The scene has been set for an epic German canoe sprint showdown this weekend, as Olympic champions confront world champions in a battle with high stakes on their home course in Duisburg.

For the winner of the men’s C2 battle will be a place on the German team for this year’s ICF Canoe Sprint world championships in Szeged Hungary.

Peter Kretschmer and Yul Oeltze are the reigning world champions, while Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vendrey are the Rio 2016 gold medalists. Kretschmer and Oeltze have answered every challenge thrown down to them since Rio, but have one more test to pass.

Both boats comfortably won their heat on Friday afternoon. Brendel and Vandrey were 0.05 seconds quicker, but also had to work harder to overcome the rest of the field.

In other races, Russia’s Roman Anoshkin, a surprise bronze medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, reminded his opponents of his abilities on Friday by qualifying fastest for the finals of the men’s K1 1000.

Anoshkin was almost three seconds faster in his semi final than Portugal’s reigning world champion, Fernando Pimenta, and Olympic silver medalist, Josef Dostal of the Czech Republic.

Germany’s Sebastian Brendel showed glimpses of his triple Olympic gold medal form by winning his semi-final of the men’s C1 1000, but it was Brazilian Isaquias Dos Santos who posted the quickest time. The Rio silver medalist was almost two seconds faster.

Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe and Katie Vincent were once again the fastest qualifiers in the women’s C2 500, but they can expect a much tougher race in the final with the return of Hungary’s Virag Balla and Kincso Takacs.

The Hungarians were slightly quicker in their semi-final than the Chinese pair of Yanan Ma and Mengya Sun, silver medalists behind the Canadians in Poznan last weekend.

In the women’s K2 500, Belgium’s Hermien Peters and Lize Broekx backed up their solid form from the opening canoe sprint world cup in Poland one week ago with a strong win their semi-final on Friday.

But the Poznan silver medalists were not the fastest, with France’s Manon Hostens and Sarah Guyot finishing more than four seconds faster.

Slovenia’s Spela Ponomarenko Janic and Anja Osterman bronze medalists in Poznan in the K2 500 and gold medalists in the K2 200, won their semi-final in a time less than one second slower than the French team.

France <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/39718' data-id='39718' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Manon Hostens</a> <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/35321' data-id='35321' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Sarah Guyot</a> K2 500 Duisburg 2019

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