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“The Cherry on Top” – Challenge Family European Season Finishes on Three Highs

The Challenge Family season is finishing on a high with impressive fields at its last three European races for 2023, Challenge Barcelona, Challenge Mallorca and Challenge Vieux-Boucau in France featuring multiple Olympians and five current or former World Champions.

Last weekend, Challenge Barcelona offered up some exciting racing with no less than six Olympians on the start line including two-time gold medalist Alistair Brownlee (GBR) plus Aaron Royle (AUS), Kaidi Kivioja (EST) Lucy Buckingham (GBR), Sara Pérez Sala (ESP) who competed in swimming and Cam Wurf (AUS) in rowing. The result was an epic battle between Brownlee and Youri Keulen for the win, with Keulen coming out on top to take the inaugural Challenge Barcelona title. In the women’s Imogen Simmonds took the tape ahead of Lucy Buckingham for her third win of the season.

Many of the Barcelona athletes are doubling up and heading to the Mediterranean island of Mallorca for this weekend’s Challenge Peguera Mallorca on 14 October. Current 70.3 world champion, Rico Bogen (DEU) joins former world champions Brownlee and Pablo Dapena Gonzales (ESP), alongside fellow race favourites Frederic Funk (DEU), defending champion Jonathan Wayaffe (BEL) and winner of The Championship 2023, Mathis Margirier (FRA). Plus there’s the added twist that in such illustrious company, Youri Keulen (NED) has proven his form against the best, can he make it two in a row? And he is joined by fellow countryman, Menno Koolhaas, current Europe Triathlon Long Distance Champion.

In the women’s race, Imogen Simmonds and Lucy Buckingham will once again go head-to-head. Again, can Simmonds take back-to-back wins or will it be third time lucky for Buckingham who has been runner up to Simmonds at both Barcelona and Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee this year? Joining them is Kaidi Kivoja who suffered a flat in Barcelona so will be hungry to do well in Mallorca as well as Margie Santimaria (ITA) and Olivia Mitchell (IRE).

Rounding out three weekends of back-to-back world class racing, Challenge Vieux Boucau on 21 October welcomes another highly competitive field for its first edition on France’s west coast. In the men’s field, Dorian Connix (FRA), current World Series Champion joins repeat racers Brownlee, Margierier, Funk, Royle and Bogen plus Olympian Jelle Geens (BEL) joins the mix from the world of short course as well as Mika Noodt (DEU) and Arthur Horseau (FRA). In the women, Simmonds, like Brownlee, returns for round three alongside Daniela Kleiser (DEU) and Caroline Pohle (DEU), fresh from her third place at Challenge Barcelona.

In addition, Sam Laidlow (FRA) returns to the start line for the first time since his win in Nice, but as part of a relay team with two age group athletes who won the opportunity to race with the current world champion at Challenge Vieux Boucau.

Frederic Funk said with the championship season being done so early, it was great to be able to choose the races he wanted to do for maximum enjoyment. “I originally wanted to race the triple including Barcelona but together with my coach we decided that’s a bit too risky and we rather put it an extra training week to really perform in Mallorca and Vieux Boucau, each with championship-like starter fields,” he said. “Back-to-back racing usually works quite well for me and after Vieux Boucau I’ll go into the well-deserved off season so that makes me even more motivated to leave it all in those last two races. Other than that I already had such a great season, I have no pressure and am just searching for that cherry on top of the cake!”

Imogen Simmonds said she was looking forward to testing herself over three races. “I’m very excited about this “Triple Challenge Challenge” that I’ve set out for myself,” she said. “I love the fact that these three races are aligned on consecutive weekends, and it truly feels like a personal test of mental and physical endurance to race all three to the best of my ability.”

Challenge Peguera-Mallorca takes place this Saturday 14 October with the pro start at 9:00am CEST. For further information, visit www.challenge-mallorca.com.

Challenge Vieux Boucau takes place on Saturday 21 October with the pro start at 10:00am CEST. For further information, visit www.challenge-vieuxboucau.com.

Live updates from both races can be followed at www.challenge-family.live.