Antony Costes (FRA) and Diede Diederiks (NED) were the winners of the Skoda Challenge Geraardsbergen on Sunday.
The event features two ascents of the famed Le Muur climb on the bike leg, but it was on the run where Costes pounced past Pieter Heemeryck (BEL), winner of the previous two editions, to power to victory.
In the women’s race Diederiks took command on the bike and never looked in danger on the run, eventually crossing the line with a near five-minute advantage over Alexandra Tondeur (BEL).
Pro Men – Costes times it perfectly
Pamphiel Pareyn (BEL) was first out of the water in 22:39, but he and Heemeryck traded places early on the bike.
However Heemeryck asserted as the Le Muur, a 1km 7.8% average gradient climb on cobblestones, took its brutal toll and he appeared in control until the final few kilometres.
But the chase group, which included Milan Brons (NED), cut down his lead dramatically and Brons and Heemeryck were neck and neck at the start of the run.
Lurking in behind though was Costes, and he joined the two leaders on the first major hill and only Heemeryck was able to go with him.
That’s how it remained until the final 5km when Costes made what proved the decisive move, taking the win in 3:54:45 with Heemeryck finishing just behind in 3:55:58. Brons hung on for third, crossing the line in 3:57:42 – just five seconds ahead of Pareyn.
Brit Andy Horsfall-Turner was fifth after a welcome change of luck. Since turning pro he’s had races – and swims, which are a strong suit – cancelled as well as battling the after effects of COVID.
“From the start in the swim it was a hectic race, the pace was very high,” said race winner Costes.
“With the heat I knew there was going to be some trouble for some at the end of the race so I tried to save some energy but it was very difficult because the Muur, it was all out whatever you do just to get to the top!
“You don’t feel the effort during the climb as there is so much energy and screaming but afterwards, you struggle to recover! It was a nice battle with Pieter on the run and on the second uphill I managed to put in some time and keep the gas on to the finish. I really loved it!”
Pro Women – Cruise control for Diederiks
Margie Santimaria (ITA) took an early lead, exiting the water first and holding off challenges from Jenny Jendryschik (DEU) and Diederiks early in the bike.
But it was Diederiks who was in charge by the time they reached T2, 1:55 ahead of Jendryschick and she extended that advantage on the run, crossing the line in 4:27:53.
The focus behind was on the battle for second and literally no-one was finishing faster than Tondeur, who first overtook Santimaria and then overhauled Jendryschik.
“It was a really tough day,” said Diederiks. “And it seemed like sort of an XTERRA as there were some off-road parts in the run and of course the cobblestones on the Muur and a lot of climbing, so it was harder than I thought.
“But it was a great race. I chose this race as I’ve wanted to race here for three years and it’s great to win!”
Challenge Geraardsbergen 2022 results
Sunday 12 June 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Antony Costes (FRA) 3:54:45
- 2. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:55:58
- 3. Milan Brons (NED) 3:57:42
- 4. Pamphiel Pareyn (BEL) 3:57:47
- 5. Andrew Horsfall-Turner (GBR) 4:00:56
- 1. Diede Diederiks (NED) 4:27:53
- 2. Alexandra Tondeur (BEL) 4:32:33
- 3. Jenny Jendryschik (GER) 4:35:01
- 4. Nicole Falcaro (USA) 4:37:41
- 5. Margie Santimaria (ITA) 4:38:56