It was a thrilling day of racing on the island of Mallorca with a new Challenge Peguera-Mallorca course record set by Youri Keulen (NED) and another convincing win for Imogen Simmonds (SUI), both taking back-to-back wins two weekends in a row.
Both Keulen and Simmonds took the wins at Challenge Barcelona just six days ago and today took on many of the same adversaries. For Keulen, he once again got himself in a good position at the front of the swim, exiting the water with a large lead group led by Wilhelm Hirsch (DEU) in 24:08 and he was in good company with Alistair Brownlee (GBR), Rico Bogen (DEU) and Mathis Margirier (FRA) all coming out of the water together.
And so the battle between Brownlee and Keulen began once again on the bike, as it had in Barcelona. This time they were joined by Bogen, Margirier and Hirsch and it was this group of five that dominated the full 90km bike with its tough climbs and steep, technical downhills. Behind them was a chase pack always around two minutes behind, led by defending champion, Frederic Funk (DEU) but despite their best efforts, they were never able to catch the leaders.
Once onto the run Keulen quickly pulled away, putting time between him and Margirier over every kilometre, never seeming to falter while behind him others suffered. His run split of 1:09:54 was testament to the form he was in and led him to a course record breaking win in 3:41:12 with Margirier coming in second in 3:44:11. While Keulen and Margirier where never threatened for the top two spots, the battle for third was on between Brownlee and Hirsch with Brownlee eventually winning out to take the final place on the podium in 3:45:27.
“I am so smashed!” said Keulen. “On the run, I didn’t think I had it but I’m so thankful for the organization and I’m very happy that I could win back-to-back. To finish a season like this is a dream come true and apparently I have the course record which I’m even more thankful for – oh man, I’m so happy!”
In the women, it was a repeat of last weekend’s Challenge Barcelona with Lucy Buckingham (GBR) leading out the water in 25:09, followed by Simmonds who was 1:22 down. Buckingham retained a strong lead throughout the bike, something even a minor mechanical on the first climb didn’t jeopardise. By around 40km, Sif Bendix Madsen had caught Simmonds and they continued to chase Buckingham, eventually catching her in the final kilometres, entering T2 together and leaving Buckingham in third. Out on the run and Simmonds immediately took charge and for the first two laps, it seemed Buckingham was continuing to push her. However, in the third lap Buckingham left the course due to illness leaving Simmonds with a clear lead to take the win in 4:21:10. However, while the race for first was decided, the race second and third was far from done. On the last lap, Laura Madsen ran down Bendix Madsen to take second in 4:23:51 and then Diede Diederiks’ 1:24:16 run split took her onto the final place on the podium in 4:24:20.
“It was a really hard day today to be honest,” said Simmonds at the finish line. “The last lap of the run felt like it was just a case of survival! Thank you so much to all the spectators and the entire Calvia region. Everyone was out cheering and as always it was a real festival of triathlon so thank you. They were tough conditions today and I made the mistake of underestimating them and paid for it on the second half of the run but luckily I had enough of a gap to have a bit of a buffer.”
Today’s results have also had an impact on the Challenge Family World Bonus with Margirier moving up into tied first place while Simmonds moves up into second. Both are racing next weekend at Challenge Vieux Boucau with the lion’s share of US125,000 on the line. For further information visit https://www.challenge-family.com/world-bonus/
Finish Line Videos
Youri Keulen – https://youtu.be/W94kNzAz9P0
Imogen Simmonds – https://youtu.be/4aJ9l1WNTy4
For full results, visit https://www.elitechip.net/index.php?zwshow=compdet&idcomp=7215063&compsec=clas&zwlng=en
For further information, visit www.challenge-mallorca.com.