Solenne Billouin Wins in Challenging Conditions at Xterra World Cup in Taiwan

Solenne Billouin wins in challenging tropical conditions at the Xterra Asia-Pacific Championship, the first stop of the 2024 Xterra World Cup.

Solenne Billouin Wins in Challenging Conditions at Xterra World Cup in Taiwan

Solenne Billouin emerged victorious in the women's race at Stop #1 of the 2024 Xterra World Cup in Kenting, Taiwan, with a time of 3:10:02. The race, which doubled as the Xterra Asia-Pacific Championship, saw athletes battle brutal humidity and technical terrain.

The competition was fierce, with reigning Xterra World Champion Solenne Billouin and 2023 Xterra World Cup Champion Alizée Paties as top contenders. Italy's Marta Menditto also entered the race with momentum from recent success.

Kenting's tropical climate posed a significant challenge, with temperatures rising from 23°C, 91% humidity, and 11 km/h winds. The diverse landscape of southern Taiwan's mountains introduced unpredictable obstacles.

How the Race Was Won

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) led the swim with a time of 21:51, followed by Anna Zehnder (SUI) at 22:32 and Xterra newcomer Cheri Cho (HKG) at 22:35. Billouin and Paties emerged from the water together at 23:19, with Menditto just 4 seconds behind.

The 29km mountain bike segment proved crucial. Billouin, known for her mountain biking skills, gained significant time on Paties, reaching T2 with the fastest bike split of 1:43:12 compared to Paties' 1:46:21. Grabmüller fought to maintain her lead but eventually lost positions to Billouin and Paties.

In the final 12K trail run, Menditto made up a nearly 2-minute gap on Grabmüller, capturing a well-deserved 3rd place. Billouin solidified her lead, showcasing her strength on the steep climbs.

Post-Race Reflections

Marta Menditto (3rd place): "It was really humid and the hills were steep. I think I can do better in the other stops. Happy to start the World Cup with 3rd place."

Alizée Paties (2nd place): "It was difficult, painful. Not my best day, but I put in long hours this winter with more intensity later in my training. I love the technical bike course, but it was so hard with the humidity and hot weather."

Aneta Grabmüller's impressive performance as a new mother, finishing 4th and being greeted by her infant daughter and husband at the finish, captured the hearts of spectators.

Solenne Billouin (1st place): "I was feeling very strong in January, but February was challenging with an injury and a long sickness. On the bike, my legs felt very heavy, yet steep climbs are really my strength. I never won the World Cup last year, so I'm very happy to be the leader now."

Hannah Lee Young (AUS) demonstrated patience and experience, earning the women's Asia-Pacific Champion title by overtaking Cheri Cho (HKG) in the latter stages of the race.

Solenne Billouin's victory in Taiwan showcased the blend of endurance, technical skill, and adaptability required to succeed in the challenging conditions. The race set the stage for an exciting 2024 Xterra World Cup series.

  1. Solenne Billouin (FRA) - 3:10:02
  2. Alizee Paties (FRA) - 3:13:13
  3. Marta Menditto (ITA) -    3:16:51
  4. Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) - 3:23:09
  5. Anna Zehnder (SUI) - 3:27:46
  6. Jacqui Allen (GBR) - 3:30:52
  7. Carina Wasle (AUT) - 3:38:40
  8. Hannah Lee Young (AUS) - 3:45:59
  9. Lorena Erl (GER) - 3:58:23        
  10. Cheri Cho (HKG) - ​4:40:12