Giulio Molinari of Italy and Anja Beranek of Germany took the elite titles at the Challenge Rimini half distance.
-- Giulio Molinari rides
In the Thursday press conference, Italian-American Davide Giardini offered defending Rimini champion Giulio Molinari what organizers called in translated English, “the glove of challenge,” heightening the pre-race anticipation of a triathletic battle.
In the waters of the Adriatic Sea slightly rippled by a breeze and animated by modest waves, Giardini emerged from the water a few seconds before the Spaniard Inaki Baldellou’s 23:05 clocking and Molinari’s creditable 23:07 split. Game on.
Molinari, perhaps inspired by Giardini’s challenge, tore off the front, achieving a 2 minutes lead on Giardini and Baldellou after 17 kilometers. However, matters did not remain static as Giardini fell out of contention and a pack of chasers pursued the Italian defending champion in this order – Baldellou, Jan Volar of the Czech Republic, Thomas Steger of Austria, Alessandro Degasperi of Italy, Marcus Wollner of Germany, Elliott Smales of Great Britain and Stefan Schmid of Germany.
Approaching the bike to run transition, Molinari finished the 90 kilometer adventure through local mountains with a race-best 2:20:34 pace and maintained a 5 minutes lead on pursuers led by Steger, then Degasperi, Smales and Schmid.
Afforded some relief by his comfortable lead, Molinari cruised home with an 9th-fastest but still adequate 1:16:48 run split that brought him home in 4:03:28 with a 3:49 margin of victory over Steger (1:14:36 run) and 4:42 over 3rd place Schmid who closed with a race-best 1:13:27 half marathon.
Molinari told Challenge Rimini media: “I am happy to be able to confirm here the last year's win. I especially love this race and the bike ride fits perfectly to my features. In the swimming section I had the opportunity to follow Davide Giardini who set a very high rhythm immediately. This made strongly affect the race in my favor.”
-- Marta Bernardi runs
Attracting most of the pre-race attention at the shore were Beranek, a top swimmer who finished 4th at Kona last October and Britisher Hannah Drewett. Drewett led the women’s swim wave to the finish at the hunting lodge, just ahead of the 26:22 splits of Beranek and Sonja Skevin of Croatia.
By 17 kilometers of the bike leg, Beranek opened a 90 seconds lead on Drewett and Nina Derron of Switzerland, and midway through the bike leg she held a 2:53 lead on Derron and just under 4 minutes on Marta Bernardi of Italy, followed by Judith Vaquera Corach of Spain.
At the end of the bike leg, Beranek’s women’s best 2:40:09 split was 3:27 better than Derron, 4:09 better than Yvonne Van Vlerken, 4:36 better than Bernardi, and 5:17 better than Corach. The chasers after Beranek starting the run were led by Derron, then Corach, then Benardi. Fourteen minutes later came Sara Dossena who then unleashed a ferociously fast 1:16:10 run which brought her to 3rd place at the finish, 5:12 off the winner.
Beranek closed with a women’s 3rd-fastest 1:24:30 run to finish in 4:34:50 which gave her a 4:35 margin of victory over runner-up Corach Vaquera. Derron ran 1:28:20 to take 4th place, 8:12 off the winner. Van Vlerken ran 1:25:56 to finish 5th in 4:43:33.
Challenge Rimini half
May 7, 2017
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Giulio Molinari (ITA) 4:03:28
2. Thomas Steger (AUT) 4:07:17
3. Stefan Schmid (GER) 4:08:10
4. Elliott Smales (GBR) 4:09:12
5. Inaki Baldellou (ESP) 4:09:42
12. Andi Böcherer (GER) 4:21:12
1. Anja Beranek (GER) 4:34:50
2. Judith Vaquera (ESP) 4:39:26
3. Sara Dossena (ITA) 4:40:02
4. Nina Derron (SUI) 4:43:03
5. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:43:33
11. Natascha Badmann (SUI) 4:47:17