XTERRA Oak Mountain World Cup Weekend Wrap
May 22, 2023
More than 1,000 athletes from a dozen countries flocked to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama over the weekend for the XTERRA World Cup debut in the U.S.
/ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – More than 1,000 athletes from a dozen countries flocked to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama over the weekend for the XTERRA World Cup debut in the U.S.
The endurance sports festival kicked off on Thursday, May 18, with the Ales & Trails Bike Fest and followed with XTERRA Super Sprint racing on Friday, full and sprint distance XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlons on Saturday, the XTERRA Americas Trail Run Championships on Sunday morning and XTERRA Short Track off-road triathlons in the afternoon.
Results and recaps from all the events can be found at xterraplanet.com and the XTERRA World Cup race reviews are below.
Saturday, May 20, XTERRA Oak Mountain Full-Distance Recap
Arthur Serriers and Alizee Paties from France won the men’s and women’s elite races at XTERRA Oak Mountain, the second stop on the XTERRA World Cup, on a beautiful day in Shelby County, Alabama on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
It’s the 22nd career XTERRA World Tour victory for Serrieres, his first this season, and the sixth big win for Paties, who is now 2-for-2 in the World Cup following her win at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship last month in Taiwan. Both will be back in action tomorrow at the XTERRA Oak Mountain Short track race, which will be streamed live on xterraplanet.com. https://www.xterraplanet.com/watch-live
In the men’s elite race, Eric Lagerstrom (USA) blitzed the swim in 19:43, nearly 30 seconds ahead of the “Shark” Michele Bonacina (ITA) and the speedy Sam Osborne (NZL).
Edmond Roy (CAN) and Keller Norland (USA) were one-minute behind the lead, Elliot Bach (USA) and Arthur Serrieres (FRA) were 1:20 back. Other contenders were further off the pace, with Sullivan Middaugh (USA) two minutes back, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) 2:30 behind, Josiah Middaugh (USA) 3:40 back, and Sebastien Carabin (BEL) 5:30 back in 19th position.
Once on the bike, Lagertsrom was rolling, not only keeping the gap but pulling away in the first half of the ride. At the bottom of Jekyll n’ Hyde about 25K into the 32K bike course he still had a minute on the chase pack that featured Osborne and Serrieres, with the Middaugh’s (Sullivan and Josiah) not far back. Xavier Plouffe (CAN) was up there too, but suffered a flat that took him out of contention.
It wasn’t until about 3K before the bike-to-run transition that Osborne and Serrieres caught up to Lagerstrom, and the trio went wheel-to-wheel speeding through the forested single track like a centipede on the prowl before reaching T2 together.
One-kilometer into the run they were still in a bunch and the foot race was on. Roughly 3K in, Serrieres made his move. Lagerstrom went with him, but Osborne fell back.
“Arthur just kind of ever so slowly opened up a gap, and I was close, but it was one of the situations where I could go after him and risk blowing up and end up finishing sixth, or just hang in there,” said Lagerstrom, who made a big statement today with his runner-up performance.
Serrieres, however, did what he did best by posting the fastest run of the day (36:45) to take the tape in 2:25:30, with Lagerstrom in second place 38-seconds back.
“Eric was really strong today, and I didn’t expect him to be at this level,” said Serrieres. “I ran really fast and he stayed with me for a long time, it was a great battle. I just managed to do what I had to do to win the race.”
With the win, his first since capturing the XTERRA World Championship in Italy last year, Serrieres moves into the second spot in the XTERRA World Cup standings.
“Good to be back on the winning track after a couple of tough races in Taiwan and Ibiza,” he said. “With everyone focusing on the World Cup the level is really high so it’s a good victory, and great to get some big points and give me some confidence back. Now, I look forward to the European Championships in Belgium and taking all the European guys over there in what will be another tough race.”
For Lagersrom, the performance paints a pretty good picture of what he can do against XTERRA’s best, and has him looking forward to some more off-road triathlons in the future.
“I really love it, I mean it’s type 2 fun to a degree, you have to be focused the whole time. But today I was surprised to be up front for that long, surpassing my expectations because I didn’t feel like I was going crazy or anything and they were still not coming on the bike. I was expecting Josiah to come rolling with the whole field up the big long fireroad climb because he crushes those dual climbs. But I always felt that if I’m having a good day and could hold a gap out of the water long enoughI could be more relaxed going out on the run and that happened. One of those race days you want to have, the dream scenario.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s XTERRA Short Track race, Lagerstrom teased, “I don’t know, I was super sprint national champ in 2015, so there’s a little bit of pop in there somewhere. Guess we’ll see…”
Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) finished just 16-seconds behind Lagerstrom in third, and with the points took the lead in the XTERRA World Cup standings.
“Was a tough day, had a lot of work to do after the swim but was able to almost bridge the gap to the front group going into the run,” said Sloth Nielsen. “The run was super fast, and was really close, we could see each other and it was a bit scary to run out there. Felt like short track racing all the way through because of the single track, I had to suffer to get through, so I’m happy with the third, there’s more to come.”
And just 15 seconds later in fourth place was Josiah Middaugh, having posted the second-best bike time in 1:24:55 (just 16-seconds slower than Sebastien Carabin from Belgium) and the second-fastest run split that was just 12-seconds slower than Serrieres’ time.
“Really happy with my day, the body showed up today, and I didn’t have any major problems,” said Middaugh, who was out of the water in 18th position. “I actually felt great in the water, but I ended up losing the group and by myself out there. Once on the bike it’s pretty tight that first six miles, a little tricky getting through people. People were pretty tightly spaced, so I was just moving through one person at a time.”
Middaugh got into T2 in eighth, and powered his way through the field.
“I caught up to the Canadian, Edmond Roy, at the end of the bike, then got by Sully, and Michele, and I was trying to catch up to Jens. Got within five seconds with 2K to go and he turned on the jets to catch Sam for third, and I got by Sam but couldn’t reel in Jens.”
Osborne was solid all day to round out the top five, coming in just 22-seconds behind Middaugh.
“It was an exciting race, and after what I felt was a below par year last year I was happy to be back at the front being a player this time round,” said Osborne. “I hit the trails and hoped to close the gap down quick but Eric was riding really well and it took a long time to close it to seven seconds 3/4 of the way up the climb. Wasn’t until the last section of trail I took it up to close the gap down and come off the bike neck & neck with Eric & Arthur. I tried to take it out hard and make it a tough one but after 2k Arthur hit the front and split us. I hit 8.5-9k and was starting to get wobbly, lost 3rd place with Jens & Josiah rolling through me which hurt. Frustrated I couldn’t close it out for the podium but it was a step in the right direction of where I want to be playing the cards at the front of the field again.”
In the women’s elite race, Samantha Kingsford (NZL) led out of the water in 23:07 with Suzie Snyder (USA) six seconds back and then Solenne Billouin (FRA), Paties, Jessie Koltz (USA), Marta Menditto (ITA), and Lizzie Orchard (NZL) all together about 40 seconds off the front.
“I had a good swim, and got into the first part of the trails first which is alway nice to be able to ride at your pace and take your own lines, but once we hit the first road section the Euro train (Alizee and Solenne) came through Suzie and myself. These girls are riding well at the moment, and are definitely setting the bar for the ride strength!”
The race turned into another Alizee-Solenne bike battle up front, just like Taiwan, until the reigning XTERRA World Champion (Billouin) suffered a mechanical breakdown in the rock garden section a little more than half-way through the bike.
“Solenn got a flat, then I managed alone from there and had three minutes at T2, so I was able to do the run in my own space,” said Paties. “It was difficult with the heat, and the run was flat so you had to push all the time. The bike here is fun and amazing.”
At the finish line, Paties, who spent her younger years dancing in the cabaret, performed a traditional French CanCan after crossing the line with a winning time of 2:47:18.
“It was for Bob,” she laughed, explaining how Bob Babbitt had encouraged her to show off her dance skills at the finish line during an interview earlier in the week. “It’s my favorite dance from the Moulin Rouge, a very big cabaret in France.”
Billouin, however, was not in the dancing mood. After the mechanical took her out of contention she was going to exit the race, but when race officials reiterated the rule about how athletes have to finish the full-distance race to be eligible for Short Track the next day, she fixed her bike and soldiered on to a last place finish, but one that enables her to race and gain points in the World Cup tomorrow.
With Billouin on the side of the trail, Kingsford and Snyder moved into second and third positions
“Suzie and myself rode the whole bike together, switching turns at taking the lead which was really good as it kept us both on the gas for the whole ride,” said Kingsford. “After blood rock we came through Solenne who had a mechanical, and ultimately came into T2 together. I knew I had to have a fast transition and make the most of the road section to get a gap, and thankfully I was able to do that! This run may not seem like there’s a lot of climbing to it, but it definitely takes a lot out of you. Unfortunately for me, my run fitness showed and I was just overtaken by Marta with like 1k to go so I came home 3rd.”
Menditto had the run of the day, a 44:08 split that was a minute faster than Paties to move into second on the day and second in the World Cup standings.
“I came off the bike in 5th at T2 and I was dead, but on the run I tried to push and believe in myself,” said Menditto. “I caught LIzzie, then Suzie, then was happy with third, and 1km to the finish I saw Samantha and it was like I could catch her, and I did. It was amazing. Really happy to move all the way up to 2nd with the points, because I didn’t know what to expect. Today gave me a lot of confidence, I showed that I can be good on the swim and the run, now I just have to work on my bike.”
Lizzie Orchard turned in a strong run to finish fourth, and Snyder battled through some breathing issues to round out the top five.
Sunday, May 21, XTERRA Oak Mountain Full-Distance Recap
Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) and Arthur Serrieres (FRA) captured the XTERRA Oak Mountain Short Track off-road triathlon titles on a hot and humid afternoon at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
The action-packed event was the first of five XTERRA Short Track races in the XTERRA World Cup, and the first-ever in the U.S. It combined a two-lap 400-meter swim, with a three-loop 7.5-kilometer mountain bike, and a two-lap 3K trail run.
Duvoisin won it in 38 minutes, 30 seconds, Serrieres in 33:28, and both were awarded 20 points for their efforts. For Duvoisin, the reigning XTERRA Short Track Series Champion, it’s her fourth career XTERRA Short Track victory since winning the first one in 2019, and for Serrieres it’s his third.
As one of 12 points-scoring races in the inaugural XTERRA World Cup, it was a great opportunity for elites looking to lock in a good result early in the season.
To determine XTERRA World Cup Series Champions, elites add their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three (of five) XTERRA Short Track scores, and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship.
In the women’s elite race Jessie Koltz (USA) made quick work of the quick swim and was in the bike-to-run transition with the lead, but Alizee Paties (FRA) was first out of T1 and kept that lead all the way through T2 until Duvoisin made her move.
Duvoisin was 15-seconds behind Paties, the XTERRA World Cup points leader, after the swim but then posted the best bike split to pull within striking distance on the run, and doubled down with the fastest 3K sprint of the day to take the tape 14 seconds ahead of Paties.
After passing Paties on the big uphill on the first lap of the run, Duvoisin said she wasn’t sure if she could keep the gap, but was happy that she did.
“After a really bad day yesterday in the full-distance race (she was 7th) it was really satisfying to come here today and get the win,” said Duvoisin. “I love these short races, they’re really cool. And this track is fun – it’s fast and furious and just really happy to get the win today.”
Paties was equally happy with second and to keep the overall lead in the XTERRA World Cup standings after three of 12 points scoring races. Samantha Kingsford (NZL) finished strong in third place.
Place – Name, NAT (Time) Points
1 – Loanne Duvoisin, SUI (38:30) 20
2 – Alizee Paties, FRA (38:44) 18
3 – Samantha Kingsford, NZL (39:14) 16
4 – Marta Menditto, ITA (41:05) 15
5 – Lizzie Orchard, NZL (41:57) 14
6 – Lisa Becharas, USA (42:04) 13
7 – Suzie Snyder, USA (42:11) 12
8 – Katie Button, CAN (42:44) 11
9 – Carolyne Guay, CAN (44:54) 10
10 – Jessie Koltz, USA (46:17) 9
In the men’s race Michele Bonacina (ITA), Eric Lagerstrom (USA), and Keller Norland (USA) posted a sub five-minute swim and the high speed chase was on.
The bike was quite the spectacle, with more than a dozen men in close contact early on. By the last lap, however, it was Bonacina, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (who had the fastest bike split) and Serrieres wheel to wheel as they rolled into the bike-to-run transition together. Serrieres had the fastest change-over and just edged Sloth Nielsen to the start of the run and that was that.
“I know I’m a speedy runner and I like to start strong, so the other guys will think it’s not possible to follow me,” said Serrieres, who also won yesterday’s XTERRA Oak Mountain full-distance race. “Truth is though, I struggled on the second lap but made it. This was a great weekend, something special, and we had good battles out there and I can’t wait to come back to the U.S. for more racing in the future.”
Serrieres put on a show for the global audience watching the live stream with a spectacular run that was really fun to watch. His stride sets him apart, and his 9:29 3K run split was the difference in this one.
Sloth Nielsen finished 17-seconds back in second place, solidifying his top spot in the XTERRA World Cup rankings until at least June 10 when stop three unfolds at the Citadel in Namur, Belgium. And Bonacina picked up his first Short Track podium with a brilliant all around effort.
“Great day, it was amazing out there,” said Sloth Nielsen. “Fun, fast racing. It’s amazing how much you have to suffer. On the run, I knew it was going to be fast, it’s like running against Kipchoge, so happy to take second. These first two stops on the XTERRA World Cup have been amazing. First Taiwan, now here, and next to Belgium. Can’t wait.”
Place – Name, NAT (Time) Points
1 – Arthur Serrieres, FRA(33:28) 20
2 – Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN (33:45) 18
3 – Michele Bonacina, ITA (34:00) 16
4 – Sam Osborne, NZL (34:18) 15
5 – Kieran McPherson, NZL (34:35) 14
6 – Eric Lagerstrom, USA (34:42) 13
7 – Josiah Middaugh, USA (34:46) 12
8 – Edmond Roy, CAN (34:49) 11
9 – Sullivan Middaugh, USA (35:08) 10
10 – Francisco Serrano, MEX (435:27) 9
All-time XTERRA Short Track Champions
Date (Location) – Women’s Winner/Men’s Winner
August 4, 2019 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) – Loanne Duvoisin/Arthur Forissier
September 4, 2020 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) – Laura Philipp/Arthur Serrieres
October 3, 2020 (Trentino, Italy) – Marta Menditto/Ruben Ruzafa
June 5, 2021 (Lake Garda, Italy) – Loanne Duvoisin/Arthur Forissier
June 20, 2021 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) – Marta Menditto/Arthur Forissier
August 20, 2021 (Zittau, Germany) – Diede Diederiks/Lukas Kocar
August 29, 2021 (Pujols, France) – Michelle Flipo/Arthur Serrieres
July 2, 2022 (Xonrupt, France) – Loanne Duvoisin/Panagiotis Bitados
August 14, 2022 (Prachatice, Czech Republic) – Sandra Mairhofer/Lukas Kocar/
August 19, 2022 (Zittau, Germany) – Alizee Paties/Felix Forissier
October 2, 2022 (Trentino, Italy) – Daisy Davies/Lukas Kocar
May 21, 2023 (Shelby County, AL, USA) – Loanne Duvoisin/Arthur Serrieres
PATIES, SLOTH NIELSEN STILL GOLDEN
With solid second place finishes for both Alizee Paties and Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen in today’s XTERRA Short Track race, both retained their spot high atop the XTERRA World Cup standings after the first three of 12 events in the series.
Up next, the European swing. Round three of the XTERRA World Cup will take place at the Citadel in Namur, Belgium, home to the 2023 XTERRA European Championship on June 10-11. Then it’s XTERRA Czech (August 12-13), and XTERRA Germany (August 18-19). All three stops will host full and short track races. Then it’s back to the U.S. for the XTERRA USA Championship (full-distance only) on August 26, before the finale in Trentino, Italy (Short Track Thursday, Sept. 21, and World Champs on Sept. 23).
Top Five Men
Pos. – Points – Name, NAT
1 – 190 – Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN
2 – 184 – Arthur Serrieres, FRA
3 – 146 – Sebastien Carabin, BEL
4 – 143 – Michele Bonacina, ITA
5 – 138 – Kieran McPherson, NZL
Top Five Women
Pos. – Points – Name, NAT
1 – 228 – Alizee Paties, FRA
2 – 169 – Marta Menditto, ITA
3 – 168 – Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
4 – 150 – Suzie Snyder, USA
5 – 139 – Lizzie Orchard, NZL
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