Capping a successful 2017 season, Heather Wurtele won Challenge Forte Village Sardinia following her victory two weeks earlier at Challenge Peguera-Mallorca.
The Challenge race took place at the popular resort of Village Forte known for its beauty and spectacular white sand beaches, located on the island of Sardinia in Italy. The race course showcased a clear turquoise water swim, transition areas blanketed by flowering gardens, Mediterranean views on a bike course that climbs through the picturesque town of Domus De Maria, and finished with a spectacular coastal run course.
Starting off the race with a solid swim, Wurtele swam solo stating “There was a lot of sun glare and wave chop which broke things up pretty quickly but I sighted well and came out of the two-loop swim in 2nd place around 1min down from the lead.”
By 20km into the bike, Laura Siddall bridged the gap up to Wurtele and the powerful cycling duo rode together catching the leader by 40km and continued to increase their lead, trading positions with one another throughout the bike leg. The challenging terrain of the bike course was complicated by difficult conditions on the day as Wurtele described “We had a particularly windy day which made for a couple tense moments on some corners and descents, but I’m quite comfortable with my bike handling skills and ability to ride in those conditions so more than anything it was a positive thing in my mind.” Having experienced many race course destinations around the world, Wurtele added “I’d say Forte Village was definitely one of the most beautiful, and the most challenging bike courses we’ve ever raced on. Ironman 70.3 St. George on a windy day would rival it, but you’d need to add an amazingly untouched Mediterranean coast line.”
Entering T2 just behind Siddall, Wurtele pulled off a quick transition to lead out onto the run with Siddall right on her heels for the first 1.5 km’s. Putting in a strategic effort to break the elastic, Wurtele was able to separate herself stating, “I put a hard effort in and opened up a solid gap, which pretty much stayed the same from the 5km turn around until the end. She was always right around 1-min back and raced strong all day, so I couldn’t let up at all!” Wurtele clocked a race best run split to take home her 2nd win in as many weeks, finishing the half distance race in a winning time of 4:27:46.
Despite splitting time racing in Europe and North America, Wurtele was able to finish the year long Challenge series in 4th place overall collecting valuable points with her two recent wins. “I really love tough days and tough courses – good fair racing! Unfortunately for Laura the win would have put her into the lead of the overall series as well, so it meant a lot for both of us to take the top step at this one.”
The European racing scene was a notable change to the Wurtele’s typical race calendar. While Heather won the last two races, Trevor stood on the top step winning Challenge Geraardsbergen, took 2nd at Challenge Heilbronn and 5th place in a tightly faught battle at Challenge Village Forte. Reflecting upon the 2017 season Heather said “Trevor and I are both really happy we chose to come over to Europe and try something outside of our normal race routine in North America. Most of the courses we raced on over here were so much more interesting than a lot of the North American events. You fly through small villages, up climbs and down technical, fast descents. It was some of the most fun we’ve ever had racing our triathlon bikes. Same with running – some great courses going through pedestrian zones right in historic downtown centres. There seemed to be more of a general appreciation of endurance sport over here. People not upset with totally closed roads etc. Lots of support along the course. North America has a couple events like that, but really it just seemed to be more the norm over in Europe. Ultimately, we had a ton of fun and enjoyed seeing and training in various European countries. We were simply getting stuck in the “must get Ironman points” rut and weren’t fully enjoying the process of training and racing in that vein anymore so the change was really refreshing.”
Closing out the season with back to back wins, Wurtele said “I struggled a bit mid-season with my comeback from injury and few stupid mistakes in races, so I’m happy to have executed both of these two races well and end the year on a high note – especially earning a bonus in the overall series.”
“I’m super happy to get two wins in two weeks. It makes taking an off season a bit easier, and keeps the fire burning strong to get back at it in 2018.”
Challenge Forte Village Sardinia
Forte Village, Italy
29 October 2017
1. Heather Wurtele 4:27:46
2. Laura Siddall 4:28:36
3. Marta Bernardi 4:37:24
4. Yvonne van Vlerken 4:39:03
5. Judith Corachan Vaquera 4:42:08
6. Tine Deckers 4:42:32
7. Katrien Verstuyft 4:43:43
8. Simone Kumhofer 4:44:37
9. Simona Krivankova 4:45:14
10. Gabriella Zelinka 4:48:20