Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer delivered a dominant performance at the second leg of the 2023 Super League Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift in Sursee, Switzerland, with Great Britain’s Olivia Mathias finishing in second place and 15 year-old Hungarian sensation Fanni Szalai grabbing bronze.
28-year-old Bragmayer won each of the three stages to produce a statement win ahead of the Arena Games finale in London on 8 th April 2023, having previously won the Singapore leg of the Arena Games in 2022. “I’m so happy with this win. I didn’t do anything special ahead of this race, but I felt really good going into it. I wanted to prove it here. I really don’t like losing and if you lose your focus then you’re out of the game,” she explained after finishing the races.
The action saw a mass start eight-length 200m pool swim in a 25m and not 50m pool (a first for the Arena Games), before a 4km Zwift bike leg and a 1km run on an elliptical running machine. Stage 2 would reverse that order, beginning with a 1km mass start run before a 4km bike and a 200m swim. The concluding Stage 3 would open with a Pursuit Start 200m swim, before the 4km bike leg and final 1km run to crown the overall winner.
The action began with UK’s Olivia Mathias, 24, being the first to push the pace, with the Welsh racer closely followed out of the water by Bragmayer and Emma Jackson (AUS).
Bragmayer and Mathias took an instant lead on the non-drafting 4km Zwift bike leg, opening up a 6sec advantage over the chasers by the 1km mark. That gap was maintained at the halfway mark, with Bragmayer edging Mathias into transition two to start the run in pole position.
Within 300m of the 1km run on elliptical treadmills, Bragmayer had created a 7sec advantage over Mathias, with Szalai and Jackson 12secs behind the leader. By the end of Stage 1, Bragmayer was 10secs clear of Mathias, with the 15-year-old Szalai comfortably beating the experienced Jackson into third.
The unique Arena Games format saw the athletes return to the treadmills for Stage 2’s opening 1km run, with home favourite Nora Gmür, 22, initially leading the field before the 15-year-old Szalai, racing without fear, powered to the front to finish the run 5secs ahead of Bragmayer.
The battle of the Hungarians on the 4km bike saw Bragmayer wipe out Szalai’s lead by the 1km mark, with Stage 1 force Mathias falling back to ninth. Home hopes were now being carried by Cathia Schär (SUI), who passed Szalai to move into second just ahead of T2.
After a frenetic transition, Bragmayer was first into the 200m swim, with Szalai losing valuable seconds due to a swimming cap malfunction. Schär was a chief beneficiary, but the race was soon becoming Bragmayer’s to lose, with the Hungarian taking the Stage 2 win by 17secs ahead of the Netherlands’ Rani Skrabanja. “I don’t like losing,” was Bragmayer’s mid-race verdict.
The pursuit start of the final 200m swim saw Bragmayer have a 30sec advantage over Jackson, Schär, Szalai and Mathias into the water, and that advantage would remain by T1, with Szalai and Mathias her closest chasers.
Onto the 4km bike and, with Bragmayer’s lead of 30secs remaining, it was swiftly becoming a battle for the remaining podium spots between Szalai, Mathias, Jackson and Skrabanja. Mathias was the first to push the pace harder, moving into second to gain a 10sec advantage by T2.
After a slick transition, Bragmayer began the 1km run on the self-powered treadmill 30secs ahead of Mathias and maintained that advantage throughout. The drama was just behind her, with Mathias and Szalai locking horns. Szalai had the Brit athlete within touching distance with 100m to go, but couldn’t quite make the pass to take silver.
Results: Elite Women
1. Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN) 00:37:40
2. Olivia Mathias (GBR) 00:38:02
3. Fanni Szalai (HUN) 00:38:02
4. Emma Jackson (AUS) 00:38:22
5. Rani Skrabanja (NED) 00:38:29