XTERRA Belgium World Cup Weekend Wrap
June 11, 2023
The inaugural XTERRA World Cup touched down in Europe for the first time at the iconic Citadel in Namur in Belgium over the June 10-11 weekend.
ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – The inaugural XTERRA World Cup touched down in Europe for the first time at the iconic Citadel in Namur in Belgium over the June 10-11 weekend.
Results and recaps from both the XTERRA European Championship full-distance race and the XTERRA Belgium Short Track are below.
Felix Forissier, Loanne Duvoisin win XTERRA European Championship
Felix Forissier (FRA) and Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) won the XTERRA European Championship full-distance off-road triathlon elite titles at the Citadel in Namur, Belgium on Saturday, June 10, 2023.
It’s the third career XTERRA World Tour win for Forissier (2022 XTERRA France, 2021 XTERRA Portugal), and the second for Duvoisin, who won her first at XTERRA Czech in 2021.
The race was the fourth of 12 races in the XTERRA World Cup. On Sunday, June 11, the series continues with the fifth race in the Cup when the invite-only XTERRA Short Track race unfolds at the fortress. Fans can watch the replay of that race at xterraplanet.com.
In the men’s race, XTERRA newcomer Anthony Pujades (FRA) was first out of the water in 18:08, a full 20 seconds ahead of Jens Roth (GER) and 50 seconds in front of Michele Bonacina (ITA) who led a pack that included Arthur Serrières (FRA), Lukas Kočař (CZE), and Maxim Chane (FRA).
Felix Forissier was 13th out of the water, more than one-minute back with his older brother, Arthur Forissier (FRA), right behind. Seven-time World Champ Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) was 29th out of the water (2:30 back) and current Cup leader, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN), was the 38th man out (-2:40).
Things changed quickly on the bike, with the first glimpse of video showing Arthur Forissier, who won the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Taiwan two months ago, leading a pack up the cobblestone steps of the iconic Citadel on the bike with younger brother in tow and Kočař in the mix.
“That was the plan, to push from the start, I wanted to attack and influence the race,” said Arthur Forissier. “On the second lap, though, Felix was stronger than me and I wasn’t able to follow him. Or if I tried I wouldn’t have been able to run afterwards, so I had to slow down and follow my own pace so I could get to the finish line.”
In a field full of magnificent mountain bikers, Felix Forissier threw down the fastest split of the day, a 1:30:19 that was better than Ruzafa, his brother Arthur, Sloth Nielsen, home country favorite Sébastien Carabin (BEL), and even Olympic gold medalist Jaroslav Kulhavý (CZE).
“I think I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Felix Forissier, who also recently won the World Triathlon Cross Tri Championship title. “I had a quality bike, pushed a lot, and was a little scared I might have gone too hard but I wanted to make a difference.”
If he went too hard, his run didn’t show it. He posted the fastest 10K split (39:32) to widen the gap and crossed the line in 2:31:21, then waited more than three minutes to give his brother Arthur a big hug for finishing second.
“I’m incredibly happy to take the XTERRA European Championship title against such strong competition,” said Felix Forissier, who suffered a flat at the first race in the XTERRA World Cup in Taiwan but with this result is right back on track in the chase for the crown. “I wanted the points for this race and now I look forward to getting some more tomorrow.”
Coming in third was Ruzafa, who had the second best bike split and third best run to finish just 25-seconds behind Arthur Forissier.
“I’m just trying to keep up with these younger guys,” said Ruzafa. “There are so many strong XTERRA athletes racing now, the level of competition is so high. I had good energy today, and was really happy with my performance and the points I earned.”
Sloth Nielsen finished in fourth place, with Chane about 30 seconds back in fifth. Three-time XTERRA European Champion and reigning World Champ Arthur Serrières said he “overcooked” his training, and never truly recovered from XTERRA Oak Mountain, the travel, and a tough race at XTERRA Lake Garda. He finished 12th, and said he’s looking forward to the break before XTERRA Czech in August.
Everyone in the top 10 deserves a special mention, but perhaps none more than 2015 XTERRA World Champion, Josiah Middaugh (USA), who passed 110 people on the bike to finish 10th, or perhaps more remarkably, Carabin, who went from 198th out of the water to 11th at the finish line.
Top 10 Elite Men
Pos – Name, NAT (Time)
1 – Felix Forissier, FRA (2:31:21)
2 – Arthur Forissier, FRA (2:34:33)
3 – Ruben Ruzafa, ESP (2:34:58)
4 – Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN (2:36:42)
5 – Maxim Chane, FRA (2:37:15)
6 – Anthony Pujades, FRA (2:38:25)
7 – Lukáš Kočař, CZE (2:39:01)
8 – Sebastian Neef, GER (2:39:09)
9 – Michele Bonacina, ITA (2:39:41)
10 – Josiah Middaugh, USA (2:41:11)
In the women’s race, Daisy Davies led a trio of British speedsters out of the water in 19:17, which was good for an impressive 15th overall in a field that featured more than 50 elite men. Maisie Aubrey was second out of the water in 19:31 and 15-19 division all-star, Isla Hedley, was third just three seconds back.
Among the contenders, Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) posted a 21:02, about 1:40 off the front, with World Cup leader Alizée Paties (FRA) and reigning XTERRA World Champion, Solenne Billouin (FRA), another minute behind. Duvoisin was another 1:30 back in 23:41.
Just like in the men’s race, the race was quick to change shape once the mountain bike portion was underway and the cream of the crop rose to the top.
Mairhofer, arguably the best biker of the bunch, took to the front and stayed there much of the race despite suffering a flat in her front tire on the first downhill.
“It made it hard to push on the climbs, and I had to go slower on the downhills, but I was still riding good,” she said.
Paties and Duvoisin were riding good, as well, and although Paties was first to arrive into the bike-to-run transition, Duvoisin was just a few seconds behind and took the lead into the run. She had clocked the best bike split of the day in 1:44:49 to erase her deficit out of the water, then posted the best run of the day (46:05) to take the tape in 2:57:11.
“After the swim I thought, okay we can forget it, I was so bad, but then I felt okay on the bike and had some good legs so pushed as hard as I could,” said Duvoisin, who also won the last race in the World Cup, the Short Track showdown in Oak Mountain.
“This bike course was good for me, not too technical, so I was really comfortable on the downhill and could go hard. I wasn’t sure after the bike if I was going to be able to push on the run, but I felt good and just super happy with the win. Such a great atmosphere here for XTERRA.”
Mairhofer, who passed Paties on the run, finished second about one-minute behind Duvoisin, with Paties in third another 1:30 back.
“I did my best, but was completely dead on the run and that second lap was horrible,” said Paties. “I tried to stay with Loanne coming out of T2 but she was just too fast for me today, and so was Sandra.”
Billouin finished strong in fourth, with Marta Menditto (ITA) rounding out the top five, which are the same top five who sit atop the XTERRA World Rankings.
Top 10 Elite Women
Pos – Name, NAT (Time)
1 – Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
2 – Sandra Mairhofer, ITA
3 – Alizée Paties, FRA
4 – Solenne Billouin, FRA
5 – Marta Menditto, ITA
6 – Charlène Clavel, FRA
7 – Suzie Snyder, USA
8 – Bonnie Van Wilgenburg, GBR
9 – Helena Karásková Erbenová, CZE
10 – Emma Ducreux, FRA
ABOUT THE XTERRA WORLD CUP
In the chase for the Cup, 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.
The highest points’ scorers at the end of the year will be the first to ever lift the XTERRA World Cup trophy, and will take home the lion’s share of the series’ €350.000 in prize money.
Following the first stop in Taiwan in April, and the second round in the U.S. in May, this weekend marks the start of the World Cup’s European swing as four of the next five stops are in the EU. XTERRA Czech (August 12-13) and XTERRA Germany (August 18-19) are up next. Round six heads to the Rockies in Avon, Colorado for the XTERRA USA Championship (August 26), and the Cup concludes in Trentino, Italy with the final XTERRA Short Track race on Sept. 21 and then the World Championship on Sept. 23.
Find full coverage at xterraplanet.com.
All-time XTERRA European Championship Race Winners
Year Location – Men/Women
2006 Villacidro, Italy – Nicolas Lebrun/Renata Bucher
2007 Sardinia, Italy – Olivier Marceau/Eszter Erdelyi
2008 Sardinia, Italy – Olivier Marceau/Sibylle Matter
2009 Klopeinersee, Austria – Franky Batelier/Renata Bucher
2010 Sardinia, Italy – Franky Batelier/Melanie McQuaid
2011 Zittau, Germany – Olivier Marceau/Marion Lorblanchet
2015 Cranleigh, England – Ruben Ruzafa/Lesley Paterson
2016 Zittau, Germany – Ruben Ruzafa/Michelle Flipo
2017 Mons Klint, Denmark – Bradley Weiss/Brigitta Poor
2018 Zittau, Germany – Bradley Weiss/Brigitta Poor
2019 Prachatice, Czech Republic – Arthur Serrières/Morgane Riou
2021 Zittau, Germany – Arthur Serrières/Sandra Mairhofer
2022 Prachatice, Czech Republic – Arthur Serrières/Sandra Mairhofer
2023 Namur, Belgium – Felix Forissier/Loanne Duvoisin
All-time XTERRA Belgium Elite Champions
2016 – Kris Coddens/Helena Karásková Erbenová
2017 – Ruben Ruzafa/Helena Karásková Erbenová
2018 – Francois Carloni/Morgane Riou
2019 – Yeray Luxem/Morgane Riou
2021 – Arthur Serrières/Solenne Billouin
2022 – Arthur Serrières/Marta Menditto
2023 – Felix Forissier/Loanne Duvoisin
Sandra Mairhofer, Arthur Forissier win XTERRA Belgium Short Track
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 Aubrey Maisie (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 Ferriera 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 Ferriera, 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
3 – 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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