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Kramer leads Dutch youngsters to gold in Team Pursuit, Dutch ladies win silver

Kramer leads Dutch youngsters to gold in Team Pursuit, Dutch ladies win silver

The Netherlands men kicked off the World Cup season with a gold medal in the Team Pursuit at Thialf on Friday. Veteran captain Sven Kramer led youngsters Chris Huizinga and Beau Snellink past Olympic champions Norway by more than a second, with Canada only 0.08 seconds behind in third. Team Jumbo-Visma speed skater Carlijn Achtereekte seized silver in the Team Pursuit along with Ireen Wüst and Melissa Wijfje.

The 3:40.33, set by Kramer, Huizinga and the 19-year-old Snellink, was the fourth fastest time ever in the Team Pursuit at Thialf, Heerenveen. The Italian men, who raced against the Netherlands, set the fourth time with 3:44.26. Norway took silver in 3:41.62 and Canada ended up in third place: 3:41.71.

Dutch national coach Jan Coopmans has a wealth of good skaters to choose from for his line-up and he has put together a team of five to pick three for every race. Marcel Bosker and Patrick Roest did not skate this time after competing at the European Speed Skating Championships last week.

“A very good result in the first World Cup", Kramer said. "It was the first time we skated a competition in this line-up, so it is really nice that we were able to win a gold medal today. The more depth we've got the higher we can peak. We prepared well with the whole team and two weeks ago we already skated a training race in today's line-up."

Achtereekte seizes silver in Team Pursuit

In the ladies' Team Pursuit, the Netherlands (Achtereekte, Wüst and Wijfje) had to settle for silver on home ice in 2:57.04 on Friday. Canada started their international speed skating season with a big surprise. Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann took gold by skating the second fastest time ever at Thialf: 2:56.71. Norway seized bronze in 2:59.24.

"It is too bad we were not able to take gold today", Achtereekte said. "It was the first time ever we skated in this line-up and for me it was also a very long time ago I had participated in the Team Pursuit, so it was very tensive. We skated and communicated well, but unfortunately it was not enough to win gold today."

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