Arthur Serrières (FRA) and Alizée Paties (FRA) made it a clean sweep by winning the XTERRA Germany full-distance off-road triathlon titles at Olbersdorfer See on Saturday, August 19, 2023, a day after capturing the XTERRA Short Track titles in Zittau.
It’s the 24th career full-distance XTERRA World Tour victory for Serrières, his fourth straight in Germany, and his second on the World Cup this year. With the win he moved past Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) into the top spot in the series standings after nine events. It’s the seventh career win for Paties and her third in the World Cup this year, solidifying her position at No. 1.
XTERRA Europe GM Doug Hall was on-site and filed this report…
A big push in the swim from Jens Roth - not keen to share the fastest swim with anyone, saw only American Eric Lagerstrom able to hang on to the German’s feet.
Behind, a patient Michele Bonacina (ITA) took a risk to stay within the main chase group and at the halfway point the pack featured all the big favorites; Serrières, Felix Forissier (FRA), Maxim Chané (FRA), Lukáš Kočař (CZE), and Jules Dumas (FRA), who were all content to ride the feet of the Italian.
Roth posted the fastest swim (20:10) with Lagerstrom right behind as the pair took a 30-second lead into the swim-to-bike transition.
Onto the bike, a powerful front group formed on the flat and fast opening 10km on the approach to the biggest climb on this epic bike course. Serrières led at the base, with Kočař, Vie, Forissier and Bonacina in close formation as this elite group peeled themselves off the front.
Lagerstrom was 50 seconds back and doing his best to hold off a charging Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) who was on a mission towards the front of the race after a bad swim.
Indeed the Spaniard was all in, catching the front group before the top of the climb then attacking like a man with nothing to fear on the descent, creating a gap before being undone by a flat tire and a broken wheel - an indication of how hard he was pushing
“I’m running out of ways to beat these young talented guys, so I have to take some huge risks if I want to try and win one of these ever again,” said Ruzafa, the seven-time World Champion. “I’ve already sent an email about racing next week in Beaver Creek, so maybe I can race there to give my World Cup season a boost.”
Cresting the top alone was World Cup leader Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN), who was two minutes back and pushing hard and making progress but with a mammoth task ahead of him when chasing the world-class group solo.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Forissier attacked, forcing Serrières to follow and the two carved out a lead during the rest of the bike leg and entered the bike-to-run transition with a one-minute, 30-second lead on Bonacina.
Sloth Nielsen entered T2 in 4th, but nearly three minutes from the lead, meaning the XTERRA World Cup leader would have to do the impossible to hold onto the golden jersey awarded to the series points leader after every race.
From then on it was the showdown we’ve all been waiting for, as the two Frenchmen - Forissier and Serrières - went to war over the 10km run. They battled the entire way until the last 500m where Serrières would have just enough to edge the victory by a mere seven seconds at the line thanks to a race-best 39.30 run split.
“That was definitely one of the toughest races I’ve ever had thanks to Felix,” said Serrières. “The victory is always great, but more special when you are pushed to the limit. We attacked each other on the bike and nothing stuck, but then Felix did a 10min full gas effort that left me with a 15-meter gap to close, I got back to the wheel and just laughed, this guy is so strong it's like a joke! After this we took a gap to the group, so played some poker until the second transition. Then during the run, we just played to our strengths and tried to hide our weaknesses. There were zero gifts and it was great to fight like this. I cannot wait for next month at the world championship, not to be arrogant, but we are the two best guys in the sport right now and I need someone to push me to my best level. Today I think together we did the best run performance there has ever been in XTERRA.”
Forissier was quick to agree, saying; “This is maybe the best second place I’ve ever had. I tried during the bike to attack and went really deep to try to break Arthur, but he managed to get back to the wheel and I knew that from now on it would be very difficult to beat this guy. I’d planned for this effort and knew exactly where to do it, going all in with everything I had. When he came back I had to hope he hadn’t managed his efforts, but we went out onto the run almost totally equal in energy and motivation. I tried everything to beat him and be first, but nothing worked. This was probably my best performance ever in a race so it's almost a victory to go this close.”
Sloth Nielsen ran past Bonacina for the final spot on the podium, the Dane still missing that elusive victory on the World Cup stage.
“A tough day, a roller coaster from the start,” said Sloth Nielsen. “I tried to do my thing on the bike, but on this course, the front guys can work together to keep me out of the race. I guess I need to do some homework on the swim to join the party in Molveno. With the first 10km being so flat and fast, a few of the guys can treat it like a social coffee ride, saving the energy for later where it counts. I don’t have that option right now so it took longer to get back into the race than normal. Fortunately there is no hiding in Molveno, so the tough day I’ve had today can only pay off next month. The organizers have treated all the athletes to a great weekend. The course, the vibes, the party, this is such a good race and I look forward to it every year. I’m looking forward to a couple of beers tonight, the party is always great here, and it's great to compare the battle stories with all the other athletes.”
Bonacina held on for fourth, a fantastic race for the Italian, followed by Lagerstrom in 5th. The American had a great day in Germany in only his second XTERRA full distance race of the year.
TOP 5 ELITE MEN
Pl - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Arthur Serrières, FRA (2:41:05)
2 - Felix Forissier, FRA (2:41:13)
3 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN (2:46:53)
4 - Michele Bonacina, ITA (2:48:47)
5 - Eric Lagerstrom, USA (2:49:36)
In the women’s race Emma Ducreux took nearly a minute lead into T1 after a solo effort, race-best swim of 23:24.
Behind her the World Cup superstars were all content to look at each other forming a powerful front group containing Marta Menditto (ITA), Paties, Solenne Billouin (FRA), and Beatriz Ferriera all hitting the first transition together. Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) entered T1 on the back foot after another less-than-stellar swim.
Not content to wait around, Paties put her foot on the gas. After displaying some magic legs in yesterday's XTERRA Short Track win, the Frenchwoman put on a masterclass during the mountain bike.
Pushing some big watts and wasting none of the effort on the technical sections, Paties built a huge buffer to enter transition with a four-minute and 20-second lead. Billouin reached T2 second with Duvoisin close behind, the Swiss woman having worked hard to make her way forward throughout the bike leg, catching Billouin on the flatter sections of the back end of the course.
For Paties, it was almost plain sailing all the way to the finish line, except for serving a 15 second penalty following a transition violation. The World Cup leader still had plenty of time to enjoy the finish line soaking up the applause as she completed her first perfect weekend.
“I’m super happy about a perfect weekend,” she exclaimed after the race. “Yesterday my legs felt so good in the Short Track and today the same, I pushed the hardest I could and every time I could just go. I relaxed on the swim, I didn’t want to be first and save my breath for the bike and run. I just stayed with the group and waited for the first technical part on the bike to push for the gap - then it was a case of riding my own pace and getting to the end of the bike. The run was tough! I was tired and focusing on my pace but then the penalty made me panic a bit, but fortunately I had a big lead and could relax. I can relax a little now in the World Cup standings, so I can focus on going all in for the XTERRA World Championship knowing I can chase a big result there.”
Duvoisin posted the fastest run split of the day (48:18) to move clear of Billouin to take the runner-up spot on the podium.
“Another bad start for me today, I felt awful during the warm up so I just had to take it step by step, pretending I was doing my favorite training session and just completing that instead of the race,” said Duvoisin. “So I did my favorite 4 x 30 minutes and somehow went back to the front of the race! I started the run with Solenne and knew I had to push as hard as I could for second place. It would have been so easy just to give up today, but I just had to keep going to prove to myself that I can have a good result while experiencing a bad day.”
For Billouin, the reigning XTERRA World Champion who swept the XTERRA Czech full-distance and Short Track races last weekend, the podium finish was hard earned.
“I’m happy with this after a really hard, long, hot day,” she said. “It was not a great day for me, my legs were not good all day so I am happy to make it to the podium even if it's not the top step. Last week (in Czech) everything was perfect, and the legs and body worked together. Today I had to race with just my head. I’m so thankful to the organization for putting together a race of this status, the course is so hard and worthy of a World Cup, the crowd simply won’t let you give up even if you feel like doing so.”
Marta Menditto finished in 4th, and veteran XTERRA athlete Helena Karásková Erbenová rounded out the top 5.
TOP 5 ELITE WOMEN
Pl - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Alizée Paties, FRA (3:11:41)
2 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI (3:14:44)
3 - Solenne Billouin, FRA (3:17:23)
4 - Marta Menditto, ITA (3:19:20)
5 - Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE (3:23:44)
Serrières New No. 1, joining Paties on top of XTERRA World Cup Standings
The XTERRA World Cup men’s leaderboard has a new number 1 for the first time since Oak Mountain back in May, as Arthur Serrières takes the lead with his win today. Felix Forissier also advanced, moving into the second-spot, with Sloth Nielsen dropping to third.
Also of note, Michele Bonacina jumped four spots to fourth, and Kočař moved up one to fifth.
In the women’s standings there was no change in order, but the points spread got closer as Duvoisin and BIllouin both improved their totals.
Up next, the XTERRA USA Championship full-distance race in Beaver Creek, Colorado this Saturday, August 26, before the final Short Track showdown of the season in Trentino, Italy on September 21 then the grand finale at the XTERRA World Championship on September 23.
To determine XTERRA World Cup Champions elites will add their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three Short Track scores and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship.
Find comprehensive coverage at xterraplanet.com/world-cup
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Women, after 9 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 456 - Alizée Paties, FRA
2 - 425 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
3 - 418 - Solenne Billouin, FRA
4 - 352 - Marta Menditto, ITA
5 - 277 - Sandra Mairhofer, ITA
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Men, after 9 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 414 - Arthur Serrières, FRA
2 - 402 - Felix Forissier, FRA
3 - 391 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN
4 - 296 - Michele Bonacina, ITA
5 - 292 - Lukáš Kočař, CZE
All-time XTERRA Germany Elite Winners
Year - Location - Men/Women
2023 - Arthur Serrières/Alizée Paties
2022 - Arthur Serrières/Sandra Mairhofer
2021 - Arthur Serrières/Sandra Mairhofer
2019 - Arthur Serrières/Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE
2018 - Bradley Weiss/Brigitta Poor
2017 - Sam Osborne/Brigitta Poor
2016 - Ruben Ruzafa/Michelle Flipo
2015 - Ben Allen/Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE
2014 - Ruben Ruzafa/Kathrin Mueller
2013 - Ruben Ruzafa/Jacqui Slack
2012 - Asa Shaw/Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE
2011 - Olivier Marceau/Marion Lorblanchet
2010 - Canceled due to flooding
2009 - Franky Batelier/Renata Bucher
2008 - Ronny Dietz/Renata Bucher
2007 - Franky Batelier/Carina Wasle
2006 - Sebastian Kienle/Carina Wasle
2005 - Nicolas Lebrun/Carina Wasle
2004 - Olivier Marceau/Katrin Helmcke
2003 - Nicolas Lebrun/Jamie Whitmore
2002 - Ronny Dietz/Ute Schaefer
*Held in Titisee from 2002-2007 and Zittau from 2010-2023
For news, event updates, stories and more.