It’s the third straight win in Malta for Poor, who is the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champion, and it’s the second consecutive Malta victory for Serrano, who won the European Tour title in 2015.
XTERRA European Tour marketing director Kostas Koumargialis was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…
The weather this morning was cloudy and we were expecting some rain but finally it was ideal for racing. The sea was a little choppy but it was nothing compared to previous years’ conditions. The elites started thirty seconds ahead of the age groupers in order to have a clear swim, and the sprint distance race began ten minutes later.
In the men’s race, Roger Serrano was the first out of the water followed by Maxim Chane and Hannes Wolpert, just seconds behind him.
“I was not first in the first-loop of the swim, but I pushed a little bit on the 2nd-loop and managed to exit the water first,” said Serrano. “I left transition second but after 500-meters I took the lead and rode alone the whole course.”
Forty-seconds behind the first three out of the swim were Maximilian Sasserath, Tomas Kubek, and Francois Carloni.
“The swim was great for me because I was able to be with the fast guys,” said Sasserath, who posted a career-best runner-up finish today.
In the women’s race, Nicole Walters, a Silver-medalist as a paratriathlon guide at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, posted the fastest swim in her first-ever XTERRA race.
“I did not swim as well as I wanted, but was able to stay in front of the other girls,” she said.
One minute behind her was Anna–Paulina Sasserath, followed by last’s year winner, Brigitta Poor.
“My swim was bad; I was very slow but was happy to see myself third into transition,” said Poor.
Carina Wasle, motivated after her win at XTERRA Saipan a few weeks ago, was fourth out of the water. One minute later, the young Italian Menditto and former European Tour champion Kathrin Mueller were out of the water and climbing the stairs to transition together.
On the bike section, Serrano increased his lead progressively, while Chane struggled with his hardtail bike and Wolpert had a flat tire that caused him to withdraw.
Carloni pushed a lot on the first loop and was able to pass Sasserath and Kubek.
“I lost a lot of time in transition and was seventh when I started the bike,” said Carloni. “I was having a good day and was able to push a lot on the uphill. I was just one minute behind Roger on the first loop but decided to slow down and keep some energy for the run.”
Sasserath entered the bike-to-run transition in third place followed by Jorg Scheiderbauer and Kubek. Scheiderbauer was the surprise of the day on the bike, as he was 18th out of the water and managed to come into transition in fifth. Just seconds behind them was Maxim Danon, who was leading the amateurs race, with Jan Pyott in seventh and Jim Thijs in eighth place.
In the women’s race on the bike, Poor and Wasle passed Sasserath and Walters during the first 5km, but then Wasle flatted on the first downhill and Poor took the lead for good.
“On the bike, I felt very well and managed to pass everybody on the first loop,” said Poor. “I did a careful race after that trying to gain some time over the other girls. I managed to have four minute lead entering transition for the run.”
Wasle explained, “I started the bike together with Brigitta but had a flat very early. I tried to fix it but was losing air and had to stop several times. I lost lot of time riding on the rim.”
Behind them Helena Erbenova, who lost almost 5-minutes on the swim, was pushing hard on the bike to cover the difference.
“Starting the bike I knew I had to do my best to get in the front,” said Erbenova. “I was feeling great and powerful and enjoyed passing the other girls but even with that Brigitta was more than four minutes in front by the time I got to transition.”
Walters, in her first race on a mountain bike, was able to stay in touch with the leaders and was followed by Maud Goldsteyn. They both entered transition zone with one minute apart.
On the run, noone could touch Serrano, who was managing his pace and enjoying the lead. Even on this pace he did the 3rd best run of the day, finishing the race in first place, more than three-minutes ahead of Sasserath.
“I was feeling great all the time today and did not make any mistakes,” said Serrano. “I am so happy to win here for the second time in a row. Congratulations to the organizers, all the athletes and competitors. I’m looking forward to race in Greece at the end of the month and hope to win there too.”
The young German Sasserath has his best performance in an XTERRA today grabbing second place from Francois Carloni who finished third.
“I was able to see Carloni on the 2nd loop of the run. I was feeling strong, pushed hard and was able to pass him on the last downhill. This was a great day for me,” said Sasserath.
This year Jan Pyott was finally able not only to finish the race but also secure fourth place, with Jorg Sheiderbauer in fifth.
In the woman’s race, Poor’s lead on the run was enough to secure her third straight win in Malta.
“I tried to be relaxed and keep the gap back to Erbenova,” said Poor. “After the second loop I knew I was going to win here. It’s the best start of the 2017 season for me and I’m looking forward to the next events. Congratulations to all. See you soon.”
Erbenova followed in second after more than three-minutes, saying “I felt empty on the run. My concern was not to catch Brigitta but just to keep at least the second place.”
Newcomer Nicole Walters managed to finish 3rd followed by Goldsteyn in fourth and Wasle in fifth.
All-Time XTERRA Malta Elite Champions
2017 – Roger Serrano / Brigitta Poor
2016 – Roger Serrano / Brigitta Poor
2015 – Nicolas Fernandez / Brigitta Poor
The next stop on the XTERRA European Tour is April 23 at XTERRA Cyprus.
Learn more about the XTERRA European Tour here.
Tentative XTERRA Elite Results
XTERRA Malta was the seventh of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 29.