There is more than enough for triathlon fans to enjoy in the coming weeks, because with Challenge Barcelona, Challenge Vieux Bouceau and Challenge Peguera-Mallorca, three races are scheduled in which almost insanely strong fields of participants will take part. On the Spanish island of Mallorca next week – on October 14 – a race that may be unprecedented.
Even though Challenge Peguera-Mallorca is found every year not only by many, but also by especially very good professional athletes, this year there is a starting field at the start like we have never seen before. First of all, two world champions are competing against each other: Alistair Brownlee and Rico Bogen are seen as perhaps the two biggest favorites for victory, and with the two of them alone they almost guarantee a race of the highest level.
But there is more, much more even. Frederic Funk, for example: the German, who is having a more than impressive season, specializes fully in the Middle Distance and recently won Challenge Samarkand, among other races, will certainly have a shot at victory. The same, of course, goes for Jonathan Wayaffe: the Belgian may not be the biggest favorite, but is the defending champion and knows exactly what it takes to win a tough race like Challenge Peguera-Mallorca.
Dutchman Youri Keulen, perhaps the most successful Middle Distance athlete from the Netherlands, has every interest in also having a shot at victory. Last year, Keulen experienced his real serious breakthrough and numerous top finishes followed. Two weeks ago, Keulen experienced bad luck during Challenge Sanremo and he will want to forget that bad luck by running to a top performance in Mallorca. Keulen will be joined by compatriot Menno Koolhaas: on paper Koolhaas may be a slightly weaker athlete in the Middle Distance, but on the other hand Koolhaas crowned himself European Long Distance Champion at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam three weeks ago. There he finished in a time of 7:36, the eighth fastest time ever recorded at a Long Distance. So it seems clear that Koolhaas is not only strong, but also lightning fast.
As if it were not enough, Mathis Margirier, Ruben Zepuntke, Simon Viain, Pablo Gonzalez Dapena and William Mennesson are also at the start, all of whom are seen as contenders for victory or at least a podium finish. In addition, there are dozens of other outsiders at the start in the men’s race.
In the women’s race is a slightly narrower, but at least as impressive starting field getting ready for Challenge Peguera-Mallorca. Biggest favorite is defending champion Imogen Simmonds. The Swiss won last year’s race on the Spanish island in convincing fashion and will be fully focused to prolong that title this year. Lucy Buckingham seems to be the biggest competitor in that regard; the British rider is actually always strong at Challenge Family races, regularly finishes on the podium and will also ask the utmost of herself next week to resist Simmonds, and all the other women.
Italy’s Margie Santimaria can be counted among the dangerous outsiders. The same is true for Diede Diederiks; the Dutch triathlete has not been competing at the highest level for very long, but has already achieved an awful lot of success over the past two years, including victory at Challenge Geraardsbergen and second place at ANFI Challenge Gran-Canaria. Diederiks can handle both flat courses and climbs, so Challenge Peguera-Mallorca seems like it was made for her.
Challenge Peguera-Mallorca will take place on Saturday, October 14.