Arthur Serrieres and Solenne Billouin captured the 5th XTERRA Belgium off-road triathlon elite titles on a rainy day in Namur on Saturday, July 10, 2021.
It’s the 11th career XTERRA World Tour victory for Serrieres, his fourth this season and third in four weeks. It’s the second big win for Billouin, who earned her first last weekend at XTERRA France.
XTERRA Belgium Men's Recap
In the men’s elite race, Brian Tetard was first out of the water together with XTERRA France winner, Maxim Chané (pictured below).
A chase pack featuring Karel Dusek, Arthur Serrieres, and Bart Cooymans followed 30 seconds back with a solid group including Francois Carloni, Kristoffer Visti Graae, and local favorite Yeray Luxem two-minutes behind the leaders.
By the midpoint of lap one on the bike, Chané, Carloni, Serrieres, Dusek, Cooymans and Visti Graae were all working together, with Tetard and Luxem pushing hard one minute behind.
Carloni, Chane and Serrieres managed to distance Dusek and Visti Graae by the end of the first lap while a great effort from Luxem saw him catch the chasing duo.
Twenty-seven kilometers into the bike Carloni suffered a mechanical which ended his chances for a second victory in Namur. “I managed to break my chainring,” he explained. “I was feeling great today, but this is all part of the game.”
Chané and Serrieres entered T2 together with Luxem chasing two minutes back in third, followed by Dusek hot on his heels just 30 seconds behind. Sebastien Carabin who was more than four minutes back from the leaders after the swim, posted the fastest bike split of the day and was in 5th place at the start of the run.
Serrieres , who is renowned for his run, started to pull ahead over Chané whose legs weren’t as fresh. “I was spent after last week’s win in France,” said Chane.
Luxem also suffered on the run, potentially after having to expend a lot of energy on the bike to catch the leaders. Dusek was gaining ground fast, as were Belgian duo Carabin and Mathias Cloostermans, who was also hunting for the Belgian national championship title.
Serrieres posted the fastest run split of the day to claim yet another XTERRA title in 2:26:47, more than four minutes ahead of Chane who finished second.
“After a really bad performance in France, I had to think hard about my strategy and needed to race smart. I knew Max was probably not fully recovered after XTERRA France so I paced myself and rode with him into T2 knowing I would probably have the edge on the run. I am very happy with how everything worked out,” said Serrieres.
The battle for third continued right up to the finish line between Dusek and Cloostermans with Carabin only seconds behind but it was the Czech athlete Dusek who edged Cloostermans to the line by a single second to claim his first-ever XTERRA podium spot.
“I am ecstatic with my race and my first ever XTERRA podium. I had a little crash on the bike and lost contact with the lead group, so to be able to come back to finish third is an amazing feeling,” said Dusek.
Despite being edged to the line, Cloostermans still earned the title of Belgian national champion while Carabin also had another great day finishing 5th, with Luxem in 6th place.
Elite Men Top 5
|1||Arthur Serrieres, FRA||2:26:47|
|2||Maxim Chane, FRA||2:31:14|
|3||Karel Dusek, CZE||2:32:58|
|4||Mathias Cloostermans, BEL||2:32:59|
|5||Sebastien Carabin, BEL||2:33:08|
XTERRA Belgium Women's Recap
In the women’s race, Solenne Billouin looked great from the start and full of confidence from her win in France last week. Carina Wasle came in 35 seconds behind after the swim, with the chasing group of Mandy Dammekens, Linda Van Vliet, and Segolene Leberon following behind.
After some great riding and hard work, Billouin managed to open a one-minute gap to her competitors on the bike. Working her way through the field was age-group athlete, Christene Verdonck, and despite starting minutes behind the elite women she was applying pressure to the top riders.
Van Vliet posted the fastest bike split of the day, moving into second place. She said, “I loved the bike course and felt very good. I stumbled on the run and twisted my ankle which made things difficult towards the end. But I really enjoyed the race a lot.”
She managed to claw back Billouin’s lead before the end of the bike and enter transition first. Billouin followed two minutes back with Verdonck still in 3rd place one minute behind, and Wasle in 4th.
The race was far from over, with a thrilling chase on the run from Billouin. 5km into the run, she overtook Van Vliet before extending it by another 40 seconds. This was enough to take the win, crossing the finish line at a time of 2:59:56 and celebrate back-to-back wins.
“It was hard to stay focused on the bike as I know some strong girls were coming from behind,” said Billouin. “When I got going on the run, I felt good and managed to pass Linda. Now, it’s time to rest a bit before the second half of the season.”
Experienced athlete, Carina Wasle, posted the fastest run split of the day, managing to hunt down Van Vliet to finish second. After the race she commented, “I really did not know what to expect today as my season has not gone so well. I took it easy during the swim and paced myself on the bike. On the run I felt good and just went all out.”
An incredible performance by age-group athlete, Verdonck earned her a 4th place finish overall, with Segolene following in 5th and Dammekens in 6th.
Elite Women Top 5
|1||Solenne Billouin, FRA||2:59:56|
|2||Carina Wasle, AUT||3:00:45|
|3||Linda Van Vliet, NED||3:02:01|
|4||Leberon Segolene, FRA||3:09:25|
|5||Mandy Dammekens, BEL||3:13:42|
Relive race coverage on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/xterraeurope/
Photos and videos are available: Facebook.com/xterraeurope
All-time XTERRA Belgium Elite Champions
2016 – Kris Coddens/Helena Karaskova
2017 – Ruben Ruzafa/Helena Karaskova
2018 – Francois Carloni/Morgane Riou
2019 – Yeray Luxem/Morgane Riou
2021 – Arthur Serrieres/Solenne Billouin