The hills of Germany echoed with the sounds of pounding feet and churning wheels on Saturday, August 19th, 2023, as elite triathletes from around the world converged to test their mettle at the Xterra Germany full-distance off-road triathlon. This grueling race, held at the picturesque Olbersdorfer See, marked the 9th stop on the coveted Xterra World Tour and promised to deliver epic battles as the season heads towards its climax.
The day dawned bright and clear, perfect weather for a brutal race across 2.5km of open water, 95km of undulating trails, and a 10km trail run. France’s Arthur Serrières stepped up as the man to beat, having captured 3 previous Xterra Germany titles and sitting 2nd overall in the World Tour standings. His fellow countryman Felix Forissier posed his biggest threat, while veterans like 7-time world champion Ruben Ruzafa sought one more moment of glory. On the women’s side, France’s Alizée Paties wore the mantle of World Cup leader, but faced challenges from the likes of Loanne Duvoisin and reigning world champ Solenne Billouin.
The swim leg kicked off the action, with German Jens Roth blazing out to an early lead that only American Eric Lagerstrom could match. They built a 30 second gap on the chase group containing the main contenders like Serrières, Forissier, and Ruzafa. But the real fireworks erupted on the mountain bike course, as its climbs and technical descents created opportunities for attacks. Forissier fired the first salvo, forcing Serrières to react as they broke clear of the chasers. Ruzafa’s aggressive riding earned him a flat tire, effectively ending his comeback hopes. Meanwhile, World Cup leader Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen found himself isolated, facing a massive deficit of nearly 3 minutes by T2.
The run would prove decisive, becoming a dramatic mano-a-mano duel between Serrières and Forissier as they battled the entire 10km. In the end, Serrières dug deep in the final 500 meters to edge his rival by a mere 7 seconds in 2:41:05. It was his 24th World Tour victory and proved this young French star is reaching his peak. Forissier could take pride in pushing Serrières to the limit, calling it his best ever 2nd place. An exhausted but proud Sloth Nielsen secured 3rd to hold onto his World Cup lead, though his first elusive Xterra major still beckoned.
In the women’s race, Emma Ducreux took an early swim lead while Paties bided her time in the chase group. But Paties showed her class on the bike, building a massive 4 minute advantage by T2 through raw power and technical prowess. A minor transition penalty barely slowed her inevitable march to victory in 3:11:41. Duvoisin ran the day’s fastest split to snatch 2nd from Billouin, who battled fatigue but gutted out 3rd in a display of grit that belied her world champion pedigree.
The final standings reflected the epic battles across the Bavarian countryside:
TOP 5 ELITE MEN
1 - Arthur Serrières, FRA (2:41:05)
2 - Felix Forissier, FRA (2:41:13)
3 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN (2:46:53)
4 - Michele Bonacina, ITA (2:48:47)
5 - Eric Lagerstrom, USA (2:49:36)
TOP 5 ELITE WOMEN
1 - Alizée Paties, FRA (3:11:41)
2 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI (3:14:44)
3 - Solenne Billouin, FRA (3:17:23)
4 - Marta Menditto, ITA (3:19:20)
5 - Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE (3:23:44)