It was a great weekend for the French in Taiwan, as Arthur Forissier and Alizee Paties took home the tape at the first ever XTERRA World Cup in an event that doubled as the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships in Taiwan.
The race at the Kenting National Park kicked off the first of seven XTERRA World Cup events in 2023, which seeks to pit the best in the sport against each other as part of a series which culminates with the XTERRA World Championships.
Round two, which will take place at Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama, takes place on May 20-21, before the series heads to Europe for the first of three races on the continent between June and August.
Paties dominates on the run to take the win
Paties, who won her fifth XTERRA World Tour race in Taiwan, was made to work hard for her victory as compatriot and defending XTERRA World Champion Solenne Billouin kept the pace honest throughout the race.
After local elite Chang Chi Wen lead out of the water ahead of a chase group of six, Paties and Billouin made their way to the front, with Billouin posting the fastest bike split of the day as the French duo quickly gapped the rest of the field, with the victor looking likely to be one of the two as they entered T2.
Despite leading off the bike by around 15 seconds, Billouin couldn’t keep Paties at bay, as the latter made her move with 6km left on the run and never looked back, winning by close to two minutes with an incredible run split to take down the defending world champion.
After the race, Paties shared just how much the race win meant, revealing that she quit her job at the start of the year to fully focus on racing, with that sacrifice seemingly paying dividends in Taiwan.
“It’s a very special win for me, because I just quit my job two months ago so I could focus on racing. I’m proud of myself, and proved what I did this winter worked, even though it wasn’t easy.”
Behind the French pair, Loanne Duvoisin of Switzerland just ran out of real estate in a late bid for second, as she narrowly fell short of catching Billouin by twenty seconds to finish third. Kiwi Maeve Kennedy, in finishing fifth, won the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships.
Elite Women’s Results: XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships
- 1. Alizee Paties (FRA) – 3:06:30
- 2. Solenne Billouin (FRA) – 3:08:42
- 3. Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) – 3:09:04
- 4. Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) – 3:15:35
- 5. Maeve Kennedy (NZL) – 3:18:02
Forissier too strong across the board
In the men’s race, only one of the fabled French quartet managed to make it on to the podium, but in taking top spot, Forissier showed that he’s the man to look out for this season.
Italian Michele Bonacina led out of the water, with both Forissier brothers, Arthur and Felix, right behind. A further minute back, Spaniard Ruben Ruzafa and Dane Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen left themselves with a lot of work to do on the bike and run if they were to have any chance of taking the win.
At the 10km mark, Ruzafa caught the front group of six, and whilst the rest of the group held strong, the Spaniard kept the tempo hot at the front of the race. After French duo Maxine Chan and Felix Forissier both punctured at 22km, Ruzafa was able to make a break for it, and came into T2 with just under half a minute back to Arthur Forissier.
Whilst Ruzafa looked strong, he couldn’t hold off Forissier, who made the pass at the 5km mark and continued to push on, as he took a commanding victory with the fastest run split of the day, leaving Ruzafa to settle for second over a minute back.
Behind, Nielsen took the last spot on the podium, and Kieran McPherson won the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships by virtue of being the first men’s finisher from the APAC region.
After the race, Forissier shared that he had put a lot of work into the first race of the season, and the way in which he won has given him a lot of confidence heading into the rest of the year.
“Feels really good to win this one, it gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the World Cup,” he said. “I’m happy because it’s a long trip, and I put a lot of energy into arriving in good condition, and all those efforts paid off.”
Elite Men’s Results: XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships
- 1. Arthur Forissier (FRA) – 2:36:39
- 2. Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) – 2:37:45
- 3. Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) – 2:41:11
- 4. Kieran McPherson (NZL) – 2:41:29
- 5. Sebastien Carabin (BEL) – 2:42:18