Britain’s Stephen Bayliss and Amy Marsh (USA) took out the inaugural Challenge Vichy this past weekend and in doing so conquered one of the toughest races in Challenge history.
Temperatures in the French spa town rose to 43°C with high humidity, and athletes faced strong head winds on the bike.
Bayliss took victory just one week after placing eighth in Challenge Copenhagen. He exited the swim just four seconds behind Raoul Shaw (FRA) in 50:21mins, and a quick transition saw him head out on to the hot and windy bike course in the lead a position he maintained after 180km with a split of 4:36:28.
Meanwhile further back in the field, Challenge Wanaka champion Jamie Whyte (NZL) and Teemu Lemmettylä (FIN) were making up for disappointing swim times. Whyte exited the water in 13th while Lemmettylä was in 19th. By the end of the cycle, they had moved up to fifth and sixth, respectively.
By the 10km mark on the run, Bayliss had dropped to third with Whyte and Lemmettylä hanging onto their positions in fifth and sixth with Damien Favre-Felix (FRA) taking the lead.
The halfway point saw another change in position following the withdrawal for Favre-Felix. Fellow countryman Benjamin Pernet moved up into pole position with Bayliss in second and Whyte in third.
With 10km to go, Bayliss had secured his lead at the head of the field, a position he held onto, crossing the finish line in 8:45:29.
Lemmettylä ran into second with the fastest run split of the day, 3:06:33, while Whyte finished in third.
The women’s race saw Amy Marsh lead from the swim, exiting the water in 55:23 a clear three minutes ahead of Juliette Benedicto (FRA).
By the end of the bike, she had extended her lead to just over 10 minutes and continued to build her lead over Benedicto throughout the run, finishing in 9:44:56. Benedicto maintained her second position throughout the race to finish in 10:01:59 while Jana Candrova (CZE) took third in 10:12:14.
For further information, visit www.challengevichy.com