Arthur Serrieres and Morgane Riou captured the sixth annual XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon elite titles on a hot but beautiful blue-sky morning at the Majjistral Nature Reserve on Saturday, September 12, 2020.
It’s the seventh XTERRA World Tour victory for both of the reigning XTERRA European Champions from France.
The event, operating within Malta national and local health guidelines, combined a 1.5K swim in the warm waters of Golden Bay with a three-loop, 30K mountain bike and a 10.5K trail run around the picturesque cliffs and rocky paths overlooking Ghajn Tuffieha.
In the men’s race 19-year-old sensation Francois Vie was first out of the water in his elite debut with Maxim Chane just seconds behind. One-minute back was a group featuring Julien Buffe, Francois Carloni, and Serrieres. Seven-time World Champ Ruben Ruzafa was 1:30 back of Vie, and Sebastien Carabin was more than five and a half minutes behind the leaders.
On the bike Carloni and Serrieres worked their way to Chane at the front of the race and those three came into the bike-to-run transition together. Vie entered T2 in fourth, followed by Ruzafa then Carabin who posted the fastest bike split of the day by two minutes and 30 seconds. The professional Belgian mountain biker posted the fastest split at XTERRA Czech last weekend as well.
Serrieres, who won XTERRA Czech last Saturday, took the lead early on the run and never looked back, crossing the line in 2:12:45 for his second win in as many weeks.
“On the bike I did the first part with François, riding all out to come back on the leaders, and when we all came to transition together I knew I could win,” said Serrieres. “I am happy we are able to race and these victories help keep my motivation at a high level.”
The fastest run belonged to Carabin, who continues to impress. He passed Vie, Ruzafa, Chane, and Carloni on the run to finish second, a little more than one-minute behind Serrieres.
“I was six minutes behind the leaders after the swim but with my good bike skills I was closing the gap on every loop,” said Carabin. “At T2 I was able to see the guys in front, and I was feeling great because I like racing in hot weather. I am super happy with my performance today and now I have to improve my swim to go to the next step.”
Carloni finished strong in third, with recently crowned XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine Champ Maxim Chane in fourth, and Ruzafa in fifth.
“Starting the run with Serrieres I knew I had no chance for a victory today, so I tried hard to fight for second place but Carabin was coming very fast from behind,” said Carloni. “Overall I am really happy with third, and what an amazing performance from this young kid Vie, he is very strong and has a big potential.”
Elite Men Results
|1||Arthur Serrieres, FRA||18:36||1:10:50||42:07||2:12:45|
|2||Sébastien Carabin, BEL||23:34||1:08:21||40:18||2:13:57|
|3||Francois Carloni, FRA||18:35||1:10:51||45:06||2:15:46|
|4||Max Chane, FRA||17:54||1:11:40||46:45||2:17:19|
|5||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||19:20||1:12:25||45:38||2:18:32|
|6||Francois Vie, FRA||17:50||1:13:20||50:53||2:23:16|
|7||Julien Buffe, FRA||18:32||1:15:59||48:38||2:24:58|
|8||Samuel Jud, SUI||20:00||1:17:32||50:13||2:29:28|
In the women’s race Riou came out of the water just seconds behind Carina Wasle and swim-leader Marta Menditto, then pulled away with the fastest bike and run splits to take the tape in 2:36:58, nearly 14-minutes ahead of Wasle in second.
“I needed that after a bad weekend in Czech last week,” said Riou. “It was a good revenge as this time I was feeling very strong from the start. I was able to swim next to Marta, where last week I was almost two minutes behind. We started the bike all together, but I felt strong and took the lead then just tried to stay focused as the course is fast and hard with lots of rocks and you have to concentrate all the time.”
For Wasle, the Mediterranean sun was every bit as fierce an opponent as Riou.
“This might have been the hardest race I ever done as the heat killed me today,” said Wasle. “I even had to jump into the sea for a few seconds before starting the run loop to cool down a little bit. Morgane was very strong today, and Marta too, but the biggest fight of the day was to reach the finish line without collapsing under the sun.”
Menditto finished in the top three for the third time in three weeks. She was second at XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine and third last week in the Czech Republic.
“I had no energy today, left everything at XTERRA Czech last week,” said Menditto. “The swim part was not bad, but as soon as we started the bike I had nothing, it was impossible to push and follow them. I’m done, I need some rest now.”
Pauline Vie, like her brother Francois, made her elite debut this morning and finished fourth, followed by Malta elite Lara Buttigieg.
Elite Women Results
|1||Morgane Riou, FRA||21:48||1:24:32||49:02||2:36:58|
|2||Carina Wasle, AUT||21:45||1:29:43||57:47||2:50:48|
|3||Marta Menditto, ITA||21:42||1:37:18||57:42||2:57:58|
|4||Pauline Vie, POR||25:11||1:38:23||1:04:27||3:09:49|
|5||Lara Buttigieg, MLT||24:20||1:43:20||1:45:06||3:55:56|
More pictures available at: https://www.facebook.com/XTERRAMalta/
All Time XTERRA Malta Elite Champions
2015 Nicolas Fernandez/Brigitta Poor
2016 Roger Serrano/Brigitta Poor
2017 Roger Serrano/Brigitta Poor
2018 Roger Serrano/Brigitta Poor
2019 Rui Dolores/Maria Doring
2020 Arthur Serrieres/Morgane Riou