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Sunday, June 11 brings the second edition of Challenge Venice which comprises a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre road cycle and a final full marathon. Around 700 athletes from 45 different nations have already signed up for the full-distance triathlon in the glorious Italian city, confirming its strong international draw. A large group of elite athletes will be doing battle for the coveted victory, not least last year’s overall winner, Dirk Wijnalda of Holland, local hero Alberto Casadei and the now-US-based Italian Davide Giardini. All eyes in the women’s grouping will be on Martina Dogana.

The countdown has officially begun to the second edition of Challenge Venice, the full-distance triathlon that will see a large group of triathletes from all over the world gather in the Serenissima on Sunday, June 11. The international appeal of the host city of Venice is one of the strongest features of the event. With just two weeks left to the off, almost 700 athletes from 45 different nations have confirmed they will be taking part. Challenge Venice is a full-distance triathlon, comprising a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre road cycle and a classic final marathon of 42 kilometres and 195 metres.

Some of the best-known faces from the international triathlon world will be competing on this very fast but still extremely challenging route. Naturally enough, there is huge excitement and expectation about Dirk Wijnalda (Holland), winner of the first edition in a time of 8.09’14”, who will be attempting to repeat that feat. The 44 year old is a highly experienced full-distance athlete currently ranked sixth in the ITU Long Distance Triathlon Points List. That said, the very strong Dutchman will have to contend with some very strong competition from two impressive Italians. The first being Davide Giardini, who is originally from Desenzano del Garda but has been based in Boulder, Colorado, for quite some time now. He’ll be making his full-distance debut in Venice. Since he turned professional in 2014, Gardini has clocked up several half-distance victories and will be looking to set the record straight in Venice after an enforced retirement from the Challenge Rimini at the start of the month.

Another noteworthy first-timer in Venice will be Alberto Casadei, who lives just a few hundred metres from the finish-line and will be seeking another major victory to add to his already impressive tally. Riding high after his recent win in the Ocean Lava at Kotor in Montenegro, Casadei will certainly be able to count on the support and enthusiasm of his many fans in this home event. It will be a particularly significant outing for him as the Venice-born triathlete will also be the ambassador for “Bambini Terribili for a Smile”, a charity founded by psychologist and triathlete Pier Luigi Righetti to get disabled children involved in sport. Dr Righetti himself will be running with a group of kids in the Lotto Relay, in which a further 20 teams of between four and seven members are lining out.

Another of the hot favourites is two-time Portuguese full-distance champion Sergio Marques, who also finished second behind Dirk Wijnalda in the first edition of Challenge Venice, in a time of 8.19’28”.
Other names to look out for in the top positions will be Germans Per Bittner, Lukas Kramer and Marc Unger, Belgian Lucky Berlage and Stefan Overmars of Holland.

The woman to watch will be Martina Dogana, who finished second last year in a time of 9.04’42”, a mere 42 seconds behind the first of the women, Erika Csomor of Hungary. The very strong Italian contender, however, won’t go on challenged by the likes of Simona Krivankova, Czech champion in 2016 and currently ranked seventh on the ITU Long Distance Points List, Sofia Goos of Belgium, promising young Croatian talent Sonja Škevin, Vanessa Pereira of Portugal and Lucie Zelenkova of Czech Republic.