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Duffy, Wilde take Xterra World titles

Rough surf forces swim portion of triathlon to be cut

Men’s winner Hayden Wilde of New Zealand nears the finish line Sunday during the Xterra World Championship at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

KAPALUA — Changes and delays have become normal lately for athletic competitions across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was mother nature this time around that made the Xterra World Championship off-road triathlon unlike previous years.

For the first time in the event’s 25-year history on Maui, the one-mile open-ocean swim portion was canceled due to high surf and dangerous conditions at D.T. Fleming Beach, converting the course to a duathlon on Sunday.

Still, Hayden Wilde of New Zealand and Flora Duffy of Bermuda were crowned the men’s and women’s champions, respectively, for conquering a course that instead started with a 3-kilometer run on the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua property before heading out on the usual 20-mile mountain bike ride and 6.5-mile muddy trail run.

“Making it a duathlon completely changes the race,” Duffy said after winning her sixth Xterra World Championship title– the most for any triathlete, male or female. “For me, I’m usually the strongest swimmer in the race, so I typically come out of the water with maybe about five minutes on the second female and so, mentally that’s a really nice gap, whereas in the duathlon, I think it was about 20 seconds.”

After the Xterra was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Duffy finally returned to Maui to finish the race with a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, 49 seconds on Sunday, placing her 18th overall.

Flora Duffy of Bermuda crosses the finish line to win her sixth women’s title Sunday at Kapalua.

The second female elite finisher was Loanne Duvoisin of Switzerland (2:46:56), and Michelle Flipo of Mexico was third in 2:50:17.

While Duffy has multiple world titles under her belt, this was Wilde’s first Xterra World Championship as an elite.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wilde said after winning with a time of 2:18:39. “I’ve always wanted to win this one.”

For Wilde, the Xterra is what sparked his triathlon career not too long ago. He has made tremendous progress since.

After winning the U19 division titles back in 2015 and 2016, the 24-year-old returned to the brutal and unpredictable Xterra course to claim his first-ever world championship crown as an elite, calling the experience “a dream come true.”

Women’s runner-up Loanne Duvoisin of Switzerland leads third-place finisher Michelle Flipo of Mexico on the bike course Sunday.

Coming fresh off a bronze-medal performance at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Wilde said that winning on Sunday was still a challenge in Kapalua’s rainy conditions and in a stellar field of triathletes.

He had to hold off 2019 Xterra runner-up Arthur Serrieres of France and two-time champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain, who were on his heels for the majority of the race.

Serrieres placed second with a time of 2:19:02 and Ruzafa finished third in 2:19:33.

“It was tough out there,” Wilde said. “As soon as it started raining, I think I struggled a bit with the bike– those guys caught up, those guys were flying, and um, we were pretty stoked to make it out in the end.”

Wilde grabbed a 20-second lead during the opening run, but the slippery bike trail is where Serrieres, Ruzafa and American Seth Rider caught back up and stayed within seconds of one another.

Women’s champion Flora Duffy takes a drink of water as she passes through a tunnel.

The harsh rain held out just long enough for most of the elite race, though a light drizzle hit the course midway through the two-lap mountain bike leg.

The 6.5-mile hilly trail run determined the men’s final placements. Wilde was third out of the transition zone but quickly caught back up to Serrieres and Ruzafa, who both stayed within a few paces.

Maintaining an average 6:10 mile pace, Wilde gutted out the final sandy stretch of the race before reaching the grassy finishing chute, saying that “it took a lot of might” to hold them off for the win.

Meanwhile, Duffy led the women’s field from the get-go and gapped ITU Cross Tri World champion Duvoisin by over a minute by the time she completed the first 10K loop of the bike leg, where she averaged ​​11.94 mph.

After racking her bicycle, Duffy kept a strong lead to victory once again.

Due to its broken seat, Brian Summers of Sandy, Utah, pushes his bike on the bike course. He finished 24th out of 24 pros in the men’s division.

“It’s kind of unbelievable to think I’ve won this race six times, but yeah it’s fantastic,” said Duffy, who added the win to her already golden 2021 — she won Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. “It’s been a really long season, so yes, I’m very happy to win, but I think I’m just happy the season is over and I got to end it on a really high note and being on Maui, it’s just a beautiful place to be.”

* Dakota Grossman is at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

Xterra World Championship

Sunday’s Results • At Kapalua

(Note: Full results to be published later this week in The Maui News)

Men’s runner-up Arthur Serrieres leads third-place finisher Ruben Ruzafa on the trail run course.

Pro men–1. Hayden Wilde 2:18:39, 2. Arthur Serrieres 2:19:02, 3. Ruben Ruzafa Cueto 2:19:33, 4. Seth Rider 2:20:43, 5. Sebastien Carabin 2:20:53, 6. Josiah Middaugh 2:21:26, 7. Maxim Chané 2:24:16, 8. Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen 2:24:58, 9. Francisco Serrano 2:28:04, 10. Xavier Dafflon 2:28:27, 11. Geert Lauryssen 2:33:22, 12. Karel Dušek 2:33:58, 13. Rom Akerson 2:37:07, 14. Samuel Jud 2:37:40, 15. Brice Daubord 2:38:00, 16. Branden Rakita 2:46:06, 17. Darr Smith 2:49:36, 18. Austin Hindman 3:01:13, 19. Taylor Charlton 3:01:50, 20. Jimmy Sosinski 3:04:12, 21. Florian Bogge 3:20:13, 22. Edward Oingerang 3:27:05, 23. Hans Ryham 3:32:33, 24. Brian Summers 4:18:27.

Pro women–1. Flora Duffy 2:39:49, 2. Loanne Duvoisin 2:46:56, 3. Michelle Flipo 2:50:17, 4. Eleonora Peroncini 2:56:09, 5. Suzie Snyder 3:02:01, 6. Alizée Paties 3:02:55, 7. Carina Wasle 3:05:02, 8. Amanda Felder 3:07:54, 9. Katie Button 3:11:29, 10. Melanie McQuaid 3:17:21, 11. Chelsea Raymond 3:31:13, 12. Irena Ossola 3:33:45, 13. Brandi Swicegood 3:42:26.

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