Challenge Riccione 2018: victory for Molinari and Van Vlerken

Giulio Molinari triumphs in the 2018 edition of Challenge Riccione. Second and third place go to the Austrian Thomas Steger and the German Frederic Funk. A race to be experienced kilometer after kilometer, this first edition of Riccione, with 1000 athletes at the start.

The start of the elite men from the beach of Riccione at 10:00 am is the beginning of this highly anticipated day. Molinari is the first out of the water (swim fraction of 1900 meters) and in the transition area. The transition phase favors Verdejo Inaki Baldellou who is the first to head out of T1 followed by Mattia Ceccarelli and Giulio Molinari. From the start Molinari and Ceccarelli set the pace on the bike for the group, leaving everybody behind. The two remain together until Monte Cerignone where Molinari breaks away on the downhill. Entering in T2, his advantage is stunning, almost 6 minutes ahead of the chase group led by Jaroslav Kovacic, followed by Christian Birngruber, Thomas Steger and Mattia Ceccarelli. During the 21km of the run fraction (21 km) Molinari is able to keep this advantage. His arrival is triumphal and Molinari closes the race in 4h00’58”. The Austrian Steger who has a sensational run fraction follows second. The podium is completed by the German Frederic Funk, the surprise of the day.

In the women’s race the Dutch Yvonne Van Vlerken wins the race with her exceptionally strong run. The experienced athlete with an impressive CV closes the race in 4h37’18”. The initial phase of the race is led by the young local athlete, Sharon Spimi. After her outstanding swim fraction, Spimi enters T1 first followed by Margie Santimaria and Swiss Celine Schaerer. The 90 km on bike through the region’s beautiful surroundings are spectacular with only a few drops of rain. At Coriano, Spimi and Santimaria are together but only a few kilometers after the young athlete of TD Rimini is a victim of a fall. She does not give up and gets back on the bike but loses her leading position. Santimaria remains in pole position until T2 but behind her Yvonne Van Vlerken is getting closer. The Dutch is able to manage the last fraction well and with a decisive and overwhelming run, closes the gap that separates her from the leader of the race. The Italian tries to keep up with Van Vlerken but her opponent is too fast. The Dutch crosses the finish line after 4h37’18” putting Santimaria in second place. The Austrian athlete, Bianca Steurer, comes in third.

“Everything went great, the weather held and athletes liked the new course – commented race director Alessandro Alessandri-. The athletes appreciated the logistics of Riccione Terme: race start, secretariat and Expo all in just a few hundred meters. As such, Riccione has confirmed its great propensity for sport and tourism. Giulio Molinari is a great champion who earned this exceptional victory and the victory of Van Vlerken gives this race the international prestige it deserves. Our thanks go to the mayor of Riccione, Renato Tosi, and to the Municipal Councilor for Sport and Tourism, Stefano Caldari, who have believed in this project. We also thank all the municipalities involved in the bike course (Rimini, Coriano, Montescudo and Conte Colombo, Sassofeltrio, Mercantino Conca, Monte Grimano, Monte Cerignone). A special thanks for Terme Riccione, the Civil Protection service of the municipalities involved, to the Red Cross, the police and all the volunteers who have been the soul of our events for years. I believe that I can say that we will see each other again in May 2019 for the second edition of Challenge Riccione to do more and better”.