Youri Keulen claimed another impressive victory at Challenge Peguera-Mallorca on Saturday as Alistair Brownlee finished third in the latest race of his comeback.
Dutchman Keulen had got the better of a thrilling battle with Brownlee at Challenge Barcelona last weekend. But he was even more impressive here, taking the advantage early on the run and dominating from there.
France’s Mathis Margirier and Brownlee – on the way back after ankle surgery – completed the podium.
Imogen Simmonds followed in the footsteps of Keulen in the race for pro women to complete her own Barcelona/Mallorca Challenge double – following last weekend’s win in Catalonia with another comfortable success.
The Swiss star caught Lucy Buckingham (later a DNF on the run) in the closing stages of the bike leg and was peerless on the run as she scored easily.
Pro Men – Keulen completes quickfire double
Germany’s Willy Hirsch led a stellar field out of the water, just three seconds ahead of Brownlee. Newly-crowned IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Rico Bogen came next in third with Margirier and European Long Distance champion Menno Koolhaas in fourth and fifth. Bogen was quickest through T1 though and he led a tightly-packed field out onto the bike course.
Brownlee was quickly to the front of a lead group of three on the bike, accompanied by the German pair of Hirsch and Bogen. There was a gap then to the chasers, led by Margirier and Keulen, who had of course pipped Alistair to victory in Barcelona last weekend.
Soon enough that lead group of three became five as Margirier and Keulen bridged up, while that quintet were actually pulling clear of the next group, led by Frederic Funk. That front pack were sharing the work as they ensured that gap remained at over two minutes.
Bogen, Margirier and Brownlee all headed into T2 together, followed closely by Keulen and Hirsch and we were all set for another thrilling run following that epic in Barcelona last Sunday.
Keulen, who had only dropped Brownlee late in the day after a thrilling battle last weekend, made his move much earlier this time – building a 15-second lead over Margirier and Alistair by the time they reached the 4km mark. Hirsch was now 30 seconds back while newly-crowned 70.3 king Bogen was falling away surprisingly – almost a minute back.
Approaching the halfway point on the run and Keulen continued to pour it on, and it appeared that move might now be decisive. He led Margirier by 52 seconds with 10km completed, with Brownlee 1:14 down in third and Hirsch 1:21 away in fourth. Bogen’s challenge appeared to be well and truly over, almost five minutes off the pace.
Brownlee’s victory hopes had faded in a big way and his chances of a podium were also now under threat as he was passed by Hirsch for third as they went into the final run lap. He would soon reclaim that position but meanwhile Keulen was dominating up front with a lead of 1:58 over Margirier. Bogen meanwhile was a DNF on the run as a tough course took its toll.
The further they went, the more Keulen added to his lead and the impressive Dutchman took the tape in style. He was just under three minutes ahead of Margirier with Brownlee back in third.
Pro Women – Simmonds dominates again
Buckingham had chased home Simmonds at Challenge Barcelona last weekend, and the pair were expected to renew battle at the front here.
Lucy’s renowned swim prowess saw her come out the water first in 25:09, while Simmonds was almost a minute-and-a-half back as she clocked 26:31.
Onto the bike and Buckingham continued to hold a decent advantage, although that lead was diminished somewhat by a minor mechanical.
As they reached halfway on the bike Lucy had really worked hard and put her foot on the gas to re-establish that previous advantage, and more. She led Simmonds and Dane Sif Bendix Madsen by 2:10.
The pendulum swung again though as the chasers made up serious ground during the second half of the bike, and by the time they reached T2 it was Bendix Madsen leading Simmonds into transition with Lucy now a close third.
Simmonds now looked like the favourite to take the tape again after that win in Barcelona last weekend, and she started to build her lead. It was Buckingham though who for now looked safe in second as Bendix Madsen began to fall back.
After Bogen in the men’s race, the tough course claimed another casualty as the run progressed when Buckingham was a DNF due to illness. Bendix Madsen was now the closest pursuer to the dominant Simmonds with another Dane Laura Madsen now in third.
Simmonds continued to dominate and she came home in front for another impressive win in a highly impressive season. Laura Madsen claimed second – almost three minutes back – with Diede Diederiks pipping the fading Bendix Madsen for the final podium spot.
Challenge Peguera-Mallorca results
Saturday October 14, 2023
- 1. Youri Keulen (NED) – 3:41:12
- 2. Mathis Margirier (FRA) – 3:44:11
- 3. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 3:45:27
- 1. Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 4:21:10
- 2. Laura Madsen (DEN) – 4:23:51
- 3. Diede Diederiks (NED) – 4:24:20