A month ago he became European Champion Long Distance in magnificent fashion at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam – his 7:36 finish time was not only a Dutch and course record, but also the eighth time in the world ever recorded at a Long Distance – and tomorrow he will race again: Menno Koolhaas is getting ready for Challenge Mallorca and is looking forward to it. “The goal is to compete for the first spots,” he says.
Whether that will then be the win, a podium finish or perhaps just behind; Koolhaas does not directly express that. That’s not very surprising, because tomorrow the Dutch athlete will be surrounded by an incredibly strong field of competitors, full of Olympic, World and European Champions. He will also meet compatriot Youri Keulen, who won Challenge Barcelona last week. “I’m going into the race a little without expectations,” Koolhaas said. It’s a course that may not be entirely suited to me and there is a very strong field racing in Mallorca. But I think if I’m in shape as like in Almere, I can certainly compete for the first place. And I will definitely do that: that’s the goal.”
No doubt Koolhaas will be watched more by his competitors, big names in this case, because of the European title he has won only one month ago. “Although most of the starting field here is still not looking that into Long Distance, but mainly into Middle Distance, I think. On the other hand, I think maybe they also know what I’m capable of at a Middle Distance. In addition, I’m ranked well in the Challenge Family World Bonus and PTO Rankings, and I think a lot of people will look at that as well. Above all, I’m really looking forward to the race, I recovered well from Almere and I think I have something left in the tank to show you guys.”
For Koolhaas, the Challenge Family World Bonus is a nice extra reason to perform well again tomorrow. Currently Koolhaas is third in the standings, tied with Mathis Margirier and only behind Caleb Noble and Thomas Bishop, and with the prospect of a huge cash bonus at the end of the season, anything in terms of ranking is still possible. “Although I think the win is going to be tough, but you never know how things turn out. I want to perform twice as steady as possible now,” he looks ahead not only to Mallorca, but also ahead to next week already, when he will start at Challenge Egnazia, to earn as many points as possible there as well.