Thomes Steger (AUT) defended his 2021 win, while Emma Pallant-Browne showed she was back to health and form, both using strong run legs to win Challenge Riccione.
British athletes would feature strongly all day, and it was India Lee who lead the way through the water, with odd-on race favourite, Emma Pallant-Browne, not too far behind.
Emma has won countless Challenge and IRONMAN middle distance races over the past six years, but will surely have had just a few nerves going into this race, following her distressing meltdown earlier this year on the run at CLASH Miami. No repeat of those furnace-like conditions today, but even so, some demons to extinguish under race conditions.
Onto the bike and for much of the day it appeared that an all British podium sweep was possible, as Pallant-Browne, Lee and Lucy Byram were all in close order.
That trend continued until T2. Few people in the sport can match Emma’s running prowess, but given that recent history, it did potentially open the door for Lee and Byram. Did they have a shot at top spot? Not today.
When the five laps were complete, Emma had built a significant winning margin of eight minutes. Behind, Byram was holding strong to secure a first Pro middle distance podium, but an all-British sweep was extinguished by Marta Bernardi (ITA), who would was India Lee for third place on the final lap.
Thomas Steger was first out of the water and first across the finish line in Riccione today – but was made to work pretty hard in between.
Steger lead in Florin Salvisberg (SUI), 2019 champion Mattia Ceccarelli (ITA) and Tom David (GBR) after the opening swim, with another Italian former champion, Giulio Molinari, not too far behind.
Everyone knows the run speed of Steger, and so Ceccarelli set about trying to get away on the bike. While he did gain an advantage of more than a minute, but the time T2 arrived, the Austrian fought was just meters behind him. The writing was on the wall.
Right from the start the Team Pewag athlete was away and clear. A little further back, the real battle appeared to be for the final podium slot.
Steger duly sealed the deal on the run to defend his title and Ceccarelli held strong for silver. Behind – despite having to serve a 30-second penalty (possibly a transition infringement?) – Florin Salvisburg completed the podium.
While he did just miss the podium, having referenced his prospects in the preview, it’s great to see Tom Davis back towards the pointy end of the racing, after some rough events over the past 12 months.
Challenge Riccione 2022 Results
Sunday 1 May 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21km
- 1. Thomas Steger (AUT) – 3:37:40
- 2. Mattia Ceccarelli (ITA) – 3:39:02
- 3. Florin Salvisberg (SUI) – 3:40:14
- 4. Thomas Davis (GBR) – 3:41:17
- 5. Chris Mintern (IRL) – 3:41:33
- 6. Marcel Boblat (GER) – 3:43:29
- 7. Marcus Herbst (GER) – 3:45:05
- 1. Emma Ballant-Browne (GBR) – 3:56:50
- 2. Lucy Byram (GBR – 4:-04:59 .)
- 3. Marta Bernardi (ITA) – 4:05:31
- 4. India Lee (GBR) – 4:06:49
- 5. Maja Betz (GER) – 4:09:29
- 6. Rachelle Botti (SUI) – 4:16:06
- 7. Rosie Weston (GBR) – 4:19:55