Racice all set for the first finals

As the Olympic Games approach, the first finals of the second 2016 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup held in Racice, Czech Republic will offer the spectators some spectacular confrontations.

While some paddlers show up on the World Cup circuit to prepare the Olympic Games and find the best adjustments, some others still have to fight for a chance to represent their country in Rio.

That's the challenge faced by the serbians Marko Tomasevic -winner of his semifinal- and Dejan Pajic in the K1 Men 1000m.

Beside this big race in the race, eyes will also turn on the 19 year old belgian wonder Artuur Peters, who took the bronze last week in Duisburg.

"He could take the K1M 1000 to the next level when he peaks in a few years", said of him noone else than the canadian superstar Adam Van Koeverden, back on the circuit and winner of his semifinal on Friday after qualifying Canada to the Games last week at the Panamerican Championships.

Denmark's René Holten Poulsen will try to win his second world cup back to back on the distance. It will not be easy as the reigning world champion is showing some signs of exhaustion after racing the heats and the semifinals of both the K1 and K2 1000m on Friday.

Max Hoff, winner of his semifinal, and Josef Dostal, who will be willing to put on a show on his home course, complete this very exciting line-up.

The K2 Women 500m will be the other internal fight for Serbia, as the pairs Dalma Ruzicic Benedek / Milica Starovic and Olivera / Nikolina Lodovan will compete for their Olympic selection in lanes 2 and 3. They will paddle against the Germans Tina Dietze and Franziska Weber, who got their ticket to Rio last week in Duisburg, the Australian olympic crew Alyce Burnette and Alissa Bull, performing well this season, and the Ukrainians Inna Hryshchun / Anastasiaa Todorova.

Impressive K2 Men 200m line-up

Another highlight of the day will be the final of the K2 Men 200m. All the big names will be on the starting line, including several world and olympic medallists in both K1 and K2. Russia's olympic champions Yury Postrigai and Alexander Dyachenko came to Racice at the last minute and will race in a new boat, their usual one being at home where they will have their national trials in three weeks.

Serbians Marko Novakovic and Nebojsa Grujic will try to grab their Olympic ticket, while the ambitious French pair Maxime Beaumont and Sébastien Jouve are still fine-tuning their paddling.

"We changed a few things but we are ready", said Beaumont. Germany's Liebscher / Rauhe and Britain's Heath / Schofield complete the line-up and can equally claim the gold medal on Saturday.

Sebastian Brendel, undefeated in the C1 Men 1000m since 2013, clearly has a target on his back and will have to face a fierce opposition in the final. 18 year old Moldavian Sergei Tarnovschi keeps improving and will undoubtedly give him a lot of work, while Mark Oldershaw, freshly arrived from the Panamerican Games held last week in the USA, showed an encouraging performance on his steps to the Olympics. Martin Fuksa, so close to beat Brendel in Milan's World Championships last year, will try to get even in front of his home crowd.

Osypenko-Radomska is back

In the absence of the kiwi Lisa Carrington, who chose to skip Racice and head directly to the next world cup in Montemor, Portugal next weekend, bets are open in the K1 Women 200m.

Inna Osypenko-Radomska, now representing Azerbaijan after offering Ukraine an Olympic title in 2008, seems to have an advantage, but she will have to deal with Asian Games' champion Yu Zhou, the french Sarah Guyot who won Rio's test event, and Sweden's Linnea Stensils, who got her ticket to the games in Duisburg last week.

In the C1 Women 200, Canadian Katie Vincent is in constant progress and will try to show again that she is the fastest woman on Earth on this distance after setting the world's best time last week in Duisburg.

Kenny Wallace and Lachlan Tame won their heat in the K2 Men 1000m and seem ready to forget about last week's hickup in Duisburg. "It was a bad day at the office", said Tame. "We had not raced for ten weeks. We have to pull harder, but the main and only goal remains the gold medal in Rio".

World champions Marcus Gross and Max Rendschmidt (GER) will paddle next to them and no one knows what their game plan will to be after they changed their tactics in the semifinal. "Usually we push hard in the last 250 meters", explained Gross to the ICF. "Today we decided to speed-up between the 500 and 750 meters to discourage the other crews and it worked. We didn't go to hard in the last 150 meters but it was enough for today".

The action continues on Saturday at 9:37 CET with the 'A' finals starting at 11:03 CET.

Startlists and live results: https://www.canoeicf.com/results-records

Live streaming: https://www.youtube.com/planetcanoe

More info @ https://www.canoeicf.com/event/2016-icf-canoe-sprint-world-cup-2

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