This morning Challenge Riccione is one big party for the over 1500 athletes who participate in the 2019 edition. A large number of spectators has gathered and you can feel the tension rising before the start of the pro triathletes. The weather conditions are better than expected and the swim takes place without any problems or changes to the route.
In the men’s race there are names such as Giulio Molinari, last year’s champion, the Austrian Thomas Steger, a strong runner, the German Federic Funk and Mattia Ceccarelli, who has had several good races this season. During the swim Ceccarelli sets the pace and exits T1 as first, 12″ ahead of the German Federic Funk. Molinari is third, 6″ behind Funk. At 27km, the three are cycling close together with Ceccarelli in the lead and Molinari and Funk following. The Austrian Thomas Steger is able to close some of the gap created during the swim and is fourth with 2’30”. At the halfway point of the bike leg, Ceccarelli and Molinari are in the lead, about 8″ ahead of the German Funk. 3 minutes behind Birngruber, Jordi Montraveta and Steger follow.
Molinari and Ceccarelli enter T2 together, ahead of the others. They start the run at a very high pace and are head to head until the 10th kilometer when Giulio Molinari suddenly falls back because of physical problems that force him to walk for some parts of the run. Frederic Funk moves into second position halfway through the race, followed closely by Thomas Steger. At the finish line a standing ovation awaits Ceccarelli, winner of this edition of Challenge Riccione. He is followed by Thomas Steger who has been able to get into second position, forcing Funk into third position.
In the women’s Elite race 12 athletes are at the start, all just as strong. Among the Italians there are Marge Santimaria and Elisabetta Curridori who will race against the Swiss Michelle and Nina Derron and Celine Schaerer, the Austrian Bianca Streurer and the German Svenja Thoes. Marge Santimaria has the fastest swim, followed by the Swiss Michelle and Nina Derron. Fourth and fifth in T1 are the Italians Michela Menegon and Elisabette Curridori. At 27km Santimaria is leading the bike, followed by Nina Derron. The Austrian Steurer is able to recover some positions and is third, even if she is 2′ behind the others.
Elisabetta Curridori keeps a high pace during these first km on the bike and slowly but surely reduces the gap with the others. At the halfway point of the bike leg Santimaria is still in the lead with Derron one and a half minute behind. Elisabetta Curridori, 2’20” behind, is now third, taking over Bianca Steurer. Curridori continues to make headway and enters T2 closely behind Margie Santimaria. The run, also among the women is lead by two athletes, both Italian. It is Curridori who reaches the finish line first, followed by Santimaria a minute later. The podium is completed by Bianca Steurer.