Maaike Verweij from Veenhuizen after ‘farewell marathon’: ‘I liked to ride those laps in front of Schouten, she deserved that’

Irene Schouten said goodbye – sort of – as a skater at the final of the Daikin Marathon Cup in Leeuwarden on Sunday. Her Drenthe teammate Maaike Verweij had very nice words for her, but was critical of herself.

Last week, Irene Schouten received the farewell the multiple Olympic champion deserves in a packed Thialf. Dressed in formal attire, she was treated to an open towel during a lap of honor and a song was even made especially for her. It moved the people of North Holland. But secretly she would rather say goodbye in a tight skating suit than in a chic outfit.

She did it that way on Sunday in Leeuwarden. Just enjoy skating in the discipline where it all started, and which she loves so much: the marathon. In the final match of the Daikin Marathon Cup in the Elfstedenhal in Leeuwarden, all eyes were of course on her.

But Schouten also has two northern teammates at AH Zaanlander. Maaike Verweij from Veenhuizen and Arianna Pruisscher from Nieuw Dordrecht are part of Jillert Anema’s star ensemble. For the two it is an honor to be able to ride with Schouten.

This was also evident during the race, because first Pruisscher rode at the head of the peloton for laps and then Verweij finished as the penultimate woman in the AH Zaanlander train with a nice lead. In the sprint, Schouten was the strongest with a street length lead. Hands in the air, a short nod of understanding when passing Anema, and that was it – at least, Schouten will still run some marathons next season, but how and what exactly is unclear.

Verweij had a bumpy season

“It will definitely be different for us,” Verweij said afterwards in the catacombs. She speaks of her teammate with great respect. “We don’t yet know exactly how things will go, but in any case these are big shoes to fill. I still remember how I first met her as an 18-year-old. I didn’t ride in her team yet, but she already said: ‘If you want to know something or there is something I can help you with, just ask.’ That made an impression. So I was happy to ride those laps here today for her, she deserved it.”

Verweij himself had a season with some bumps. The 23-year-old master’s student at the University of Groningen took the youth rankings, but is not satisfied. “No, personally I’m not very happy. I got mononucleosis in May. As a result, my base was not there for the summer training. So it can all be explained, but you still hope for better performance. It wasn’t good on natural ice either. In Sweden I also became ill and my shoulder dislocated. Hopefully I’ve had my share of bad luck now, haha.”

Pruisscher (25) fared much better. She rode a lot for the team, but also took her first victory in an artificial ice marathon. “And that leaves you wanting more! I really notice that I have become much stronger. Now I’m going to have a nice rest first and then I’ll see which cycling races I’m going to do. Skating is now really the main focus,” says the Drenthe, who has also cycled a lot in recent years.

A tease for Groningen men

Among the men, the Anema formation, which is called Royal A-ware there, had a plague: the Frisian Harm Visser from Jumbo-Visma was supreme in the sprints throughout the season. He was also too fast for Groningen Sjoerd den Hertog (32) in Leeuwarden. The artificial ice season is actually perfectly summarized in one match. But on natural ice there was of course that wonderful victory of Daan Gelling (23) from Huizinge during the ONK on the Weissensee.