Mika Noodt surprises with men’s win at Challenge Gran Canaria, Perez Sala takes women’s race

Like so many other draft-legal specialists seem to be doing these days, Germany’s Mika Noodt has been dabbling in the half-distance world over the last year, and based on a track record that now includes two wins (today’s Challenge Mogan-Gran Canaria and Ironman 70.3 Les Sables D’Olonne) and a runner-up performance at Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote, it’s hard not to imagine that the 21-year-old might be looking very seriously at moving up to long-distance racing for good.

After coming out of the water a couple of seconds behind Switzerland’s Andrea Salvisberg and alongside three-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Brownlee, Noodt blasted to the front of the bike and led the way into transition. Hitting the run Noodt was in front with Salvisberg and France’s Clement Mignon close behind after Brownlee lost 20 seconds in the closing kilometres of the race. Brownlee managed to join the group at the front, but eventually the German proved too strong, pulling clear to take the win at 3:43:36. Mignon would take second at 3:45:01 with Salvisberg hanging on for third at 3:48:43.

“It was brutal!” said Noodt after the race. “The swim and bike were fine but on the run it was full gas, I never had more than 15 seconds gap and I was suffering! Once I was at the front I was pretty sure I could stay there. I’m super tired but over the moon, so happy! Now I can prove I’m not just a one race wonder!”

Brownlee finished in ninth.

“The lights went out after three hours,” he said. “I just had absolutely nothing coming off the bike. I was training really well, perhaps I got too dehydrated on the bike, I just couldn’t get enough water in. Congratulations to everyone. I wanted to finish to respect the race – the support was amazing, the whole event is great, but I wasn’t racing by the end!”

Photo: Activeimages

Perez Sala bounces back

After a terrible bike crash at Clash Miami while she was in the lead, Sara Perez Sala proved she was back, taking the women’s win in style. The Spaniard trailed Great Britain’s Lucy Buckingham out of the water by a couple of seconds, then took turns at the front with Buckingham on the bike. The two hit T2 together, but from there Perez Sala ran away with the win at 4:10:38. The Netherlands’ Els Visser ran her way to second (4:16:35) catching Buckingham, who was third in 4:16:55.

“I felt really good in the swim and the bike,” said Perez Sala. “Lucy and I took turns on the bike, but we realized as we were coming towards the end of the race we hadn’t really pushed it as much as we could so we stepped up the pace. On the run, I didn’t realise the gap was as big as it was, but I knew I was in first and I just kept pushing as I really wanted the win!”

Nicola Spirig, recovering from broken shoulder sustained in a crash in February, proved she is on track for the sub8 project in June with a fourth-place finish in 4:21:07.

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