Yeray Luxem from Belgium and Brigitta Poor from Hungary captured the inaugural XTERRA Cyprus off-road triathlon, which turned into a duathlon, on Sunday, April 23, 2017.
It’s the second career XTERRA major win for Luxem, who won his first at XTERRA Poland last year, and the second win this season for Poor, the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champ, who also won the opener at XTERRA Malta earlier this month.
The weathermen were right. They called for high winds and big waves and that was what we were served for breakfast this morning. Why is it when you plan an outing because the weather is supposed to be good – it rains?
So, the first XTERRA Cyprus became a duathlon. Not only were the waves high and the shore chop brutal, but the undercurrents were super strong. The wave action was so severe there was no way we could keep our swimmers safe as navigating in white water was impossible. We had to change the run as well because the waves were pounding the white cliffs we originally came down through.
XTERRA European Tour director Nico Lebrun and the crew found a passage just down the beach that connected with a more inland path and that became the final kilometer of each lap of the run.
Regardless of all these chaotic challenges, race director Sgt. Ferguson called the troops to order and we started with only a few minutes delay. The run was one lap of our course and it was led by Belgium’s Yeray Luxem followed closely by Oivind Bjerkseth. Who, you say? This is a super young man from Norway whose sport is mountain biking. He watched XTERRA Maui live on the web and said, “That is for me.”
Norwegians are not noted for being swimmers and Oivind had his first open water swim just last November. You can see from the Malta results he had the 7th fastest bike and a swim that was 10 minutes slower than the winners. He was a very happy man to hear he would not have to face those ferocious waves today.
Francois Carloni had a good first run and took off quickly after Luxem. Today was not the Frenchman’s day, however, “I felt strong after the first run, got on my bike and went out quick but then my legs said no,” he explained. He did pass Oivind quickly on the bike but soon faded. Carloni only arrived the day before and while France is not a long way – the travel may have contributed to his lack of power.
Thomas Kerner was quickly in 4th followed by his German buddies Sebastian Neef, Hannes Wolpert and Stephan Radeck. Julien Buffe is a strong swimmer and as such, he was not happy about the duathlon, however, he came out swinging and rode an excellent race.
The best story of the day involves our winner, Yeray Luxem. At the pre-race briefing, one slide showed a herd of sheep grazing on one of the trails of the bike course. The director said quickly, “They will be gone on race day.” Luxem was riding hard trying to drop his chasers and had to slow to a crawl.
1 Yeray Luxem, BEL 2:32:14 75 00:17:14 01:36:11 00:37:56 2 Oivind Bjerkseth, NOR 2:35:15 67 00:17:18 01:36:30 00:40:09 3 Thomas Kerner, GER 2:42:04 61 00:17:20 01:45:18 00:38:36 4 Julien Buffe, FRA 2:44:16 56 00:18:40 01:45:04 00:39:46 5 Sebastian Neef, GER 2:45:10 51 00:23:37 01:40:19 00:40:24 6 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:46:08 47 00:17:32 01:43:28 00:44:15 7 Hannes Wolpert, BEL 2:46:22 43 00:18:26 01:44:54 00:42:10 8 Stephan Radeck, GER 2:47:46 39 00:18:11 01:48:32 00:40:10
For the women, Brigitta Poor was simply too strong today. It looked as if Morgane Riou would be a contender as she is not a swimmer but runs very quickly, however, Brigitta simply took off at the start and never looked back. Riou was riding well but suffered a flat that became hard to fix and lost considerable time. She kept at it and ran an equal final 10K to Poor but was far back because of the bike. Sweden’s Cecilia Jessen was alone in 3rd with our bubbly Brit Daz Parker a fine 4th outrunning Marika Wagner.
At the end of the first lap we could see two riders together in the lead. We thought it must be Carloni and Luxem but no; it was the upstart Norwegian Bjerkseth.