Leerdam, who suffered a rare defeat in Beijing, staged a remarkable comeback in Stavanger. Her journey against Mi Han was impressive. She bested everyone with the fastest average lap (27.1 seconds) and finished with a time of 1.15.26. This made her nearly three-tenths of a second faster than Takagi, who finished second.
This was a first for Rijpma-de Jong. She has never won a World Cup medal in the 1000 meters before. Her race against American Brittany Bowe resulted in a time of 1.15.74, enough to finish on the podium.
Leerdam, commenting after her win, recognized the value of the rare defeat: “Losing for the first time after a long time is of course not nice. So I’m happy to be back where I am.”
In addition to Leerdam’s victory, there was also success in the mass start, with Irene Schouten and Marcel Busker taking the top positions. Schouten dominated the mass start with an unprecedented performance, even sweeping the entire peloton.
For Leerdam, her victory in Stavanger meant not only a return to her dominant position, but also a new perspective after a challenging period. She revealed that minor injuries and personal circumstances affected her performance, but her focus is on the World Individual Distance Championships in Calgary, where she aims to defend her title.
Getting her sharpness back feels like a relief for Leerdam and a return to her usual form. The loss motivated her to come back stronger, and she has her eyes set on more important matches in the future.
A training camp in Italy is now planned for Leerdam and her teammates, with the aim of continuously improving their performance.
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