Familiar Super League Toulouse winners and a first for the XTERRA Worlds – Triathlete

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Last weekend now is your weekly commentary on what’s happening in professional triathlon, brought to you by Brad Culp. (Note from Ed: So yell at him if you don’t like the comments.)

The fourth and penultimate leg of the Super League series landed in Toulouse, France for the very first time, while the XTERRA World Championship left Hawaii for the first time, landing in Trentino, Italy.

Taylor-Brown and Wilde unstoppable in Toulouse

(Photo: Super League Triathlon)

Georgia Taylor-Brown and Taylor Spivey are set for an epic showdown in the Super League Final in Neom, Saudi Arabia in three weeks. They are tied at the top of the season standings after Taylor-Brown made it easy on a very fast field in the south of France. The Super League has had some pretty spectacular venues, but this may have been their most impressive. Taylor-Brown didn’t take the time to tour the terracotta-brick lined canals, however, as she came back strong to repeat as Super League champion.

This race was in the “triple mix” format, which might be my favorite because it’s weird but not too weird. The three races are ordered swim-bike-run, run-bike-swim, and bike-swim-run, with the final race using the chase start based on the gaps from the first two. The distances were 300m swim, 4K bike (I think) and 1K run, with 2K on the final run. So he leaned heavily towards the strongest runners, but the race(s) can be won or lost in the many transitions.

Taylor-Brown – whose races for the Scorpions I should mention – won stage one, while Spivey (a Rhino) was 21 seconds behind. It’s a lot in the Super League. Spivey managed to salvage eight of those seconds in race number two, but the 14-second gap was far too big to make up for the 2km run in the final race. Spivey managed to pass Britain’s Sophie Coldwell for second place, which was crucial to staying tied with Taylor-Brown in the series standings. Coldwell will have to fight for third place in the series with compatriot Beth Potter in the final in Saudi Arabia.

(Photo: Super League Triathlon)

Hayden Wilde will have no battle for the series crown, as he has a 17-point lead with one race to go. It’s an insurmountable amount in the Super League. It helps that Alex Yee only ran once. Wilde is the fearless leader of the Sharks, of which I am the fearful leader of the fan club. Our Sharks now have an 18-point lead over the Scorpions in the team standings, and I’m 90% sure we won’t be able to catch up.

Wilde is so committed to our team that he threw in an inflatable shark at the finish to remind all the other mascots that they are weak losers. In three weeks, we’ll be popping bottles of sparkling grape juice in Saudi Arabia. (Yes, that Saudi Arabia.)

Dorian Coninx continued his strong season by placing second in front of a supportive French crowd. Australian Matt Hauser moved up to fourth at the finish after a rocky start, meaning the streak isn’t entirely over for Wilde. A Hauser and Wilde DNF win would give the Aussie the title and probably cost my Sharks the tag team title. I’m not worried. Head down. Finished up.

RELATED: What is the Super League Triathlon? Your Guide to the 2022 Championship

A duo of French champions at the XTERRA Worlds in Italy

Solenne Billouin wins the XTERRA World Championship
(Photo: XTERRA)

In case you missed it, the XTERRA World Championship has left its traditional 25-year-old home in Maui and is going on a world tour for its world championships. The first stop was the Dolomites of northern Italy, on a course that was everything XTERRA should be: muddy, cold, wet and miserable.

Arthur Serrieres is a name you may not know and probably can’t pronounce, but he’s the new off-road world champion and he’s been one of the winningest triathletes in the world over the last three years. He only runs on dirt and he only wins. With a thriving off-road racing circuit in Europe, he is one of the few athletes who can make a decent living specializing solely in off-road triathlon. He won a check for 20,000 euros for his victory in Trentino. Not bad for a few hours of work in the mud.

At the finish, Serrieres dedicated the win to her mother, who is battling cancer and couldn’t make it to the race. He hasn’t raced much outside of Europe, but he was the heavy favorite heading into this event after winning the European Championship at the same course last year. He was third on the bike, but took the lead just a minute into the race and won by more than two minutes.

Arthur Forissier, also from France, finished second, ahead of three-time world champion Ruben Razafa from Spain. It was a big day for French Arthurs. Serrières is only the second Frenchman to win the XTERRA world title, after Nico Lebrun, who won in 2005 despite falling and breaking his wrist while running. Serrieres recognized Lebrun on the finish as part of what drew him to the off-road side of the sport.

France’s Solenne Billouin was the surprise winner of the women’s race, beating Italy’s Sandra Mairhofer by almost two minutes after more than three hours of racing. Billouin took the lead a few miles into the moto and then found herself on her own for the rest of the day, admitting she even surprised herself a bit at the finish. She hinted at possibly spending more time on her “athletic life,” so this is clearly a part-time job. That’s good pay for three hours of a part-time gig if you can get it.

This year’s XTERRA Elite Tour had 15 stops in some pretty incredible locations, and there are still two races to go in Sardinia, Italy and Tahiti. Previous stops include Greece, Portugal, Whistler, and the Czech and Dominican Republics. It’s a real world tour, and XTERRA’s ongoing commitment to professional racing and live media makes professional off-road racing possible for the most talented.

RELATED: What is XTERRA? Your guide to off-road triathlon

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