Sarah Lewis joins BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team for 2019

The BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team have today announced their athlete roster for 2019, which features the addition of Great Britain's Sarah Lewis

Chief Correspondent
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Huge career news for Great Britain’s Sarah Lewis

Three British athletes on the 2019 BMC-Vifit roster

With British representation on the squad since its launch in 2014, the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team powered by Uplace have just announced their athlete line-up for the 2019 season, and Sarah Lewis will be joining Will Clarke and Emma Pallant on the eight-strong team.

A very close second last weekend at IRONMAN 70.3 Bahrain, Sarah started 2018 with a breakthrough performance at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai and shortly after that I did an extended interview with Sarah and one of the things we talked about was sponsorship or, in her case at the time, lack of it…

“…it is not something I’ve chased as I’m hopeful that my results will continue to improve and will put me in a good position to speak with potential sponsors in the very near future.”

Joining a team like BMC-Vifit with a full suite of support seems like a dream fit for both parties – and her determination and drive to recover from that horror bike crash in early 2017 and return to race winning ways would indicate that there is a lot more to come from her. Congratulations Sarah and BMC-Vifit – a great addition and fit for both parties from my perspective.

Here is the full, extended news today from CEO, Bob De Wolf.

BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team powered by Uplace presents team line up for 2019

  • 2019: building a legacy as BMC and Vifit continue their undivided support
  • BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team outlines ambitious targets and presents team roster for 2019
  • 8 athletes confirmed, 6 nations represented, four new faces

It was over a decade ago in 2008 that Uplace, as founding partner, made the first steps into the triathlon world. Since then, the team has continued to grow and has gone from strength-to-strength to become one of the worlds’ leading triathlon projects. CEO, Bob De Wolf reflects: “With 81 victories and 163 podium finishes over the last five seasons the results have been very impressive. Our focus this year was very clear. We wanted to perform at an outstanding level throughout the entire season and to continue our journey as one of the leading teams in the world. With a total of 19 victories this season including wins at Ironman Mont Tremblant, Ironman Philippines, Ironman Hamburg and Ironman Boulder and 31 podium places including a second place at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, we have had one of our best seasons ever. We are entering a new decade next year as a team and it is fantastic to be able to continue building on such a great project. I am elated with the continued support from BMC Switzerland for next season and the ongoing partnership with Vifit for 2019 and 2020.

World Title

“It is our ultimate ambition to win a World Title over the coming years”, says De Wolf. “Emma Pallant finished second at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2017 and Bart Aernouts claimed a fantastic podium place in Kona this season. I know this is an extremely ambitious target, but in the long run I strongly believe we have the operational set up, the support of fantastic partners and the quality in the team to do so.”

Also Troy de Haas, Head of Sport at BMC Switzerland, is extremely pleased to continue a very constructive partnership next season: “We have thoroughly enjoyed a close partnership with our professional triathlon team over the past six years, and we are extremely proud of their rise on the world triathlon stage. Supporting this group of individual athletes through a team format has proven very effective and efficient – and mirrors our approach across all our professional racing teams as extensions of the global BMC Switzerland family. Their feedback enables us to innovate and maintain our position of producing the world’s fastest Time Trial bike, the BMC Timemachine. We are excited to see what successes this extraordinary group of sporting talent brings in 2019!”

BMC Vifit Pro Triathlon Team
Photo Credit: James Mitchell

Sophie Nicolas, Team Manager Vifit Sport adds: “We are very excited about continuing this partnership with our Vifit brand as we truly believe in the shared values of the team and in developing the knowledge and benefits of high-protein and sports nutrition. The world of triathlon is growing really fast and we want to make our contribution to both lifting the current team to the highest level of performance as well as supporting the next generation of triathletes. We are really looking forward to the 2019 season and take great pride in working together with the full team to help achieve their ambitious targets for the coming years.”

BMC Vifit Pro Triathlon Team
Photo Credit: James Mitchell

Team line-up confirmed

The BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team has the clear ambition to continue to be a leading team in long distance triathlon. De Wolf indicates: “As we continue to set out very ambitious targets for the years to come, I am very proud and pleased with the team line up we have confirmed for next year. Confirmed athletes are: Will Clarke (UK), Pablo Dapena Gonzalez (ESP), Manuel Küng (SUI), Chris Leiferman (USA), Sarah Lewis (AUS), Patrik Nilsson (SWE), Emma Pallant (UK) and Chelsea Reilly Sodaro (USA).”

Emma Pallant – Photo Credit: James Mitchell

Team roster 2019:

  • Will Clarke (GBR): multiple IM 70.3 winner, one of the fastest British athletes at Ironman distance (7h45 IM Texas 2018), Beijing Olympian 2008, top 10 IM70.3 World Championship, 3rd IM North American Championship 2018
  • Pablo Dapena Gonzalez (ESP): World Champion ITU Long distance 2018, winner Challenge Gran Canaria 2018, winner Challenge Mallorca 2018, 2nd ETU Challenge Long Distance European Championship 2018, ranked 1st Challenge Family World Ranking 2018
  • Manuel Küng (SUI): multiple IM 70.3 winner, winner IM70.3 Luxembourg 2018, 2nd IM70.3 Rapperswil 2018 , 2nd IM 70.3 Finland 2018 & 2nd Challenge Mallorca 2018
  • Chris Leiferman (USA): winner IM Boulder 2018, winner IM Louisville 2018, 2nd IM70.3 Marbella 2018, winner IM Mont Tremblant 2016
  • Sarah Lewis (GBR/AUS): winner Challenge Rome 2018, winner Challenge Finland 2018, 2nd Middle East Championship IM70.3 Bahrain 2018, 2nd IM70.3 Dubai, 2nd ETU Long Distance European Championship 2018
  • Patrik Nilsson (SWE): 2nd IM European Championship in 2018, 4 x Ironman winner, 2 x sub 8 hours IM in 2016, winner IM Copenhagen 2016, winner IM Barcelona 2016, winner IM70.3 Barcelona 2016, 8th Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2017
  • Emma Pallant (GBR): Vice- World Champion IM70.3 in 2017, World Champion Aquathlon 2017, 2 x World Champion duathlon, winner IM70.3 Barcelona 2018, winner IM70.3 Staffordshire 2018, winner IM70.3 Dun Laoghaire 2018
  • Chelsea Reilly Sodaro (USA): winner IM70.3 Indian Wells 2018, 3rd IM70.3 Waco 2018, winner ITU Huatulco World Cup 2018, winner USA National ITU Champion 2017, 2nd Sarasota ITU World Cup
BMC Vifit Pro Triathlon Team
Will Clarke – Photo Credit: James Mitchell

The cooperation with Bart Aernouts, Liz Blatchford, Maurice Clavel and Ronnie Schildknecht will come to an end at the end of this season. Bob De Wolf adds: “Earlier in the year Liz Blatchford announced her plans to retire at the end of the season. Liz has had a phenomenal career that spans 18 years in professional triathlon. Bart (8 seasons), Liz (5 seasons), Ronnie (5 seasons) and Maurice (2 seasons) have played an instrumental part in what we have been able to achieve as a team over all those years. Bart was a member of the team since 2011 and was an integral part of the development of an ambitious Belgian team into one of the leading triathlon teams in the world. Bart, Liz, Ronnie and Maurice have all been fantastic to work with and we are very grateful for what they have done for the team. The team is immensely grateful for their contribution throughout those years, as top athletes and for the phenomenal results they achieved as members of our team”. 

Four new faces in the team

Pablo Dapena Gonzalez is one of the new faces in the team and will join the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team powered by Uplace from next season onwards. De Wolf adds: “We are incredibly proud and excited to work with such a line-up of talent next season. Pablo Gonzalez Dapena burst onto the scene in 2018 taking the World title at the ITU Long distance Triathlon World Championship and winning a number of the most prestigious half distance events of the season. Pablo is one of the most exciting talents on the long distance triathlon scene and we strongly believe in his potential.

Chelsea Reilly Sodaro is a former Team USA athlete running qualifying times for the Rio Olympics on the athletics track. Chelsea is brand new to long distance racing and put down her marker straight away by finishing on the podium at her first IM70.3 race in October and winning IM70.3 Indian Wells in dominating fashion last weekend. Chelsea spent the last two seasons on the ITU circuit, where she really demonstrated her talent earning her first World Cup win earlier this year. Sodaro has her sights set firmly on becoming a world class long distance triathlete.

Sarah Lewis had a real breakthrough year in 2018 winning Challenge Rome and Challenge Finland, finishing 2nd in IM70.3 Dubai and taking the silver medal at the European Long distance Championships. To finish off an outstanding season Sarah finished 2nd at the Middle East Championship IM70.3 in Bahrain less than a week ago.  There is a lot more to come from Sarah as she will make her move to the Ironman distance next season.

Manuel Küng has an impressive résumé over the 70.3 distance already and 2018 was an excellent year for the 31 year old Suisse. Küng claimed victory in IM70.3 Luxembourg and finished on the podium of another three half distance events this season.”

Pablo Gonzalez Dapena is really looking forward to the up and coming season: “Joining the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team is like a dream come true for me and a big step in my career. To be surrounded by a team of world class triathletes with great experience in competing at the most important triathlon races in the world, will be a great help for me. I am full of motivation and can’t wait for the season to begin. I hope to continue growing as an athlete and to continue increasing my level. I strongly believe that BMC-Vifit can play and instrumental part in that. I was very impressed by the entire organization of the team and their integrated way of working. The team offers incredible support from physio’s, doctors, team managers, mechanics, it makes me feel like a true professional triathlete and I am confident it will help me to perform better.  My goals for 2019 will be to compete in ITU Long Distance World Championship in my home city, in Pontevedra (Spain) at the beginning of May and defend my World title. Secondly I want to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Nice in France and measure myself with best athletes in the world over this distance”.

Pablo Dapena Gonzalez Fyn 2018

Also Sarah Lewis is excited about the season ahead: “I look forward to joining the BMC-Vifit team as they have a reputation for looking after athletes.  It will also be really nice to compete as part of a team that includes such high quality athletes. I look forward to utilize the expertise, insight and knowledge from BMC-Vifit team management, support staff, sponsors and more established team members in areas such as race nutrition and bike setup. The training camps will also be valuable, especially as they are in Lanzarote and Mallorca which work well for European based athletes. My goal for next year will be to podium and win major 70.3 races throughout the season and in 2019 I will also be looking to step up to the Ironman distance. I will therefore be aiming to qualify for Kona in one of my first races, setting myself up for a top 5 Kona campaign.”

Sarah Lewis

Chelsea Reilly Sodaro couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the team: “The BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team has a standard of excellence and I am thrilled to join the best triathlon team in the world so early in my career. This is truly a dream come true. In order to be the best, I need to surround myself with the best. My goal is to compete at the highest level in triathlon, and I believe that the BMC-Vifit Team will support me on my journey in doing just that. While I am new to the sport, I recognize that the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team will provide me with the best equipment and all of the resources that I need to reach my potential. The staff and support for our athletes is world class. I am also grateful for the opportunity to learn from my more established team mates during our training camps and throughout this season. My goal for the 2019 season is simple: I aim to compete for the win at the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice. I have a lot to learn between now and then, but I am confident that the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team, and my coach Matt Dixon of Purple Patch Fitness, will prepare me to be at my best on that day in September. Until the World Champs, I will be working to get stronger across all three disciplines and to gain more experience in this new format of racing”.

Manuel Küng adds: “It’s an honor to be noticed by the most professional team in our sport. To get the chance to be part of the BMC- Vifit Pro Triathlon Team really gets me pumped for 2019. As a triathlete I often train by myself. To be part of this team, to have official training camps together, to exchange experiences, to share a start line together and push each other to become even better, to have access to professional staff and of course get supplied with some of the very best race equipment on the market, really motivates me a lot. The team management and the athletes have years of experience in racing long distance triathlons all over the world. Together with the knowledge and support of the team I am confident to transfer my potential from the half distance also into long distance races. For season 2019 my aim is to win another IM70.3 and secure my qualification for the IM70.3 World Championship where I want to measure myself with the best.

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John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.


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