Xterra Off Road Triathlon European Circuit kicks off in Malta

Monday, April 11, 2016, 20:23

Gavin Muscat

Reigning Xterra European Tour Champion wins Xterra Malta Triathlon, Brigitta Poor retains local title

Majjistral Nature Reserve – The reigning XTERRA European Tour champion Roger Serrano from Spain and the women’s tour runner-up from 2015 Brigitta Poor from Hungary got off to a quick start in 2016 by capturing the season-opener at XTERRA Malta this weekend.

Every picture tells a story, the beautiful Majjistral Nature Reserve certainly painted a pretty picture for the 196 participants taking part in the inaugural race of the 2016 Xterra European Tour, which was held in Malta, on Sunday 3rd April – however photos belie the tough conditions that athletes, 11 of which hailed from Malta had to contend with. Slightly cloudy with a temperature of 20°C, strong sea currents in a temperature of 17°C and most challenging of all the strong force 6 – 7 winds.

A two loop 1.5km swim started off with a tail wind then a 90° turn that made it hard on everyone to go straight. Jens Roth took the lead quickly and started the second loop with 15-seconds on Roger Serrano, last year’s Xterra Malta runner up, followed by new pro Pierre-Antoine Guilhem, age grouper Jean Marc Rimaud from Versailles, and Fabien Combaluzier who brought a big team with him to race here in Malta.

In the women’s elite race Diane Lee from the UK (she was 2nd at XTERRA Denmark last year) took the lead on local Maltese Danica Bonello Spiteri and Brigitta Poor, with Morgane Riou more than one-minute back.

At the start of the 30km cycle course Roth had a 30-second lead on Serrano.

“I did a massive block of training this winter, and came here in good shape,” said Serrano, who broke a rib a few weeks ago but said he recovered quickly from that and was confident today. Roth was stronger on the flat sections but Serrano was stronger on the downhills and technical pieces. “I caught Jens after about 7km on a rocky downhill, then we collaborated a bit. I improved my run this winter, lost some weight, and wanted to start the run with energy,” said Serrano. “When I started this race today, compared to last year, I was much more confident in my running ability and wanted to prove that to myself today.”

Behind Roth and Serrano it was a race for third place led by Guilhem, a new pro to XTERRA From the southeast of France, then Maxim Chane, who was making his pro debut but who has made a name for himself with some great age group performances in Maui, Hawaii. Brice Daubord and Jan Pyott both got flat tires resulting in Pyott not finishing as a result whilst Daubord rode the last few kilometres of the bike on his rim then ran his way to a 9th place finish.

In the women’s race Lee took a 30-second lead into the bike section, followed by last year’s Xterra Malta winner Brigitta Poor and Maltese Bonello Spiteri, with Morgane Riou and Alena Stevens more than one-minute back. After the first loop Poor put 2:30 on Riou, and five minutes to the third place rider Lee.

“I was very nervous this morning,” said Poor. “It’s the first race of the season, and you don’t know who did what, so I just pushed as hard as I could. I lost my bottle early on the bike and that added some stress to the day.”

Back to the men’s race, a confident Serrano led the first 500-meters of the trail run but was only five seconds ahead of Roth, who was in ‘all out’ mode.

It was four minutes before Guilhem came by in third, chased by another new pro Hannes Wolper and Chane in 5th. The top three stayed the same through the finish and Serrano won his first XTERRA after several 2nd place finishes on the tour last year.

“Of course I’m happy because I’ve been trying to get a big win like this for three years, but I also know that Brice had a flat, and Ruben Ruzafa wasn’t here,” said Serrano. “So it’s nice but I know I still have a long way to go.”

Roth was also elated with his runner-up showing, saying “it’s perfect, my condition is good and now I will start a big block of technical training on the mountain bike. I’m improving and I’m having a lot of fun.”
Guilhem was happy too, and surprised he did so well in his first XTERRA.

Chane finished in fourth, and after the race said “I like these races that are a little bit shorter. I’m really happy.” Peter Lehmann from Germany, another first year pro, had a solid run to finish in 5th.

In the women’s race Poor had a big lead on the run and ultimately finished more than four minutes ahead of Riou who had a career-best performance in 2nd place. Sandra Koblmueller had a great run to move up from 6th place to third by the finish line.

“I’m really happy,” said Poor. “I know I’m not yet at 100%, and clearly the goal is to try to win the Tour. I finished second last year, so I need to move up one more place. I will try to race the whole tour, and give myself the best chance of winning it.”

Nicolas Lebrun, Technical Director for Xterra Europe; “I had another great experience in Malta, it was refreshing to see Serrano analyse his victory in the way he did, I know quite a lot of people are happy for him to see him win Xterra Malta. It has been great to see a lot of new, young and fast athletes here in Malta. A big thank you goes to all the Hellfire team in Malta – doubling the entries this year was another great accomplishment by the team.”

Whilst Xterra Malta is proud to attract such a high level of athletes, it also welcomes athletes of different abilities and backgrounds. Olaf Karlsson, underwent a lifestyle change that saw him lose 60kgs and used Xterra as his primary motivation. David DeSantis, a cancer survivor, finished his 4th race of the 16 he has planned around the world to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. DeSantis, after the race commented “That was maybe the best trail running loop I ever did, this place is so beautiful. Xterra Malta also welcomed Michel Gonon who irrespective of having a disability completed the challenging course. Participants of German VOX TV “Real Men” Programme took the opportunity to challenge themselves to get fit for Xterra Malta and their efforts will be aired in June 1.5 million viewers.

Seven Maltese athletes took part in the full distance. Local Triathlon and Cross Triathlon Champion Danica Bonello Spiteri, competing in the PRO category was the first Maltese to cross the finish line. Good performances were registered by Stephania Magri who clinched second place in the 35-39 Age Group. Kevin Muscat, Ryan Spiteri made a welcome return to the course, whilst new faces Justin Gauci, Mark Lewis, Peter Grech, and Ackerly Hili joined the Xterra tribe for the first time. Adriana Galdies took part in the sprint distance whilst Annetto Schembri and Andrew Grech competed in the relay team segment.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the second Xterra Malta edition, it was satisfying to see many athletes return to our shores and doubling entries which shows that our efforts to give a good race experience have paid off. We hope that the success of this event will attract more participation from local age groupers next year” commented Antonello Gauci, co- founder of the race. “We are of course grateful for the support shown by government and private entities and take the opportunity to thank the Malta Tourism Authority who have made this race possible, alongside the Radisson Golden Sands Resort & Spa, who hosted the event over the weekend. A big thanks to the Malta Police Force, The Malta Red Cross, Cisk Excel, KDM Travel, Gaia and Majjistral Park Management, JPGatt Photography, emvigee pr & marketing, SignIt, Mdina Glass, all the Marshals & Volunteers, the Hellfire crew, family and friends that gave up their weekend to make this event special.”

Elite Results:

Pro Men top 10
Place – Name – Time – Points

  1. 1 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:16:44 75
  2. 2 Jens Roth, GER 2:17:48 67
  3. 3 Pierre-Antoine Guilhem, FRA 2:22:29 61
  4. 4 Maxim Chane, FRA 2:23:20 56
  5. 5 Peter Lehmann, GER 2:24:35 51
  6. 6 Fabrizio Bartoli, ITA 2:25:04 47
  7. 7 Brice Daubord, FRA 2:28:09 43
  8. 8 Dominik Wychera, AUT 2:28:41 39
  9. 9 Hannes Wolpert, GER 2:28:56 36
  10. 10 Fabien Combaluzier, FRA 2:29:15 33

Pro Women
Place – Name – Time – Points

  1. 1 Brigitta Poor, HUN 2:40:15 75
  2. 2 Morgane Riou, FRA 2:44:21 67
  3. 3 Sandra Koblemueller, AUT 2:46:51 61
  4. 4 Maud Golsteyn, NED 2:48:12 56
  5. 5 Alena Stevens, SVK 2:50:55 51
  6. 6 Diane Lee, GBR 2:59:14 47
  7. 7 Kristina Nec Lapinova, SVK 2:59:45 43
  8. 8 Danica Bonello Spiteri, MLT 3:00:17 39

Results for all categories can be found on:

http://www.maltaxterra.com/xterra-malta-2016-full-results/

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Gallery

Cycling part of race

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Running part of race

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Swimming part of race

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