After missing last year’s race due to injury, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy reclaimed her spot at the top of the off-road triathlon world with a dominating wire to wire win at the Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii this weekend. The race consists of a 1.5 km ocean swim, a 31 km mountain bike followed by a 10.5 km trail run.
Duffy had been dominant on world’s draft-legal scene, too, early in the 2018 season before a foot injury sidelined her for over a year.
“Getting healthy has been the main thing this year,” Duffy said. “So it’s great to win the Xterra World title in a year that has otherwise been quite disappointing. This is a huge, lovely highlight to end my year with.”
A strong swim that saw Duffy hit T1 in third place overall set the stage for her dominating day.
“I felt pretty good coming out of the water and tried not to extend myself too much,” she said. “On the bike, I knew I had to make the most of that first, three-mile climb because after that, the course gets technical, and that’s not really my strength.”
Even through the technical sections of the bike course Duffy was able to stay well clear of her competition.
“During the run, I tried not to allow myself to say, ‘I’m going to win this,’ because this is Xterra and anything can happen. However, once I got off the beach and headed towards the finish, it was a great feeling to know that I was going to win. It was stressful coming into Xterra this year, because no one has ever won five Xterra world titles. It’s a great feeling to be the first person to do that.”
Three-time champion Lesley Paterson took the runner-up spot, with the Czech Republic’s Helena Erbernova rounding out the podium.
Canada’s Katie Button finished 15th in the pro women’s race.
The men’s race was much closer, in part thanks to the slick conditions from a morning rain storm that made the bike course particularly challenging – Canadian Karsten Madsen had a “nasty crash” that would affect his race.
“I had my best swim in Maui, but was still a little farther back than I would have liked,” he said after the race. “I was riding most of the first lap with last year’s champion (Rom Akerson), but based on time splits we were losing time. I then rode away from him, but many times on this bike people would ride up to me then blow up. On the last bit of single track I took a pretty nasty crash and came off the bike in eighth. On the run I was feeling the effects of that crash, it got my hip and stomach pretty good, but you just need to find a way to rally. I’m pleased with eighth today. I think it says a lot seeing the ITU cross world champ and last years Xterra world champ outside the top 10 – it just slhows how good the field was and the top lads threw some hay makers!”
South Africa’s Bradley Weiss, the 2017 Xterra world champion, took a close men’s race that came down to the run.
After coming out of the water with the lead group, Weiss initially moved to the front on the bike, only to find himself in a three-way battle for the lead into t2.
“I made a few mistakes at the end of the first lap and had a few bobbles and Sam (Osborne) and Ruben (Ruzafa) closed the gap that quickly,” said Weiss. “That’s how this race is. You make a few mistakes and lose your rhythm, and the other guy is on you. When Sam and Ruben and I started the second lap together, my game plan changed. I decided that I needed to ride with these guys and get to the top while conserving as much energy as possible. Ruben was pushing really hard on the downhill, but the problem with this type of slick course is that there is a fine line between going hard and making mistakes.”
Ruzafa would end up crashing three times on the bike, but still started the run next to Weiss, who pulled away from the Spaniard at the 4 km point of the run. Weiss stayed clear to the finish line, but Ruzafa would have to settle for third after being caught at the 8 km point of the run by France’s Arthur Serrieres.
|Top 10 Elite Men|
|1||Bradley Weiss||Stellenbosch, South Africa||2:33:39|
|2||Arthur Serrieres||Montpellier, France||2:34:54|
|3||Ruben Ruzafa||Malaga, Spain||2:35:23|
|4||Sam Osborne||Rotorua, New Zealand||2:37:02|
|5||Cedric Fleureton||Albigny, France||2:37:25|
|6||Josiah Middaugh||Eagle-Vail, Colorado, USA||2:40:36|
|7||Karel Dusek||Karlovy Vary, Czech||2:42:37|
|8||Karsten Madsen||Kitchener, Canada||2:43:39|
|9||Maxim Chane||Falicon, France||2:43:55|
|10||Karel Zadak||Brno, Czech||2:44:03|
|Top 10 Elite Women|
|1||Flora Duffy||Devonshire, Bermuda||2:49:23|
|2||Lesley Paterson||Stirling, Scotland||3:03:35|
|3||Helena Erbenova||Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech||3:04:37|
|4||Morgane Riou||Fontenay Aux Roses, France||3:05:22|
|5||Lizzie Orchard||Auckland, New Zealand||3:05:32|
|6||Suzie Snyder||Reno, Nevada||3:06:00|
|7||Alizee Paties||Dijon, France||3:10:55|
|8||Penny Slater||Wamboin, Australia||3:11:53|
|9||Samantha Kingsford||Tirau, New Zealand||3:15:46|
|10||Carina Wasle||Kundl, Austria||3:16:31|