The first edition of a race is always exciting; with the pros battling it out for the prestige of the inaugural title. Challenge Malta, which takes place for the first time this Sunday 15 May, is no exception with an international field of professional athletes toeing the starting line.
In the men’s race, the biggest favourite seems to be Caleb Noble, a regular fixture on the podium of his native Australia. His biggest opposition could be from Slovenian, Jaroslav Kovacic, who won both Challenge Venice and Challenge Almere-Amsterdam in 2018 and broke the course record at the second-oldest long distance triathlon in the world. Kovacic may be more of a long distance specialist but can’t be discounted over the middle distance and will certainly be one of the favourites for victory on Sunday.
Of course, there will be some strong outsiders including Kristian Rød (NOR) and Milosz Sowinski (POL). Whether they can make things difficult for the experienced Noble and Kovacic remains to be seen, but they will certainly want to show themselves at the front of the race. The Dutchman Niek Heldoorn made his long distance debut at the end of last year, but is more experienced on the middle distance. In Malta, he can show what he’s worth.
In the women’s race, a smaller field of professional athletes will be at the start and the battle at Challenge Malta looks set to unfold mainly between Chantal Cummings (GBR), Svenja Thoes (DEU) and Valentina D’Angeli (ITA). Cummings and Thoes are every evenly matched and the battle therefore looks set to be particularly exciting. D’Angeli is ranked lower, but has proven more than once to be an athlete who can surprise.
The inaugural Challenge Malta takes place on Sunday 15 May and starts at 6:15am local time. The swim will take place in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, the bike course goes along the coastline and the run course will be a point-to-point run along the coast, finishing in the heart of the capital, Valetta. You can follow updates via www.challenge-family.live