This Sunday, the first edition of Challenge Salinas will take place. A small but interesting pro field will cross swords in Ecuador, which could make for an exciting battle. The race – at least the women’s race – will also see the final decision in the Challenge Family World Bonus standings.
In the men’s race, Canadian Jackson Laundry may be the biggest favourite for the win. Laundry raced a lot this year, only winning once: in Michigan, he delivered a great performance. Now, at the end of 2023, he will want to add a second win to his season and therefore will go all-in for the win in Ecuador. On paper, American Marc Dubrick will be his biggest competitor; he also raced quite a lot in 2023, stood on the podium twice, but has not yet managed to take a victory home. In this season’s last chance, Dubrick will go all-out to still add a win to his record.
With Briton Jack Hutchens and Portuguese Joao Ferrieira, there are two dangerous outsiders at the start of Challenge Salinas. However, a number of local favorites needs to be taken into account. On paper they will find it difficult against the established order, but Andres Barrionuevo, Diego Vazquez and Leonel Lucas enjoy the home advantage for sure, which definitely can give them some extra wings and motivation.
In the women’s race, there is one clear favorite for victory: Margie Santimaria. The world-class Italian athlete has already competed in several Challenge Family races this year and ranks eighth within the Challenge Family World Bonus. If she wins Challenge Salinas, however, she moves up to fourth place in one fell swoop, which will earn her a nice cash bonus. Apart from the fact her goal is to win Challenge Salinas, this is undoubtedly extra motivation to not take it easy on race day. Most competition can be expected from Slovakia’s Margaréta Bicanova. This athlete is only 22 and is at the beginning of her long distance career. In addition, Canadian Rachel Faulds is racing and aiming for victory for sure.
There are also a number of local favorites at the start in the women’s race. Ana Torres and Elizabeth Bravo, for example; in front of their own crowd they will want to show their best.
The Challenge Salinas course is surely one of the most unique in the world with the bike course having special access across an active military base before heading through a national park and then crossing the local airport runway! Both the bike and run also take in the stunning Pacific Ocean coastline with the swim in the sheltered waters off the main beach.