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Daniel Bækkegård back on top at Challenge Canberra as Els Visser wins women’s race

Daniel Baekkegard and Els Visser won at the inaugural edition of Challenge Canberra.

Staff Reporter
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Danish star Daniel Bækkegård put a difficult past few months behind him to win the inaugural Challenge Canberra, keeping a number of home favourites at bay in the Australian capital.

Dutch athlete Els Visser made it a European double with a fine win, as Britain’s Fenella Langridge pushed her all the way and ended up a close second for her third podium of the season.

Pro Men – Bækkegård puts sickness behind him

After a difficult time dealing with health issues since his last race in August, it was great to see Bækkegård back on the start line, with the Dane leading out of the water alongside Australians Kurt McDonald and Caleb Noble.

On to the bike, McDonald pushed hard early on to put the competition under pressure, but couldn’t shake Noble or Bækkegård, who despite a crash that very nearly cost him his race, managed to get back in contention by the second lap.

With a lap to go, the trio were back together, but Noble made a wrong turn at the end of the final loop, losing crucial time to McDonald and Bækkegård as the pair entered transition together.

Halfway through the run, having been side-by-side for the majority of the race, McDonald started to drop off the pace, as Bækkegård showed his experience and pulled away in the closing stages.

Winning by almost two minutes in the end after a great run, Bækkegård picked up his first win of the season and second podium, having finished third at Clash Miami way back in March.

Daniel Baekkegard Challenge Canberra 2023
Daniel Baekkegard takes the tape [Photo credit: Challenge Family]

In second, McDonald held on strong whilst Noble, who will be ruing the mistake on the bike that cost him dearly, finished in third and secured second place in the Challenge Family Pro World Bonus.

Pro Women – Visser snatches the win

In the women’s race, Britain’s Langridge led out of the water, with Visser more than three minutes down and leaving herself with a lot to do as the Dutch pro came into T1 in sixth.

Pushing the pace on the bike, Langridge couldn’t put time into Visser but managed to shake Australians Chloe Hartnett and Radka Kahlefeldt, who had been on her feet coming out of the water.

Riding strong and moving up into second by the 60km mark, Visser narrowed the gap down to +1:39 before furthering eating into Langridge’s lead over the latter parts of the bike, entering T2 just half a minute behind the early leader.

Setting up a thrilling battle on the run, Visser caught Langridge by the second lap of three and from then on the pair were inseparable, with the winner set to be decided in a tense sprint finish.

Prevailing in an exhilarating dash for the tape, Visser managed to just beat the Brit, with Langridge less than ten seconds behind after almost four and a half hours of racing. In third, Kahlefeldt rounded out the podium.

Els Visser Fenella Langridge Radka Kahlefeldt Challenge Canberra 2023
[Photo credit: Challenge Family]
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Challenge Canberra 2023 results

Pro Men

  • 1. Daniel Bækkegård (DEN) – 3:54:04
  • 2. Kurt McDonald (AUS) – 3:56:04
  • 3. Caleb Noble (AUS) – 3:58:28
  • 4. Jarrod Osborne (AUS) – 3:59:44
  • 5. Benjamin Hill (AUS) – 4:01:26

Pro Women

  • 1. Els Visser (NED) – 4:20:48
  • 2. Fenella Langridge (GBR) – 4:20:57
  • 3. Radka Kahlefeldt (AUS) – 4:26:58
  • 4. Penny Slater (AUS) – 4:31:14
  • 5. Chloe Hartnett (AUS) – 4:37:45
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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