Hamok succeeded to keep the chasers behind when reaching the change-over area, thanks to a decent race of Amber Thys. Kim Geypen (Omega) looked almost as fast as 2 seasons ago and had the 3rd besttime overall. She could almost close the 4 minutes gap and arrived in 2nd position, only 30 seconds behind. Omega2 (Veerle Buytaert) came in as 3rd, followed by Co Liege (4th) and Kol (5th). Trol, one of the outsiders, was 7th and already far behind (more than 27 minutes).
Map women elite
During the 3rd and last leg everyone expected Miek Fabré (Omega) to pass the spectatorscontrol in the lead. But nothing had changed, Mira Scheir (Hamok) was still leading with 30 seconds ahead of Omega. Scheir already showed a strong performance earlier this season at POM (the mass start race) and today she showed again that she can surprise in this kind of competitions.
In the end the experience from Miek Fabré gave Omega another gold medal in the national relay championships. Only 15 seconds later Hamok came in as 2nd team, but their dramatic story continued. The 2nd leg runner had received and run with the map of the 3rd leg runner. Because of this wrong order, the Hamok-team got disqualified. So the silver medal went to Co Liege (Hermans, Ceulemans and Tilkin) and Omega2 (Maggioni, Buytaert and Moonen) won bronze. The best performance on the last leg (and 2nd best time overall) came from Anna Serrallonga from Trol. Despite her injury and cold last week, she came in as 5th with Trol.
Map men elite
In class H21E everyone was expecting a classic fight between Kol, Trol and Hamok. Both Kol and Trol were missing their strongest athletes Yannick Michiels and Sergey Fedatsenka. Also the German team Bottrop showed up with a strong team. It was a nice surprise and made the level from the competition higher. During the first leg Tristan Bloemen (Co Liege) did the best routechoice on the long leg towards the 6th control and kept the lead for the rest of the race. Pieter Hendrickx (Kol) came close in the end and finished only 10 seconds behind. It was a good start for the Kol team because the opponents Hamok (Jeroen Hoekx - 4th) and Trol (Desmond Franssen - 5th) lost some crucial time.
The podium in class H21E: Michael van Baelen - Desmond Franssen - Jeremy Genar - Tomas Hendrickx - Wouter Hus - Pieter Hendrickx - Benjamin Anciaux - Jeroen Hoekx
During the 2nd leg Wouter Hus (Kol) took the lead. He even increased the gap a little bit with the opponents Hamok (Anciaux) and Trol (Genar). Co Liege with Clement Demeuse was still in 2nd position ahead of Bottrop (Paul Lutkzendorf - 3rd).
During the last leg Tomas Hendrickx could start with a safe lead and secured the victory with an individual besttime overall. Alexander Lubina (Bottrop) had a good day and could finish in 2nd position, 4 minutes behind. Michael van Baelen could bring the silver medal home for Trol after a 2nd besttime overall (the 3rd besttime in total was for Tristan Bloemen on the 1st leg). The bronze medal was again for Hamok with Thomas van der Kleij on the anchor leg.
The honour to have the best 2nd team was again for Trol in 2015, ahead of Kol and Hamok.
(*)Note: all 1st leg runners (from all classes) have run 1 minute faster than published in the results (mistake by the organisation). This explains why e.g. Greet Oeyen had actually the individual besttime in women's class.
(routechoices D. Franssen)