Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) and Arthur Forissier (FRA) captured the XTERRA Belgium Short Track off-road triathlon titles on a beautiful day at the Citadel of Namur on Sunday, June 11, 2023.
The made-for-TV event was the second of five XTERRA Short Track races in the XTERRA World Cup, and combined a 400-meter swim in the warm waters of the Meuse river, with a three-loop 7.3-kilometer mountain bike, and a two-lap 2.6K trail run.
Mairhofer won it in 44 minutes and 5 seconds, Forissier in 37:39, and both were awarded prize money and 20 points for their efforts. For Mairhofer, the reigning World Triathlon Cross Tri Champion, it’s her second career XTERRA Short Track victory, and for Forissier, his fourth since winning the first one in 2019.
Today’s race was the fifth of 12 points-scoring races in the XTERRA World Cup. To determine the Cup winners, elites add their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three-of-five Short Track scores, and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship.
In the women’s race, Emma Ducreux (FRA) and Maisie Aubrey (GBR) were first out of the water in nearly six-minutes flat, with Solenne Billouin (FRA), Alizée Paties (FRA), Suzie Snyder (USA), Loanne Duvoisin (SUI), and Sandra Mairhofer all about 20 seconds back.
Once on the bike, it didn't take long for Mairhofer to climb past the pack and move to the front. She posted the fastest bike split (26:44) by nearly one-minute and took a big lead on the run where she was never challenged.
“This course suits me well, it’s got a lot of climbing and that worked to my advantage,” said Mairhofer. “It’s amazing to get the win today, especially after having some bad luck with the flat tire yesterday.”
Paties and Billouin came into T2 together, but Paties had the better run to finish second, with Billouin rounding out the podium.
“Happy with second, because I was dead after the race yesterday,” said Paties, the XTERRA World Cup leader after five races. “The bike was long for a Short Track, and very physical and technical too. I’m excited to keep the golden jersey, now it's time to recover and train so I can be in shape come August.”
Duvoisin, yesterday’s full-distance winner at the XTERRA European Championship, finished in fourth with Beatriz Ferreira from Portugal coming in fifth place after having to push her bike for 8K due to a mechanical failure in the full-distance race on Saturday.
The next stop on the XTERRA World Cup is at XTERRA Czech, with full-distance racing on August 12, and XTERRA Short Track on August 13. XTERRA Germany (August 18-19) is after that, then round six heads to the Rockies in Avon, Colorado for the XTERRA USA Championship (August 26) before the Cup concludes in Trentino, Italy with the final XTERRA Short Track race on Sept. 21 and then the World Championship on Sept. 23.
Top 10 Elite Women
Pos - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Sandra Mairhofer, ITA (44:05) 20
2 - Alizée Paties, FRA (44:47) 18
3 - Solenne Billouin, FRA (45:03) 16
4 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI (46:26) 15
5 - Beatriz Ferreira, POR (48:16) 14
6 - Marta Menditto, ITA (48:55) 13
7 - Segolene Leberon, FRA (49:24) 12
8 - Stepanka Bisova, CZE (49:42) 11
9 - Suzie Snyder, USA (49:55) 10
10 - Carolyne Guay, CAN (51:19) 9
In the men’s race, Anthony Pujades (FRA) was first out of the water in five minutes and nine seconds, with Jens Roth (GER) eight seconds back followed by Keller Norland (USA), Michele Bonacina (ITA), Lukas Kočař (CZE), and Arthur Serrières (FRA).
Arthur Forissier (FRA) was 34 seconds back out of the water but made his way to the front of the bike with Pujades, Bonacina, and Kočař by the top of the climb to the fortress. By the end of the first lap, Kočař and Forissier had pulled away a bit as Maxim Chane (FRA) and XTERRA World Cup leader Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) moved into third and fourth.
Forissier was first on to the run, followed by Kočař and Chane, but Sloth Nielsen (DEN) - who came out of the water almost a full minute behind the swim leaders before making quick work of the short, steep sections on the dusty bike course - ran past those two and got within striking distance of Forissier on the run.
Ultimately, Forissier came across the line as the “king of the castle” at the first-ever XTERRA Belgium Short track competition.
“Pushed very hard up the first hill on the bike and rode with Kočař who always pushes really hard on the bike,” said Forissier, now with two wins and a second-place finish on the World Cup. “Once I got on the run, I was able to manage my pace and maintain the gap for the win.”
Sloth Nielsen posted the fastest bike and run splits of the day to finish in second place.
“Thrilling racing out here today, it was tough from the gun, especially on the bike,” said Sloth Nielsen. “I closed the gap quickly on the bike but couldn’t get in front. I suffered and struggled, but still had fun out there, great racing. Now I’m looking forward to a little break, and a great summer to get ready for the second half.”
Chane, the 2022 XTERRA Short Track series champion, held off Kočař to finish in third place.
“Just tried to do my own race, start smart and finish strong,” said Chane. “I hardly slept last night, and it's super hot, so just did my best for as long as I could out there today.”
Kočař crossed the line in fourth with yesterday’s XTERRA European Championship full-distance race winner, Felix Forissier, in fifth.
Top 10 Elite Men
Pos - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Arthur Forissier, FRA (37:39) 20
2 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN (37:48) 18
3 - Maxim Chane, FRA (37:54) 16
4 - Lukáš Kočař, CZE (38:05) 15
5 - Felix Forissier, FRA (38:23) 14
6 - Arthur Serrières, FRA (38:39) 13
7 - Michele Bonacina, ITA (38:55) 12
8 - Theo Dupras, FRA (39:08) 11
9 - Anthony Pujades, FRA (39:40) 10
10 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP (39:42) 9
PATIES, SLOTH NIELSEN STILL GOLDEN
With their strong runner-up performances in the XTERRA Short Track races today, Alizée Paties and Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen defended their spots at the top of the XTERRA World Cup leaderboard after the first five of 12 races in the 2023 series.
Loanne Duvoisin, Marta Menditto, Suzie Snyder, and Sandra Mairhofer round out the top five for the women.
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Women, after 5 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 336 - Alizée Paties, FRA
2 - 293 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
3 - 258 - Marta Menditto, ITA
4 - 224 - Suzie Snyder, USA
5 - 202 - Sandra Mairhofer, ITA
Sloth Nielsen, Arthur Serrières, Arthur Forissier, Michele Bonacina, and Ruben Ruzafa form the top five for the men after the first half of the season.
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Men, after 5 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 291 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN
2 - 238 - Arthur Serrières, FRA
3 - 229 - Arthur Forissier, FRA
4 - 209 - Michele Bonacina, ITA
5 - 198 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
Up Next: XTERRA Czech, August 12-13
All-time XTERRA Short Track Champions
Date (Location) Men’s Winner/Women’s Winner
August 4, 2019 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) Arthur Forissier/Loanne Duvoisin
September 4, 2020 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) Arthur Serrières/Laura Philipp
October 3, 2020 (Trentino, Italy) Ruben Ruzafa/Marta Menditto
June 5, 2021 (Lake Garda, Italy) Arthur Forissier/Loanne Duvoisin
June 20, 2021 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) Arthur Forissier/Marta Menditto
August 20, 2021 (Zittau, Germany) Lukáš Kočař/Diede Diederiks
August 29, 2021 (Pujols, France) Arthur Serrières/Michelle Flipo
July 2, 2022 (Xonrupt, France) Panagiotis Bitados/Loanne Duvoisin
August 14, 2022 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) Lukáš Kočař/Sandra Mairhofer
August 19, 2022 (Zittau, Germany) Felix Forissier/Alizée Paties
October 2, 2022 (Trentino, Italy) Lukáš Kočař/Daisy Davies
2022 XTERRA Short Track Series Champions: Maxim Chane/Loanne Duvoisin
May 21, 2023 (Pelham, AL, USA) Arthur Serrières/Loanne Duvoisin
June 11, 2023 (Namur, Belgium) Arthur Forissier/Sandra Mairhofer
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