(Mellieha, Malta) - Nicolas Fernandez and Brigitta Poor took home the elite titles at the inaugural XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon on Sunday.
It’s the first major XTERRA win for both, and puts them atop leader board of the XTERRA European Tour standings as the first race of the season.
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report:
"Look Out there is a new Nico in town. No sooner does Nico Lebrun retire to become XTERRA’s technical director than Nico Fernandez puts in a dominating performance winning his first XTERRA here on Malta.
Fernandez races for Monaco and I have this theory he is a Monegasque but truly he lives in France.
Another wonderful surprise today was Brigitta Poor’s first XTERRA win in the woman’s race. Brigitta was first out of the water, built a great lead on the bike and was able to stay well in front of a hard charging Sandra Koblmueller.
The winners were not the only story today. Finally the weather became Malta Magnificent with sun, blue skies, nice waves and perfect temperatures. The pretty blue sea turned brilliant blue sea and the neat wildflowers simply pumped with color. It was a perfect Chamber of Commerce day in Malta.
Big problems at the start as the jet ski that was taking the buoys out got the anchor line somehow caught in its jet shaft and could not get it out. It also meant the prop would not turn inside its housing and the jet ski, buoy, line and anchor all started drifting dangerously close to the rocky cliffs. We quickly changed the swim route from a U shape to a triangle and finally got things started about 20 minutes late. Quick swimmer Roger Serrano from Spain was first out followed closely by young Brice Daubord and a bunch that included Jan Pyott and Fernandez were not far behind.
Fernandez quickly caught Daubord and took the lead at about the 6K mark. He steadily rode away leaving Serrano wondering. “I had a good race today” he said. “Not my best ever but everything was fast. This guy was too strong today.”
Roger was stronger than the rest, however, and although Daubord came back fast on the run coming from 5th off the bike to 3rd overall he cramped a bit and the Spaniard beat him by 15 seconds.
The run here proved to be the game changer. Francois Carloni had broken a toe on Friday but was able to get up into 3rd off the bike only to be run down by the French trio of Daubord, Fabien Combaluzier, and Clement Briere. Jan Pyott was having a very strong bike before crashing heavily and injuring his hip. The Swiss was quite calm about it saying “these things happen. I was coming up through the field and felt good on the bike when something went wrong.”
The same luck for my pick to win, Kris Coddens. Coddens was not particularly fast on the swim but was also coming up strong on the bike and then suffered two flats. “ach, I must have lost 25 minutes fixing one flat and then having another.” A shame as Coddens is probably the fastest male runner out there and while he pulled back a lot of time it was not enough to gain him points.
|1||Nicolas Fernandez, FRA||2:09:28||75|
|2||Roger Serrano, ESP||2:11:37||67|
|3||Brice Daubord, FRA||2:11:52||61|
|4||Fabien Combaluzier, FRA||2:13:33||56|
|5||Clement Briere, FRA||2:14:12||51|
|6||Francois Carloni, FRA||2:14:32||47|
|7||Albert Soley, ESP||2:14:43||43|
|8||Jan Kubicek, CZE||2:18:17||39|
|9||Xavier Jove, ESP||2:18:25||36|
|10||Rory Downie, GBR||2:21:22||33|
|Also: Fabrizio Bartoli (30), Arthur Serrieres (27), Tim Van Daele (25), Matt Dewis (23), Lars Van der Eerden (21), Simone Calamai, Kris Coddens, Michal Bucek|
In the women’s race, as mentioned, our Hungarian lass Brigitta Poor was out of the water first.
“Oh I just kept looking forward and pushing hard” she smiled. “I did not know how fast Sandra was running but she made up 3 minutes every la !”
Good thing Brigitta had 9 minutes on Sandra coming off the bike. As for the fleet-footed German “I swallowed so much water in the waves” Sandra said. “My stomach was upset and I couldn’t get rid of the taste for a long time.” (Note: she said this while drinking a cold Cisk beer after the finish.)
There was a fabulous battle going on in front of Koblmueller between Elisabetta Curridori and Brit Jessica Roberts. Roberts had the best of it leading Curridori off the bike but she faded badly on the run. “I gave so much on the bike I just could not get the energy” she said, but still had a nice 6th place finish.
Unknown to both Curradori and Roberts, Maud Golsteyn was coming up fast. She had completed the South African Cape Epic the week before and was simply tired. “That is a cool race” she said, “but it is 8 days of hours on the bike and I am still tired”.
Maud put in the second best female run and passed her way up to 3rd getting by Currodori just near the end and got to the podium by a scant 12 seconds. Louise Fox had a steady race never faltering to take 5th.
|1||Brigitta Poor, HUN||2:37:40||75|
|2||Sandra Koblemueller, AUT||2:40:13||67|
|3||Maud Golsteyn, NED||2:43:16||61|
|4||Elisabetta Curridori, ITA||2:43:28||56|
|5||Louise Fox, GBR||2:44:36||51|
|6||Jessica Roberts, GBR||2:47:28||47|
|7||Karin Hansen, SUI||2:53:51||43|
|8||Danica Spiteri, MLT||2:59:21||39|
The day ended well with over 300 liters of Cisk beer available as well as a great buffet from the Radisson Blu kitchens. Gorgeous handmade glass trophies went to the top 3 in each age group and competitors, friends and families all sat and drank and chatted on the sun drenched deck for hours after the finish.
Our European series started with a true World Class introductory race by the solid Maltese crew with the added benefit of two spanking new XTERRA winners. Normally I just send photos of the podium finishers but for this race I am including some of the great vistas from the run and bike.
While the winners led nearly wire-to-wire there was a lot of passing and changing of positions. All this bodes well for a very competitive year. Make sure you start thinking now about starting 2016 here on Malta. You could not do better.
2015 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
XTERRA Malta was the fifth of 40 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 20th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on November 1, 2015.
* European Tour / + Asian Tour / # America Tour / ! Canada Series / = Hawaii qualifiers
|April 11||XTERRA New Zealand Championship|