Serrieres, Mairhofer Win XTERRA Germany
Press Release / 25.08.2022
Arthur Serrieres from France and Sandra Mairhofer from Italy captured the 19th annual XTERRA Germany off-road triathlon with winning times of 2:40:35 and 3:06:55, respectively, on a rainy yet amazing day in Zittau.
For Mairhofer, it’s her fifth XTERRA World Tour win, second in-a-row on this course, and second in a week following last Saturday’s successful title defense at the XTERRA European Championship in the Czech Republic.
It’s the 20th career XTERRA World Tour victory for Serrieres, his sixth this season, third straight in Czech, and third win in as many weeks after claiming his third XTERRA European Championship title last Saturday, and the XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine title the weekend before that.
In the men’s elite race, home country hero Jens Roth set the pace out of the 1.5km swim in the iconic Olbersdorfer Lake per tradition at this event through the years.
Roth was out of the water in 19:29, a full-minute ahead of the rest of the contenders, but his lead on the bike was short lived as the level of mountain bike talent on the XTERRA World Tour right now is simply extraordinary.
The chase pack heading out onto the tough, hilly, 37K bike course, which was made even harder by a driving rainstorm that made the roots and rocks rather treacherous, was nine-men deep with Michele Bonacina (ITA), Keller Norland (USA), Francois Vie (POR), Sam Osborne (NZL), Federico Spinazze (ITA), Franco Pesavento (ITA), Maxim Chane (FRA), Serrieres, and Felix Forissier (FRA) all together.
Several swimmers even further back made their way into the mix on the bike, notably Arthur Forissier (FRA), Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen from Denmark (who ended up with the day’s best bike split, 1:35:55), and Sebastien Carabin (BEL).
After a grueling battle on the bike, Chane and Sloth Nielsen were first into the bike-to-run transition, with Arthur Forissier, his younger brother Felix Forissier, and Arthur Serrieres together about 45-seconds back.
From there, Serrieres strode away from the bunch, posting the fastest 10K run time in 39 minutes, which was nearly three minutes better than everyone but Carabin, who ran a 41:43.
“I wasn’t in my best shape today and it was really tough with the conditions during the bike, but I didn’t have any issues,” said Serrieres, who has positioned himself as the man to beat heading into XTERRA Worlds on October 1 in Trentino, Italy.
“I was in the front group on the bike but was losing a few meters at every corner, always costing energy to get back on the wheels. Then I had a good battle with Felix Forissier and it took until the end of the first run lap to get into the front, but once I was there, I controlled my effort and brought it home for the win.”
It was Arthur Forissier who made the big move on the run to jump into the runner-up position, crossing the finish line three-minutes back in second place.
“In Czech, I had a puncture and was beaten by better athletes in the short track, so here in Germany I was determined to really show what I could do,” said Arthur Forissier.
“I avoided any technical problems and felt great today so I am proud of this 2nd place,” he added. “With the level of competition you need a pretty perfect race to reach the podium. The depth is so good, the sport is growing and this is really good for the sport of XTERRA. This result is good for the mind and gives me a lot of energy and good vibes to focus ahead to Trentino.”
The race for the last podium spot was intense, with four men running down the dream. In the end, Sloth Nielsen finished third with Chane 17-seconds back in fourth, Felix Forissier another 29-seconds later in fifth (he got lost on the second lap of the run and dropped three positions), and Osborne 12-seconds behind him in sixth.
“I went so fast on the bike, I was surprised how quickly I was catching people after a bad swim,” said Sloth Nielsen, who was two minutes and 30-seconds behind Serrieres out of the water. “I caught the front group before the last climb on the bike, and pushed hard on the downhill with Chane to enter T2 ahead of the fast running French guys. I made a mistake choosing to run in race flats rather than in trail shoes, so it was super slippery on the downhills, and I was descending like an old woman!”
The Dane walked away feeling confident of his chances at the season finale in Italy, adding “I’ll have my last big party tonight in Zittau before preparing for the World Championships in Molveno. I truly believe that on that course I have what it takes to beat Serrieres, so I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve.”
Mairhofer Bikes to Another Win
In the women’s race Samantha Kingsford had the fastest swim (22:06) with Amanda Felder (USA), and Maria Calleja (ESP) right behind.
The contenders - Loanne Duvoisin (SUI), Mairhofer, Alizee Paties (FRA), Solenne Billouin (FRA), Lizzie Orchard (NZL), and Carina Wasle (AUT) - came out of the swim together a little more than two-minutes back.
Once on the bike, Mairhofer took over, absolutely dominating the rest of the day and posting the best bike time (1:50:59) to take an insurmountable lead into the run and take the tape with more than seven-minutes to spare on the runner-up, Paties.
“I really love it here in Germany, with the bike course being so difficult with so much climbing and so many technical parts, it really suits me,” said Mairhofer, who like Serrieres in the men’s field, has positioned herself as the woman to beat in Trentino.
“I felt awesome during the bike, and was fortunate to know I had a really good gap starting the run, so I pushed hard on the first lap, but backed it off to save the legs a little for some training preparations ahead of Molveno after that. The big goal is the World Championships, I cannot wait to race,” she said.
After an amazing performance on Friday afternoon to win the XTERRA Short Track Germany race, Paties was impressive again in the full-distance today.
“It was so hard, I tried to avoid any mistakes in the slippery conditions and when I could push I went to my maximum effort to hold my position,” said Paties, who had the second best bike split. “Sandra was incredible on the bike, so I focused on my own race and to be in good shape for the tough run leg. Molveno is only six weeks away, so once my position was secured, I focused on good form to help with preparation for the world championships.”
Perhaps the most incredible performances in the women’s race came from two XTERRA veterans, Wasle and Helena Karaskova Erbenova (CZE), who came in third and fourth.
“I’m so surprised, I can’t believe it,” exclaimed Wasle, the 2019 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion who has traveled to more international races than any other athlete over her 18-year career.
“I honestly think I had the race of my life! I had an amazing swim and could start the bike at the front of the race. I held my place on the bike, and I think experience paid off a bit today with the tough muddy conditions and so I had some good run legs, overtaking Samantha Kingsford just before the finish. I’m so happy to be back on the podium with XTERRA.”
For Karaskova Erbenova, the former Olympian and five-time XTERRA European Tour Champion who was inducted into the XTERRA Hall of Fame after her “retirement” in 2019, even a six-minute gap wasn’t enough to keep her out of the top five after posting the day’s third-best bike split.
Kingsford rounded out the top five, with Orchard in sixth, and Duvoisin in seventh after recording the day’s fastest run time (48:52). Of note, Billouin got a flat on the bike while riding in third position that ended her day.