Why it matters: Arthur Forissier and Sandra Mairhofer emerged victorious at the 16th annual Xterra France off-road triathlon, marking their ninth and sixth career Xterra World Tour wins respectively.
Setting the pace: The race was unusual in that the start order and timing were determined by the previous day's Enduro results. Both champions, having won the Enduro, were first to start the full-distance race.
What they're saying:
- Forissier: "Today was more a management issue. I was just on the limits, but very careful not to go into the red zone."
- Mairhofer: "My level is really improving right now... I was able to enjoy the run with all the people cheering my name, it was really special."
- Doug Hall, Xterra Europe GM: "This led to some extremely interesting racing and some athletes who we wouldn't normally see hit T1 in the lead changing the race dynamic completely, creating a good show in my opinion."
By the numbers:
- Forissier's winning time: 3:03:53
- Mairhofer's winning time: 3:26:16
- Forissier's career Xterra World Tour wins: 9
- Mairhofer's career Xterra World Tour wins: 6
Between the lines: The race’s unique start format, based on the Enduro race's results, added an extra layer of excitement and unpredictability, and perhaps affected the outcomes. It's an innovative format that could shape future Xterra races.
Through Time: Forissier, the 2019 Xterra France Champion, and Mairhofer, with a solid Xterra track record, demonstrated their seasoned skill and strategy to outpace their competitors in the challenging triathlon.
The bottom line: The Xterra France results underscored the exceptional skills and versatility of the champions while presenting a fresh twist to the race format, which could redefine competitive dynamics in future events.
How the race unfolded: In the men's race, the battle for supremacy unfolded between Arthur Forissier, the 2019 Xterra France Champion, and Maxim Chané, the 2021 champion. Despite being first out of the water, Michele Bonacina (ITA) quickly had to pull out due to illness. The French duo Forissier and Chané then fought a close battle, with Forissier launching a late attack in the last downhill segment of the bike race to earn a 40-second lead. This lead remained unchallenged until the end, earning Forissier his ninth career win. Chané, despite battling a cold all week, managed to secure second place, followed closely by Sébastien Carabin (BEL) who posted the fastest bike split of the day.
The women's elite race was dominated by Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) who led from start to finish despite starting 15 seconds behind due to the Saturday's Enduro results. She had the fastest bike and run times, crossing the finish line almost 9 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Alizée Paties (FRA). The battle for the runner-up spot was more contentious, with several athletes vying for the position. Paties managed to secure the second spot, while Diede Diederiks (DEN) posted the day's fastest run time to secure a close third.