Sanders and Charles Champs at the Championship

Lionel Sanders won the mano-a-mano battle with Sebastian Kienle while Lucy Charles took a thrilling women's race that saw three lead changes in the last 1.7 km.

| June 3, 2017 | NEWS

Michael Raelert, Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle.

Michael Raelert, Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle.

Photo >Peter Jacob / spomedis

When it was announced in April, 2016, many in the triathlon community wondered if the Challenge Championship was really going to live up to its billing. Despite its venue at the one-of-a-kind X-Bionic Sphere, would the Challenge Family be able to draw a competitive pro field to an event in June in Slovakia?

Today we got the answer - a resounding yes - after a race that featured close battles on both the men's and women's sides.

Photo >Peter Jacob / spomedis

Lucy Charles is the real deal

Yes, we know you’ve heard that from us here at TriathlonWorld.com before, but if you thought we were maybe being a bit ambitious about the 24-year-old former national team swimmer from the UK, how’s this for a two-week block: a win at Ironman Lanzarote, followed a few days later by a 10 km running PB and then, two weeks after her big day in the Canary Islands, she runs her way to the Championship title.

As usual, Charles led the way out of the water, only to be quickly passed on the bike course by Australian Annabel Luxford, who only trailed by 24 seconds after the swim. Luxford would eventually be passed by Kimberly Morrison (GBR) on the bike course, but still had a solid ride to enter T2 about a minute down. Another minute back was Heather Wurtele (CAN), who seemed to be the woman best positioned to take the inaugural Championship race.

Luxford quickly dealt with Morrison, but by about halfway into the run Wurtele had moved in front and seemed on track to add to her impressive resume that includes more than 20 half-distance titles. The wheels started to come off, though, with about 5 km to go as Wurtele seemed to be feeling the effects of the lack of run training she’d had to endure getting over a calf injury.

With 1.7 km to go Luxford passed Wurtele. The only issue for both, though, was a fast-charging Charles, who had given up a bit of time on the bike, but had remained in the hunt and was in the midst of an amazing run that saw her pass Luxford over the closing stages of the run and take the Championship title by 34 seconds. Wurtele would hang on for third, while half-distance newbie Rachel Klamer (NED) would run herself into fourth. Aussie Ellie Salthouse rounded out the top five.

Sanders suffers to another win over Sebastian

“I conceded the race about five times to Sebastian,” Lionel Sanders (CAN) said at the press conference after the race after his shoulder to shoulder battle with Germany’s Sebastian Kienle. The race had been pegged as a revenge match for Sanders, who, along with Kienle, had been soundly beaten by two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee (GBR) at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship last month.

Brownlee had trailed training partner and local hero Richard Varga (SVK) out of the water, but quickly moved to the front of the race. He had some company, though, in the form of two-time 70.3 world champ Michael Raelert for much of the first half of the pancake-flat ride. As Brownlee started to open a gap on the German after the turnaround, Raelert got to experience the Sanders/ Kienle express at the 65 km point of the race, where the two went by him “like two motorcycles.”

The two weren’t able to catch Brownlee, though, who pushed over the final part of the ride to lead into T2 by 40 seconds, but never looked his normal unstoppable self as he struggled out onto the run course. Within 1.5 km the Sanders/ Kienle express was in front and ready to put on a great show. The two alternately seemed to surge away from one another, only to have the other claw back the gap, for 16 km. Then Sanders felt “the elastic stretch” and made a move that got him clear of Kienle. The Canadian hung tough for the final 5 km of the run to take the inaugural Championship title. Kienle led a German two-three-four sweep, finishing ahead of Raelert (third) and Andreas Dreitz (fourth). Rounding out the top five was half-distance rookie, Richard Murray (RSA).

Challenge Championship | Men

June 3, 2017 | Samorin, Slovakia

Name

Country

Overall

1.9 km Swim

90 km Bike

21.1 km Run

1

Lionel Sanders

CAN

3:40:04

24:47

1:56:04

1:14:22

2

Sebastian Kienle

GER

3:41:46

24:46

1:56:09

1:16:07

3

Michael Raelert

GER

3:45:35

22:48

2:00:15

1:18:00

4

Andreas Dreitz

GER

3:47:18

23:00

2:00:01

1:18:55

5

Richard Murray

RSA

3:50:22

22:51

2:05:59

1:15:50

6

Pieter Heemeryck

NED

3:52:18

23:00

2:05:40

1:18:46

7

Boris Stein

GER

3:54:22

24:51

2:04:03

1:20:14

8

Julian Mutterer

GER

3:55:30

23:01

2:07:09

1:20:08

9

Trevor Wurtele

CAN

3:56:36

24:41

2:07:13

1:19:35

10

Mark Buckingham

GBR

3:58:07

22:54

2:09:50

1:20:04

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Challenge Championship | Women

June 3, 2017 | Samorin, Slovakia

Name

Country

Total

1.9 km Swim

90 km Bike

21.1 km Run

1

Lucy Charles

GBR

4:13:59

23:25

2:19:29

1:25:09

2

Annabel Luxford

AUS

4:14:33

23:50

2:15:57

1:29:30

3

Heather Wurtele

CAN

4:15:37

26:02

2:14:46

1:29:15

4

Rachel Kramer

NED

4:17:19

24:54

2:23:15

1:23:28

5

Ellie Salthouse

AUS

4:20:49

24:51

2:20:45

1:29:05

6

Kimberley Morrison

GBR

4:22:30

26:23

2:12:09

1:37:59

7

Anja Beranek

GER

4:23:51

26:22

2:16:56

1:34:48

8

Corina Hengartner

SUI

4:25:07

28:58

2:20:37

1:29:37

9

Corachan Vaquera

ESP

4:26:02

26:01

2:23:38

1:30:35

10

Radka Vodickova

CZE

4:26:49

25:04

2:23:10

1:33:00

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