Super League Malta came to a close on Sunday after three days of intense racing, which saw Vincent Luis (FRA) hold onto his top spot in the SLT Championship series leaderboard at the season’s halfway point.
Day 1: The Equalizer Swim Time Trial
The action kicked off Friday with a Swim Individual Time Trial (SITT), considered the most testing of the three disciplines for the majority of triathletes. The finishing times determined the starting order for Sunday’s Equalizer stage two.
Thanks to his slot draw position, Ollie Turner (JER) was the first male athlete into the water and managed to hold off those behind him to take a fleeting lead setting 7:24. He was soon to be beaten into second by Luke Schofield (AUS) who set 7:20, but it wasn’t until later in the running order that the competition heated up.
Runner-up from Jersey and the pre-race favorite, Henri Schoeman (RSA) hit the water hard and kept the pace up throughout. He set an astounding 6:31 with Vincent Luis (FRA) following just behind at 6:42 (+:11). Jonas Schomburg (GER) rounded off the podium with a time of 6:46 (+:15).
Day 2: The Elimintaor
With just 24 hours to recover from the SITT, the athletes faced the Eliminator on Saturday, in which the pontoon placings were determined by Friday’s slot draw. The Eliminator is a test of strength, stamina, and speed where field position proves key over timing. It’s also a mental challenge, as the athletes knew that they needed to finish high enough to not be eliminated after Stages 1 and 2 while enduring three stages of the traditional swim-bike-run.
In Stage 1, young Hayden Wilde (NZL) took the victory followed home by Britain’s Jonny Brownlee. Unable to keep up with New Zealander’s fast start, Luke Schofield (AUS), Jayden Schofield (AUS), Ollie Turner (JER), Jack Felix (USA) and Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) all suffered the fate of the Eliminator and were cut.
After a punchy display of grit and tact, Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) took the victory in Stage 2 with Brownlee once again finishing second in the stage. Despite having won Stage 1, Wilde, apparently with nothing left in the tank, was eliminated, along with Andreas Schilling (DEN), Jonas Schomburg (GER), Matthew Sharpe (CAN) and João Pereira (POR).
With just 10 left on the course, Stage 3 was an action-packed battle of tenacity and entertainment. The speed continued to increase with numerous lead changes throughout. It was Murray who took the win—his first for five months—holding off SLT’s top-two leaders Schoeman and Luis.
Day 3: The Equalizer
This final race was a rapid swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run with no breaks and a staggered start using the time gaps established on Friday’s SITT. The field was spread across the course battling to make up time and working hard to get back on terms with the leaders.
As the men faced the Equalizer on the final day of racing, Murray knew that despite his victory in Saturday’s Eliminator, his SITT 15th position and 90-second gap from winner Schoeman meant he had his work cut out for him. Luis went into Stage 2 just 11 seconds behind the South African feeling he was in striking distance to claim the win.
As expected, Schoeman led out the swim with Luis hot on his toes. The Frenchman closed up the gap during the first bike and run, and Murray fought hard to make up time and avoid the cut. On the run, Luis and Schoeman repeated their head to head from the final day’s racing in Jersey. Never looking like he’d waver, it was Luis who broke free from Schoeman to take the tape and with it, the Championship Weekend.
The surprise of the weekend came from Mislawchuk and his outstanding performance. After winning Stage 2 of the Eliminator, the Canadian, who qualified from SLT Penticton, fought off one of the sport’s greatest, Brownlee, to claim the third and final podium position.