Some of top names in long distance racing are preparing to take on Challenge Shepparton, Australia this Sunday.

Challenge Roth champion Yvonne van Vlerken will line up for her Shepparton debut. challenge shepparton

Van Vlerken is no stranger to Australia, as she and partner Per Bittner have made Geelong, Victoria their training base for the past few years.

“My partner Per Bittner and I are thrilled to spend our whole winter in Australia, the 2 months last year was too short.

“The experience we both had at Challenge Batemans Bay was amazing and for this reason we decided we want to race some more Challenge events “down under”.

Germany’s Bittner finished fourth in Roth this year amidst a world class field. One of the most consistance performaners, Bittner will look to add some European flair and competition.

Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt, who finished second last year, is back, but will be battling to recover from a bunch cycling accident that left him with some hip discomfort.

Radka Vodickova, also finished second last year and returns with fiancée Kahlefeldt in search of a first place.

“Last year I raced in Shepparton and loved the race, although it was very cold and rainy day. Hard conditions usually suit me well, so I didn’t mind and was happy for my 2nd place.

“This year I am coming back and would like to change two things: Win the race and enjoy sunny weather. Love racing CHALLENGEFAMILY races,” said Vodickova.

Three-time Shepparton winner Rebekah Keat returns to one of her favourite races and to the region she was born and bred in search of a fourth title.

“It’s such a fantastic event, a country race with such a great atmosphere. Having won three times before, it has great memories. I also love that it’s very close to Albury where I grew up, so I really feel relaxed and at home in Shepp,” said Keat.

Australia’s Luke Bell has had a very testing 2015 season but determined to end it on a positive race performance. A race that he has held the course record on for nearly ten years.

“Athletes like Terenzo Bozzone and Tim Reed have come close to the record, however it has stood the test of time.

“It will be good to get back to the Shepparton community and have a race at an event with such fond memories,” said Bell.

Other Aussies lining up include Nick Kastelein and Sam Betten,

This will be the second year of Shepparton’s new course, which was introduced in 2014.

Now based in the city centre, the course includes a 1.9km swim in Victoria Park Lake, a two-lap 90km bike course on flat and fast roads and a three-lap 21.1km run encompassing the lake and trail tracks.

In addition to the professional field a huge age group contingent will also take on the challenge.

For further information on Challenge Shepparton visit – www.challengeshepparton.com.au