World-class athletes preparing for inaugural Challenge Samarkand

Sebastian Kienle prepares for Challenge Samarkand (Picture: Triathlon Today)

A small but quality international pro field is making its way to arguably the most exciting new triathlon destination this weekend for the inaugural Challenge Samarkand in Uzbekistan. The likes of Sebastian Kienle (GER), Frederick Funk (GER), Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR) and Ellie Salthouse (AUS) will join close to 1,000 age group athletes as they race through the centuries on the ancient Old Silk Road.

Joining Kienle and Funk in the men’s field is Aaron Royle (AUS), runner up in this year’s The Championship. The PTO top-ranked swimmer, he will relish the 1.9km in one of the largest purpose-built rowing canals in the world at the centre of the Silk Road Complex. Also lining up is Filipe Azevedo (POR) who already has two podiums to his name this year and will looking to gain a third. Funk and Kienle will have little time to admire the ancient architecture and iconic landmarks as the two German uber bikers battle it out on the undulating course. Funk comes off the back of four podiums this year, including a win at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee, third place at The Championship and runner up at the recent 70.3 world championships. Meanwhile Kienle has been enjoying his retirement year of bucket list races, kicking off with a third at Challenge Wanaka and will be aiming for a top finish in Uzbekistan.

In the women’s field, Pallant-Browne has a had a stellar 2023 season, with two wins and two further podiums to her name and will be looking to add another gold to her resumé. Her main competition is in the form of Ellie Salthouse (AUS) who took out two wins early in the year in her homeland of Australia and Margie Santimaria (ITA) who earned a win at Challenge Geraardsbergen in June.