A start to finish win and his first professional victory for Maximilian Sperl (GER) and a perfectly executed race by Magda Nieuwoudt (RSA) marked today’s Challenge Sanremo on the Italian Riviera.
The men’s race saw Sperl exiting the water in the lead in 24:26 and holding strong throughout the bike, chased hard in the early stages by Youri Keulen (NED) until a wrong turn by Keulen added an extra 2km to his day. At the start of the 17km climb to the Ghimbegna Pass and three minutes behind Sperl, two chase groups become one at the led by Tom Vaelen (BEL), Simon Viain (FRA) who was third last year and Arnaud Guilloux (FRA). Also in the mix were Jonathan Wayaffe (BEL) and Andreas Dreitz (GER). As the men started the fast descent back down to sea level, Sperl maintained his lead, but Vaelen was out due to a flat tyre and Sperl was being chased by Vincent Clavel (FRA) and Viain. It was definitely a battle of the brave with speeds of up to 80kph on the downhill. Sperl entered T2 over two minutes ahead Kristoffer Visti Graae (DEN) and Viain and headed out run which in contrast to the bike is fast and flat. From the first kilometres his lead was never in question, and Sperl crossed the line having led from the gun in 4:12:15. Behind him Viain ran up into second in 4:15:03 while Wayaffe rounded out the podium in third in 4:17:35.
“I’m just happy to pull it off. I guess it was the perfect day for me, leading out on the swim and then just doing my own race on the bike and trying to hang on on the run!” said Sperl. “The bike course was really brutal and I had two or three really close calls and that when you know you’re really on the limit.”
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jodie Stimpson (GBR) led the women out of the water as she returns to competitive racing after an extended injury. She had fellow country woman, Megan McDonald, hot on her heels, followed by Rosie Weston (GBR) and Lilli Gemini (ITA). Unfortunately, both Gemini and McDonald crashed in the first 20km of the race, putting an end to their day.
As the women started the first climb at the 20km mark, Nieuwoudt and Lisa Maria Dornauer (AUT) both rode up to the front, overtaking Stimpson and where they continued to take turns in the lead, joined by Charlene Clavel (FRA). As they took on the longest 17km climb of the day Nieuwoudt looked like she may dominate but Clavel and Dornauer stuck close throughout the climb. On the descent, Dornauer and Clavel’s experience on the technical downhill saw them break away from Nieuwoudt, entering T2 some 30 seconds ahead of the South African. Clavel ran into an early lead, breaking away from her chasers. However, Nieuwoudt had come into this race with nothing but the win on her mind and as they reached the end of the first lap of the run, she overtook Clavel, running into the win in 4:50:10. Clavel held onto second in 4:51:39 while Dornauer took third in 4:52:40.
“This was the goal the whole time to come to these Challenge races and win!” said Nieuwoudt. “Today on the descent it was a bit tricky and I’m not so good at that and I said to myself once I get my feet on the ground I need to run! I hope I can secure the World Bonus, it means a lot to me. But here in the Italy the people are amazing and so happy for you and I really enjoyed it out there today.”
For full results, visit https://www.nextrace.net/timing/schedagara.php?idgara=2936&lan=en and for further information, visit www.challenge-sanremo.com.
Finish Line Interviews
Maximilian Sperl – https://youtu.be/2wCGVXYGtNE
Magda Nieuwoudt – https://youtu.be/xPu7J6pXrgA