Bart de Zwart Wins SUP 11-City Tour
An international field of over 100 paddlers from over 15 countries lined up at the start on Day 1 of the 6th Annual SUP 11-City Tour. Although it's a five- to six-hour race every day, the start is as explosive as a 500-meter sprint, and this year was no different.
Jay Hasley and Peter Bartl started strong, but Bart de Zwart and Martijn van Deth caught up shortly, leaving Jay in their wake to form a three-man lead group. After only 15 minutes into the race, Peter surprised the competition by making the move to sprint ahead of Bart and Martijn, where he continued extending his lead with every kilometer up to the day's halfway point. Upon reaching the halfway point, a turn of events changed the race, as Bart and Martijn turned on the power and began creeping up to catch Peter. With only a kilometer left before the finish, Bart caught Peter and won the first leg with a three-second lead.
Day 2 saw the same lead group came together after the start and remain together for the day, battling throughout. Peter dug deep several times to break away but never succeeded to drop his competitors. It came down to another sprint to the finish, where Peter and Bart took over, battling for the last 500 meters. Peter crossed the finish first, only 0.8 seconds ahead of Bart. With the finish of Day 2, Bart remained in the lead with only seconds over Peter, followed by Martijn in third and Franck Fifils of Guadeloupe in fourth.
On Day 3 and 4 it seemed the podium was almost sure with Bart, Peter and Martijn extending their lead even more over the rest of the field. But, between the three there was an intense battle for first place. It came down to a sprint each of the two days with Bart edging out on both sprints and extending his lead over Peter and Martijn.
The final stage saw intense racing as Peter gave everything he had, paddling the highest speeds seen in this competition thus far. In the first five minutes, Martijn dropped from the lead pack, but Bart managed to stay on Peter's tail. After 25 minutes, the speed dropped down to normal race speed and the remainder of the race saw a battle between Bart and Peter.
Despite Peter's incredible fighting spirit, he couldn't break Bart this year. The two sprinted into the final city of Leeuwarden after 22 hours of paddling. Bart won the final stage and crossed the line 6 seconds ahead of Peter, claiming the 11-City crown for the fourth time, while Peter finished second overall and Martijn in third.
In the women's division Janneke Smits of the Netherlands came in first overall, dominating every stage. Joanne Hamilton-Vale of England came in second and third went to Sweden's Maya Persson.
For full results, click here.