By Steve Medcroft
After finishing out his 2005 season with a World Cup marathon podium (second place at Roc D'Azur October 14th) , Bart Brentjens (Giant Racing) took on a new challenge last weekend in Eijsden , Netherlands as promoter of the first-ever Bart Brentjens Challenge.
The inaugural mountain-bike cross country Olympic champion (1996, Atlanta ) and 1995 World Champion says he has tried to put together a named event before but never had the right mixture of organizer and sponsor to partner with. But in 2005, all the necessary elements came together and the 37 year old Dutch National Champion found himself at the helm of a successful mountain-bike race. “We had 1,500 sign ups,” Brentjens said. “For our first race, we think it is a good start.”
Brentjens says he has committed to at least a three-year run of the event, held in pristine South Holland . “We have three different distances; forty, sixty and eighty kilometers,” he said. “The eighty is a marathon. The shorter distances are for people who'd like to participate just for fun but can't do the full marathon.”
Brentjens says he'd like to see the marathon make the World Cup schedule for 2007. “We are working on it. This is the first year and we have to see how it develops.”
Brentjens says he has been involved with the planning of the race throughout the 2005 season. And although he says he's a little older and mature enough to handle the distraction of performing business duties while actively racing, he deliberately planned the event for after the World Championships ““It took a lot of phone calls but it didn't disturb my training or my racing. If it was in June or July, it probably would have disturbed me a little bit.”
In the eighty kilometer Bart Brentjens Challenge, Brentjens, along with Belgian Roel Paulissen, took on a field of over two hundred men and women. Brentjens won the race in 2.54.50, six minutes ahead of Nicolas Vermeulen (Bel) and just under eight minutes in front of Paulissen.
For a complete list of results, click here.