Lotte Wilms (NED) and Tom Hug (SUI) are the winners of the Challenge St. Pölten 2023. Hug beat the competition on the run course, while Wilms celebrated a start-finish victory. 1,100 age group athletes from 33 nations completed the middle distance in St. Pölten in good weather and a great atmosphere along the whole course..
Start-finish victory for Lotte Wilms
Wilms from the Netherlands decided to start in St. Pölten at short notice. Known as a strong swimmer, she already broke away from the field there and extended her lead over the entire race. “A start-finish victory is always something special. The race has a very special meaning for me now and I am happy how everything went,” said the winner at the finish. Runner-up Daniela Kleiser (GER) played to her running strengths to the full, moving up from eighth to second position on the run course. Caroline Lehrieder (GER) completed the podium in third place.
Surprise victory in the men’s race
In the professional men’s race Tom Hug (SUI) secured victory. The young Swiss athlete got off the bike in third position feeling good and did not let anything slip on the run course. Lukas Hollaus (AUT) also showed a strong run performance and secured the podium in the last metres. Adriano Engelhardt (SUI) crossed the finish line in second place, but was disqualified due to an unserved time penalty. The podium was completed by Lukas Hollaus (AUT) in second and Ruben Zepuntke (GER) in third.
The favourites Nicolas Mann and Sebastian Kienle could not live up to expectations. Kienle received a time penalty and got off the bike out of frustration after only a few kilometres. Mann was well in the race for a long time at the beginning, but struggled with health problems and did not finish the race.
Ladies First was the motto at the start. Lotte Wilms was able to hold this position for a long time and led the overall field. The men’s field started 20 minutes after the men. Only Ruben Zepuntke managed to catch up with Wilms. The German, who finally came third, is known as a strong cyclist and showed a great performance on the bike course. He was the first to reach the sports centre in Lower Austria.
Celebration of 20 years of triathlon
Numerous spectators followed the call and cheered the athletes on along the course and in the start-finish area. Mayor Matthias Stadler was also on site and showed his enthusiasm. “My greatest respect to all the athletes who started today. Great performances were shown,” said Stadler. “A big thank you goes to the organisers and the many helpers who make this event in St. Pölten possible.”
On Friday, the triathlon weekend in St. Pölten kicked off with the Junior Challenge and the Company and Fun Triathlon. 120 kids were enthusiastically at the start. LH Deputy Udo Landbauer cheered on the triathlon youngsters. “The triathlon in St. Pölten has been one of the absolute sports highlights in our province for 20 years! The great sporting challenge and the beautiful scenery are a very special incentive for all participants as well as visitors. I am extremely pleased that the young generation can once again enjoy this showcase event within the framework of the Junior Challenge and can develop a lot of fun and enthusiasm for the sport through these great experiences!”, says Landbauer.
The organisation team around Christoph and Petra Schwarz draws a positive conclusion. “We sincerely congratulate all athletes on their achievements and thank them for their trust,” said the team. “A special thank you goes to the many helpers and to all our partners and sponsors who support us and make this event possible”.