Billed as one of the toughest triathlons, the Alpe D’Huez race covers a total distance of 139.2 kms, the Alpe D’Huez course was recently tackled by a group of five Maltese Triathletes - Ruben Degiorgio, Cliff Sultana, Peter Zammit, Caroline Zammit and Elizabeth Grima.
Starting off with a 2.2km swim in Lac du Verney, accessible to swimmers only during the Triathlon, a 115km bike leg with two mountain passes on the programme – the Alpe du Grand Serre (1375 m) and the Col d'Ornon (1371 m) – as well as the climb of the 21 hairpin bends of the climb to Alpe d'Huez, which has earned its well-deserved fame in the Tour de France, which includes it almost every year, and a 22km run on top of the Alpe d'Huez with a further elevation gain of 600mtrs.
Weather conditions were fine, if a bit chilly, especially for the swim (13 degrees). Cliff Sultana emerged first Maltese out of the water but had to retire during the last part of the bike leg due to severe food poisoning, as did Elizabeth Grima. Ruben Degiorgo had an excellent bike leg and managed to complete the challenge in 8.38 hours. Caroline Zammit came in at 9.49 hours, and Peter Zammit in 10.06 hours.
All athletes commented that this triathlon tests not only the physical but also the mental limits to the max, as the tough mountain climbs ,challenging the downhill’s and the hilly run , at a considerable altitude are not easy to train for here in Malta. Race organization was brilliant with numerous feed stations throughout bike and run sections. roads were open for traffic but the Maltese athletes were quite impressed by the excellent traffic management and the courteous driving of the locals.
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