Karen Brouwer and Stefan Vreugdenhil win the Battle

Good weather, a strong breeze, a wide, hard-packed beach, a forest with steep, single-track climbs, dry strips of sand, and a long, deep pool with rubber ducks made up the ingredients for the first Battle of the Beach in Pemprey. Appearing for KMC-Koga, Karen Brouwer, Stefan Vreugdenhil and Martin Schuttert had travelled to Wales to take part in this first beach race in Great Britain.

“Via a neutralised start we rode to the beach, and just before we’d reached it they released the race data,” says Vreugdenhil. “Right from the start teammate Martin Schuttert and I were in the first group, and a little later Karen connected, with the second group. On leaving the beach we had to dismount to climb a steep slope, and Martin and I were able to create some distance. Whether he then created a gap or not I couldn’t say, but halfway through the first three rounds I was riding alone and leading. Pretty tough, with two long stretches of beach to go and a fierce headwind. In the last lap I was held up a bit by some riders lagging behind and one of my pursuers suddenly overtook me. In the sprint I managed to keep him behind me, though, and victory was mine.” Teammate Martin Schuttert reached fifth place.

The other teammate Karen Brouwer rode a similar race in the women’s. “When we entered the beach my group connected with the leading group, which enabled me to take the lead immediately,” Brouwer says. “The forest part was really cool with all the short climbs and fun single tracks. There was also a big pool, which was quite cold and filled with rubber ducks for those who were less interested in the race. You could exchange the ducks for gadgets at the end. In the last two laps I managed to increase my advantage and won with a five-minute difference.”