A stellar field, which included four of the top 12 PTO-ranked males, took on the tough and honest course at Anfi Challenge Mogán-Gran Canaria today with Sam Laidlow and Anne Haug proving they are a force to be reckoned with over this distance.
There were no surprises in the swim with Aaron Royle leading out in 23:18, just two seconds ahead of Magnus Männer. Alessandro Fabian, Patrick Lange, Sam Laidlow and Jan Stratman all exited together only half a minute down on the lead setting the field up for an interesting bike that saw Royle, Stratmann, Laidlow and Margirier quickly dominate the field.
By the time they reached T2, they had a five minute lead over the chase group and the race was set for one of the most exciting runs of the season. All four entered transition together with Stratmann exiting first while Laidlow took his time to take on fluids showing maturity beyond his years, hitting the run course 12 seconds down along side Royle with Magirier a further 20 seconds down. After the hilly bike, the run was fast and flat but unforgiving with no respite from the Gran Canaria sun but it wasn’t long before Royle showed his running prowess, taking the lead within the first two kilometres but by 7km, Laidlow had caught up while behind him fellow Frenchman, Magirier was gaining ground. The final kilometres saw a battle between the two Frenchmen but ultimately it was Laidlow who showed his pedigree and took the win in 3:40:27. Magirier took second in 3:40:40 and Royle was exactly one minute behind in third.
“It was hard!” said Laidlow. “I felt terrible in the swim and bike with a lot of cramping, it’s a bit of a shock to the system when it’s the first race of the season. I’m really proud, I kept telling myself I had to race aggressively and I’m really stoked. Mathis really pushed me today, we’ve been following each other up the ranks since we were kids. Thanks to him and Jan Stratmann that we got away.”
It was third time lucky for Anne Haug who has had two aborted attempts to race in Gran Canaria. Caroline Pohle was first out of the water in 26:22, over a minute ahead of Margie Santimaria, Haug and Megan McDonald. However, as expected, within 30 minutes on the bike, Haug had caught Pohle and taken the lead and continued to extend that out to over four minutes at T2. Behind her, Astle was in second but with limited training on the run, it was always going to be difficult to hold on to the podium. Haug took the win in 4:05:38 with Diede Diederiks running up into second in 4:17:52 while McDonald took a breakthrough third place in 4:18:34.
“A race is a race and you always have to pull out a good performance,” said Haug. “My swim was OK, I tried to stay on Caroline’s feet but I was on my own. I tried my hardest but the bike was was tough and hard, but the run was so cool, you run alongside the beach, the crowd was amazing and supporting all the way. I’m so happy to take the win, it was an amazing race!”
Balli and Pérez Almeida, short distance leaders
The short distance has been led from start to finish by the Canarian prowess, with Karim Balli at the head with a time of 2.29.59 crowning himself as the champion. Local triathlete Willy García repeated with a great performance, just a few seconds behind the leader with 2.30.28 final time. Aníbal Romay closed the short distance in third position, stopping the clock in 2.42.37.
In the women’s race, Lucía Pérez Almeida was the big winner, with a solid and steady lead throughout the race. Cheered on by the thousands of fans who lined the race, Pérez Almeida was already eight minutes ahead of her rival in the swim, which put her firmly in the lead until the end of the race. She was joined on the podium by Marta Keller (3.03.09) and Elisabeth Solero (3.06.08).