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Pieter-Jan Hannes wins on home soil

Pieter-Jan Hannes

A series of European Athletics Cross Country Permit meetings were held at the weekend, the results of which will be important in choosing the final names for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov.

Hannes and Belete in form with Samokov approaching

Competing a long way above his specialist distance, Pieter-Jan Hannes excelled in the senior 9.4km race in cold and foggy conditions at the Lotto Cross Cup van West-Vlaanderen in Roeselare, Belgium, on Sunday.

The 22-year-old, who improved his national under-23 1500m record to 3:34.49 this summer, came through late to defeat team-mate Isaac Kimeli by five seconds in 29:02.

Belgium will have high hopes of challenging for individual and team accolades in the under-23 race in Samokov. Reigning champion Hannes is still eligible for this division, while Kimeli moves up an age-group after winning a silver medal in the junior race in Belgrade last year.

By contrast, Almensch Belete did a lot of the front-running in the women’s 6.25km race to defeat middle-distance specialist Maureen Koster from the Netherlands.

Despite a sore knee, Belete defeated Koster by one second in 21:14 with veteran Veerle Dejaeghere third for the second week in succession in 21:54.

Having been training at high-altitude in Ethiopia, Belete is targeting the senior race in Samokov while Koster will be competing in the under-23 race.

Duarte warms up for Samokov with good showing on home-soil

Sophie Duarte was a little way off the pace set by a triumvirate of East Africans at the Cross de L’Acier in Leffrinckoucke on Sunday but with Samokov on the horizon, the Frenchwoman finished ahead of one of her main rivals for the title later this month.

The reigning European cross-country champion finished fourth in the 6.65km race in 24:01, and three seconds ahead of the 2011 and 2012 champion Fionnuala Britton from Ireland in fifth.

However, they were no match on this occasion for Ethiopian teenagers Senbere Teferi and Weynshet Ansa who scooped the first two places in 23:33 and 23:51 respectively.

The men’s 9.95km contest was similarly dominated by the leading African nations with 20-year-old Birhan Nebebew winning by two seconds from James Rungaru from Kenya and Amale Hailemaryam from Ethiopia.

The highest-ranked European finisher was Moroccan-born Frenchman Yassine Mandour in sixth in 29:14.

Gebre and Abadia impress in Alcobendas

Ethiopian-born Trihas Gebre has just gained eligibility to compete for Spain at the European Cross-Country Championships and the 24-year-old could challenge for a medal in the senior women’s race in two weeks’ time.

Gebre, who is based in San Sebastian, finished second to Kenya’s Doris Changeywo in the women’s 7.9km race. The 24-year-old led in the early stages but she was soon overhauled by pre-race favourite Changeywo, who won by 20 seconds in 26:49.

However, Gebre was a long way ahead of her continental rivals Carla Rocha and Diana Martin, who were third and fourth in 27:30 and 27:59 respectively.

In the men’s 9.25km race, Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich followed up his victory in Soria last weekend with a commanding 24 second triumph in 28:36 over reigning champion Emmanuel Bett with world cross-country champion Japhet Korir third in 29:01.

The leading Spaniards kept pace for the most part with former European junior 3000m steeplechase champion Antonio Abadia coming out on top in the domestic battle in fourth in 29:08, eight seconds ahead of Roberto Alaiz.

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