Sven Kramer drove the 5 kilometer in the World Cup Qualifying Tournament almost six seconds slower than winner Patrick Roest, but the 33-year-old Frisian was particularly happy that he was able to participate again in the top.
"Three weeks ago I was still on a bonnet. So, given the circumstances, this was just a good race," Kramer concluded after finishing third in Thialf with a time of 6.15.71 and qualifying for the first world cups of the season.
At first it was even a question mark whether the Jumbo-Visma rider could even start in the qualifying tournament, because he sustained an impression fracture on the inside of his right knee in mid-October when he bumped into a car in Inzell.
"Fortunately things got better quickly", says Kramer. "My knee didn't bother me today either. But the disadvantage is that I tried to spare that knee for two weeks and started compensating."
Moreover, due to his injury in the run-up to the qualifying tournament, the four-time Olympic champion was only able to ride one training race, a 3-kilometer race in Heerenveen last week.
His competitors have skated several competitions in recent weeks, also in the 5 kilometers. "That is no excuse, although it is certainly not ideal," said Kramer. "But overall, I am certainly not dissatisfied with my performance today."
See also: Program and results World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Thialf
"I'm staying hungry even though I'm 33"
It was difficult for the winner Kramer that he was driven in a direct duel with Roest at just under a hundred meters. "Of course I want a lot as a top athlete right away. You have to stay hungry, even if you are 33. I would have preferred to compete with Patrick today, but that is just not real at the moment."
Because of his place in the top five, Kramer qualified for the first four world cups in Belarus Minsk (November 15-17), Tomaszów Mazowiecki (Poland, November 22-24), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan), December 6-8 ) and the Japanese Nagano (13-15 December).
"I no longer live for the World Cups, I live for the big tournaments. But I definitely need the World Cup now to get the rhythm. I will ride the first two anyway and then we will see. Before my injury I had also a fantastic planning and it fell completely into the water. "
For the time being, Kramer is not worried that he will once again be sitting at such a large gap at Roest at the important NK distances. "Last year I was really bad at this tournament. And then I became European all-round champion eight weeks later. So it can go that fast."
See also: Skating calendar season 2019/2020