Maxim Chane and Alizee Paties captured the inaugural XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine off-road triathlon men’s and women’s elite titles at Lac de la Cadie in the south of France on Saturday, August 29, 2020.
It’s the first XTERRA World Tour win for both French athletes.
In the men’s elite race Chane was first out of the water, first off the bike, and first across the line with a winning time of 2:38:04, more than two-minutes ahead of the reigning XTERRA European Champion, Arthur Serrieres, and four-minutes faster than the 2019 ITU Cross Tri World Champ Arthur Forissier.
“I’m so happy to win my first XTERRA, to show I can win a full XTERRA distance, and on a hard course with a very long run,” said the 24-year-old from Falicon, France, who started racing XTERRA as a teenage and won the 15-19 division XTERRA World Championship in 2014 before going pro.
“I started the swim at tempo pace and after 200-meters pushed hard to take the lead. From there I found a good pace, swimming strong but not all out and was able to exit the swim with a comfortable lead, about one-minute to start the bike with no stress,” said Chane, one of the sports fastest swimmers who has posted a dozen top five finishes on the XTERRA World Tour over the last three years.
“I thought Ruben Ruzafa would catch me quick on the bike, but I didn’t see him until the end of the first loop and then I pushed hard and was able to drop him,” said Chane, who won the French Cross Triathlon National Championship last weekend.
Forissier posted the fastest bike split of the day and entered T2 less than a minute behind Chane and while he was able to close that gap to 18-seconds early on, he was not able to chase down Chane nor could Serrieres – who had the fastest run of the day by far and passed Ruzafa, Carloni, and Forissier to finish in second.
“I am happy with my second place today,” said Serrieres, who was the runner-up to Brad Weiss at XTERRA Worlds last year. “The guys were really strong in the front, and even though I was strong on the run it was too late to come back.”
Ruzafa, a three-time XTERRA World Champion famous for his mountain biking prowess, was a little more than one-minute back after the swim but made up the gap by the end of the first lap.
“First race of the year for me and I had no idea how I would perform,” said Ruzafa, who crossed the line in sixth behind Theo Dupras (5th) and Francois Carloni (4th). “I was happy to stay with the big pack during the swim, and same with my first loop on the bike as I caught Max who was leading. But when I did catch him, he pushed a little more and I totally exploded! From that point on it was really hard, I was just trying to finish the race.”
Forissier was equally pleased with his effort.
“I finished the bike 45-seconds behind Chane and knew it was possible to fight for the lead as I had good legs, but at the end of the second of three run loops I completely ran out of energy,” he said. "I think I didn’t eat enough on this hard race and paid for that, the last loop was a nightmare.”
In the women’s elite race Paties and Solenne Billouin were first out of the water with Marta Menditto in third just six seconds back.
Menditto took the lead early on the bike but Paties attacked on the technical sections to move up front. At the end of the first loop Paties was 45-seconds ahead of Menditto and more than three minutes ahead of Billouin. On the second loop Paties increased her lead and by the bike-to-run transition had two minutes and 30 seconds on Menditto and six-minutes on Emeline Azam in third place.
“I am so happy, I was waiting for this,” said Paties. “I don’t feel I had a great swim today, with Marta and Solenne on my feet. Marta started the bike really fast, and I didn’t try to follow her as I was confident for the technical part of the bike to come. At that point I slowly pushed more and took the lead. I put more time on Marta on the second loop, even though I had a small mechanical when my shifter came off. I stayed calm and finished the bike with a good gap. I was still not that confident as I know how fast Marta can run. Ultimately, all the training volume I did this winter payed off because when Marta came back close to me, I had the power to push and stay in the lead.”
Menditto, a strong runner and teammate of Paties, closed the gap to 53 seconds on the run to finish second. Azam had a very good performance to finish third, Leberon finished fourth, and Billouin fifth.
“Starting the run more than two minutes back I knew if I wanted to win I would have to run very fast," said Menditto. "I tried, but Alizee was too strong. Still, it’s a perfect start to my season, my first podium at XTERRA, and I am very happy for Alizee’s first win.”
For Azam, who is traditionally a road cyclist, the podium finish was a pleasant surprise.
“Very happy with this result today,” she said. “The swim part was a nightmare like usual, but at the end I was not far back. I always pay for my efforts on the swim during the first part of the bike. Even though I am a road cyclist, I enjoyed this mountain bike a lot today. The best discipline for me, however, is always the last one, the run, but it wasn’t easy to run fast because the loop was very technical.”
Complete results / Photos by Sammy Billon/Reportage