Lionel Sanders win the inaugural Challenge Family TheChampionship. (TriathlonMagazine.ca)

Lionel Sanders (CAN) and Lucy Charles (GBR) have been crowned the winners of the inaugural THECHAMPIONSHIP 2017, with both athletes claiming their share of the 150,000 Euro prize pot.

More than 900 competitors from 57 nations lined up alongside the Danube River – in the shadow of the incredible x-bionic® sphere for the start of the inaugural Championship featuring a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21km run. Conditions were favourable with light winds and a temperature of 20 – 28 degrees celsius.

A mixed field of short and long distance star triathletes Alistair Brownlee (GBR), Richard Murray (RSA), World Champion Sebastian Kienle (GER) and European Champion Andreas Dreitz (GER) provided the fireworks against local Slovakian star Richard Varga who exited the swim first.

During the bike leg, German Michael Raelert overtook both Varga and Brownlee to take an early bike lead. Lionel Sanders (CAN) and Kienle continued to close the gap throughout the bike leg. On the run, the battle for the win switched constantly between the World Champion Kienle and Sanders, who both overtook double Olympic Champion Brownlee, who later had to retire from the race. After a dramatic breakaway at 16km, however, it was Sanders who took the win with a time of 03:40:04.

“That was by far the hardest I have ever suffered after battling Sebastian on the run. Kudos to CHALLENGEFAMILY for introducing the 20 metre draft rule, I absolutely think that all races should implement the 20 metre draft rule as standard for fair racing.” said Sanders.

 

Lucy Charles wins the Challenge Family Championships, flanked by Annabel Luxford and
Ellie Salthouse. (Xbionicsphere.com)

Three-time world champion Heather Wurtele (CAN), Challenge Melbourne champion 2017 Annabel Luxford (AUS) and Radka Kahlefeldt (CZE), Emma Pallant and Lucy Charles led the challenge in for women professional’s with their list of accolades in recent Challenge races.

Winner of Challenge Lisboa, Charles took an early lead in the swim exiting first, with Luxford and Brit Kimberly Morrison taking over on the bike route. Within the first 5km of the run, Wurtele had climbed up to second place to continue to reduce the gap between herself and Luxford, with Charles emerging on both their tails. Charles had a spectacular race and in the last kilometre stole the lead crossing the finish line in an impressive 04.14.32.

Commenting on her win, Charles said:

“I can’t believe it. I could see that I was closing the gap on the run, but I didn’t expect to claw in the race win. Epic course, epic race and I really am over the moon. I think the 20m draft rule is great, and certainly works in my favour.”

Read more on ChallengeFamily.com