Kristian Høgenhaug (DEN), the World Triathlon Long Distance Champion, clocked a half-marathon PB to run away with the victory at Challenge Salou 2022 on Sunday.
The race became a duathlon after a polar blast left water temperatures too cold and the Dane was to the fore from early on the bike.
But he was nearly half a minute behind starting what was to prove the decisive second run, first getting the better of long-time challengers Robert Kallin (SWE) and Ruben Zepuntke (GER) before holding off a host of fast finishers which included Roberto Sanchez (ESP) and Emil Holm (DEN), who cut through the field to join him on the podium.
It sets Høgenhaugup up perfectly for the upcoming IRONMAN World Championship in St George on May 7 and he said afterwards: “I didn’t consider myself as one of the favourites today. I know I’m very good at the long distance but I’ve struggled with this distance and it’s my first half in a year and a half.
“But I had a really good day. I had my best ever power output on the bike and then my fastest half marathon by over four minutes.
“I’m really happy with my form and fitness and it’s St George next – to be honest this was just a race to get rid of some rust so it’s promising for the World Championship.”
Run 1 – Sanchez and Holm lead
A cold front resulted in temperatures of just 4C under clear skies and 13C in the water and it saw the event switched to a duathlon for safety reasons.
That meant the swim was replaced with a 4km run loop and it was Sanchez who led at the end of the first run, but Holm who got out of T1 just in front – and that pair would prove to be two of the fastest finishers in the second run at the climax of the race.
It was closely packed behind though and all to play for.
Bike – Kallin makes his move
Given the close proximity at T1 it was no surprise to see a big group form early on the bike.
Høgenhaug briefly moved to the front but the first main move came from Kallin and that duo, along with Zepuntke started to put time between themselves and the rest.
As the three lead men finished the second lap there was a 55-second lead between them and the chase group, which was led by Roger Manyà.
By T2 Kallin had an advantage of nearly 30 seconds from Høgenhaug and another 11 seconds back to Zepuntke in third.
Run 2 – Høgenhaug comes through
It was on the first of four 5km loops that Høgenhaug moved to the front – and it was a lead he would never relinquish.
By the start of the fourth and final lap he was 26 seconds to the good over Zepuntke, but it was all change behind as Kallin dropped down the field while Sanchez (who was 11th at the start of the run), Holm and Thomas Steger were rapidly moving in the opposite direction.
It all led to a thrilling finale for the final two podium spots as Høgenhaug claimed the win in 3:24:07 by 43 seconds from Sanchez, who pipped Holm for second by six seconds.
Challenge Salou 2022 Results
Sunday April 3, 2022 – 4km run / 85km bike / 21km run
- 1. Kristian Høgenhaug (DEN) 3:24:07
- 2. Roberto Sanchez (ESP) 3:24:50
- 3. Emil Holm (DEN) 3:24:56
- 4. Thomas Steger (AUT) 3:25:03
- 5. Ruben Zepuntke (GER) 3:25:17