Duathlon at Davos

The weather once again thwarted CHALLENGEDAVOS organizers’ plans and the swim was unable to take place due to cold temperatures. This meant the middle distance athletes took on a duathlon starting with a 4km run followed by a 54km bike over the Flüelapass and a final half marathon. In the women’s category, Nicola Spirig prevailed with a convincing start-to-finish victory while in the men’s competition, Roberto Sanchez (ESP) took the win.

CHALLENGEDAVOS became a real challenge for the athletes and the organizers. The weather in Davos at an altitude of 1,560m did not play the game! On race morning temperatures were just 7C and the water temperature was only 15C so the format was changed to a duathlon. Just in time for the start gun going off, light rain set in, which caused one or two athletes not to start. Most of them, however, faced the challenges and rode over the Flüelapass after the first run around Lake Davos. There the next stumbling block was put in the way of the athletes. Light snowfall demanded mental strength from the athletes and a certain nerves of steel for the descents.
The final, second run in Davos however, took place without rain and at milder temperatures. Despite the demanding conditions, the joy and relief and sense of achievement was huge for both age group athletes and professionals.

Local hero Spirig in a different league
The 2012 Olympic champion Nicola Spirig more than lived up to her role as favourite in the middle distance race. Already on the first 4km run she set herself apart from her competitors, extended her lead on the demanding bike course featuring 1,780m of altitude gain and won confidently in a time of 3:56:24 ahead of Lena Berlinger from Germany. Berlinger won the race in Davos in 2017 and 2018 and put on a strong performance behind Spirig, especially on the bike. As in 2019, third place went to the Italian Giorgia Priarone from Italy.

Can’t beat the Spaniards
Nobody anticipated the Spanish would dominate given the adverse conditions. It was clear both Roberto Sanchez and Alberto Moreno Molins could run quickly but that they would cope best with such difficult conditions was surprising. Sanchez led after the first run, but lost the lead on the bike to David Breinlinger from Germany, who despite the rain posted a blistering bike split. With a lead of almost seven minutes, the man from Heidelberg switched to the running track and had the chance to win his first big race. But it quickly became clear that the two Spaniards Sanchez and Moreno Molins were much faster and were catching up second by second. After only 12km the lead was lost and Breinlinger was overtaken by Sanchez, who won in a time of 3: 33: 47.0. With a solid performance in both disciplines, his compatriot Alberto Moreno Molins secured second place. It was a bitter blow for the strong cyclist Breinlinger that he overtaken by his compatriot Samuel Böttinger just a few meters from the finish.