TRI247
Search
shop

Blummenfelt heads all-star SLT cast bidding to take down Bahrain ‘Galacticos’

Blummenfelt, Bergere, Hauser and Lombardi just some of the star names announced.

News Director
Last updated -
SHOP

The reigning Olympic and world champions will join forces with last year’s Championship Series runner-up in a star-studded Santara Tech Eagles team as Super League looks set for a battle of the Galacticos in 2023.

Tim Don’s Eagles saw their title taken by a power-packed Bahrain Victorious Scorpions last year but, backed this season by Santara Tech which is the company co-owned by stars of the sport Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, it’s clear they mean business.

Norway’s Blummenfelt, who has much more of a focus on short-course racing as he looks to defend his Olympic title in Paris next year, always looked likely to join the Eagles but current WTCS champion Léo Bergere, who took an individual silver and a Mixed Relay gold with France at WTCS Sunderland over the weekend, adds further firepower.

As does Aussie Matt Hauser who went so close to the overall SLT title in 2022 despite an incredible run of bad luck – and he goes into the series full of confidence after notching his first WTCS victory in Montreal in June.

On the women’s side they are headed by rising French star Emma Lombardi, who already has three WTCS silver medals to her name.

And intriguingly they have also brought in 15-year-old Hungarian Fanni Szalai who made such an impact at the Arena Games and has carried all before her at junior level this year.

Advertisement

Paving the way

And Don admits he’s relishing a battle with Chris McCormack’s Scorpions.

Macca won’t announce his line-up until Thursday but with the likes of SLT champion Hayden Wilde, Cassandre Beaugrand, Vincent Luis and Henri Schoeman all Bahrain Victorious athletes, it promises to be super-strong again.

Don told TRI247: “Everyone was at a bit of a disadvantage with Bahrain Victorious having such a strong team last year due to contractual commitments, but fair play because they were the first franchise in Super League history so they’ve actually helped created the franchises for this year.

“As much as I’m gutted that they had such a strong team, in the long run, I think what Macca was doing was brilliant.

But definitely, yeah, we’re in it to win it and I think we’ve got a balanced team – a strong team with experience, but we’ve also got lots of youth, and I really like that side of it.

“We could have some younger athletes really stepping and hopefully they can learn from the likes of the current Olympic champion and current world champion.”

‘Big Blu’ vs Bahrain

Don put his faith in Hauser as his ‘GC’ contender last year and was richly rewarded despite more than his share of bad luck. And he said of the Aussie: “He’s a real racer and that short distance, that’s his forte, the super sprint and sprint distance.

“Obviously last year was a bit of a breakthrough one for him and I think he’s gone away and had a great winter. He’s won a WTCS this season which is no mean feat.”

And on the intriguing prospect of Blummenfelt tackling a Bahrain team that he was part of until this season, Don adds: “He’s definitely gaining race sharpness this season. He’s honing in on the short course. I think in Hamburg [when fourth], he surprised a few people. I mean, let’s be honest, he beat Matt there.

“Kristian definitely wants to get after it, and not just for himself, but Santara Tech too – and to show Bahrain that we are a force to be reckoned with, as do I and the rest of the athletes.”

Santara Eagles team graphic Super League 2023
[Image credit: Super League]

Lombardi ‘gets the dynamics’

And on the women’s side we asked Don about Lombardi, who has made a big impression in a short space of time but will be making her Super League debut.

The Olympic distance is her forte but as she showed again in Sunderland when runner-up to compatriot Beaugrand over the Sprint distance, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

He told us: “She cut her teeth on the French Grand Prix circuit so she gets the dynamics and the style of racing. She knows she needs to be up the front, she knows she needs to be nailing those transitions and she’s flawless at that. So I’m really excited to have her.

“And she’s so young. She’s won major championships as an under-23 athlete and this for her is just going to be another step, racing all the top senior women, kind of like three races in a row. So, yeah, I think she’s going to be a great asset to the team and I think personally, for her, she can take a lot away from the race series.”

And there’s never been anyone younger in Super League than the exciting Szalai, but Don cautions that it’s very much a learning experience and she will be looked after throughout.

“I hope we’re not even in chapter one [of her career] yet. I hope we really see her develop to Los Angeles 2028 and beyond. I’m in contact with her dad a lot more than I am with her. And her father and mother are coming to every race. Not both of them, either one of them or both of them. They’ve had to take time off work to do that.

“And I really want some of the senior athletes, the more experienced athletes in our team, to really kind of take her under their wing. And I just want her to enjoy herself. There’s absolutely no expectation from us in terms of results. I really want her to perform to the best of her ability.”

Men: Kristian Blummenfelt, Matt Hauser, Léo Bergere, Kenji Nener, Adrien Briffod, Emil Holm.

Women: Emma Lombardi, Jeanne Lehair, Fanni Szalai, Miriam Casillas Garcia, Ekaterina Shabalina.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

THE SBRX Show

In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more
Discover more
Anne Haug wins IRONMAN Lanzarote 2024
Anne Haug bounces back with SENSATIONAL season opener at IRONMAN Lanzarote
Jenny Lucas-Hill wearing the Sumarpo vanguard triathlon wetsuit
Sumarpo Vanguard triathlon and swimming wetsuit review – Can it challenge the mainstream tri wetsuit brands?
sea swimming sumarpo triathlon wetsuit
How to get faster at open water swimming – triathlon swim training tips to up your race pace
Challenge St. Pölten 2023 - Photo Credit José Luis Hourcade
Best middle distance triathlon bike courses – from the fastest courses to the most epic scenery
Challenge St. Pölten 2023 - Photo Credit José Luis Hourcade
Five reasons to race Challenge St. Pölten – kickstart your race season with this scenic middle distance triathlon
latest News
Georgia Taylor-Brown WTCS Yokohama 2023 finish
WTCS Cagliari: Full women’s start list as Georgia Taylor-Brown chases third successive victory
Alex Yee swim WTCS Cagliari 2022
WTCS Cagliari: Full men’s start list as Alex Yee and Hayden Wilde go head-to-head
American Skye Moench takes the tape at IRONMAN Florida 2023
American Ironman record holder makes pregnancy announcement
WTCS Cagliari 2023 podium - Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde, Leo Bergere
WTCS Cagliari: Start time, preview and how to watch live
PTO European Open 2023 Ibiza - Max Neumann
Former PTO Tour winner targeting triathlon comeback at London T100 after injury spell
triathlon on your terms
Never miss out with our triathlon alerts & digest. Get a dose of adventure & inspiration with Boundless.
Invalid email address
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

SBRX
RUN247
Share to...