French triathlete Aurelien Lebrun stole the show at the Christchurch Casino Elite Cup as part of the House of Travel Triathlon Festival yesterday at Pegasus, just outside Christchurch.

Aurelien LebrunRace winner Aurelien Lebrun
(Photo: HOT Triathlon Festival; click to enlarge)

Not only did the Frenchman beat all the men's hopes, in doing so he caught leading female Nicky Samuels in the dying stages of the run to take line honours in the handicap race.

In a format not seen in New Zealand before, the elite athletes were required to complete two super sprint triathlons back to back which entailed diving back into a second swim straight after completing the first run. "After wearing a wetsuit in the first swim you feel a lot heavier in the water when you go without" commented women's winner Samuels. The total distances were twice through a 350m swim, 10km bike and a 2.5km run. To spice it up further the women were given a five minute head start with the first athlete across the line taking home $500 in addition to the $1000 for first male and female elites.

In the women's race a group emerged from the swim together but race favourite Nicky Samuels quickly pulled ahead with Dutch international Sarissa De Vries on the opening bike leg. De Vries got the better of Samuels in the bike to run transition but mid way through the run Samuels took the lead and forged ahead. For the remainder of the race it would be a battle with Samuels against the chasing pack of men.

Meanwhile the opening swim and bike for the men saw six men establish themselves as a pack, including race favourites James Elvery and Tom Davison. As the group hit the opening run a war of attrition began with Rotorua's Sam Osbourne putting the hammer down straight away which resulted in the group completely fragmenting. The only one to stay close was Lebrun. After exiting the second swim in close contact, the pair set about working together only for Osborne to crash on a tight bend, losing contact. At the conclusion of the second bike Lebrun held a 30 second lead over the chasing group of Elvery, Davison, Dylan McNiece and Osbourne, who had remounted his bike. The race now became a one on one battle of the sexes between Lebrun and Samuels.

The hard riding Samuels started the final 2.5km run with a lead of around one minute over Lebrun "I knew I needed to put the hammer down on the second bike leg to have any chance against the guys. I probably should have pushed harder on the first bike leg as well" said Samuels. It was going to require a very fast run from Lebrun. With no other men in serious contention, the athlete all the way from Montpellier was literally sprinting out of transition and quickly began eating into Samuels' lead. "I saw Nicky at the start of the run and was told the gap but I also was looking behind as well". Finally, around 700 metres from the finish Lebrun made the catch and went on to win in style. Samuels held on for second overall. A minute and a half back from Samuels in the women's race saw the Dutch pair of De Vries and training partner Maaike Caelers taking second and third with NZ Under 23 representative Rebecca Kingsford in 4th and World Under 19 champion Mikayla Nielsen rounding out the top five. The men's placings saw Sam Osbourne recover from his crash and finish impressively in 2nd 34 seconds behind, Auckland's Elvery hung on for 3rd with Christchurch's Davison and McNiece in 4th and 5th respectively.

Race director John Newsom commended the elite athletes. "Conditions were not great out there with a strong, cool wind but the athletes took it in their stride. The handicap system worked almost perfectly. If I had made it five and a half minutes it would have likely been a sprint finish but for the first time trying this format I'm very happy with how it worked out".

Earlier in the day hundreds of athletes took part in a variety of events including an age group race, team event, Try a Tri, kids challenge and the terra firma (run/bike/run).

Results: House of Travel Triathlon Festival

Christchurch Casino Elite Cup 2 x (250m Swim / 10km bike / 2.5km run)

Elite Men

1. Aurelien Lebrun (France) 1:01:07
2. Sam Osbourne (Rotorua) 1:01:41
3. James Elvery (Auckland) 1:02:08
4. Tom Davison (Chch) 1:02:30
5. Dylan McNeice (Chch) 1:02:38

Elite Women

1. Nicky Samuels (Wanaka) 1:06:29
2. Sarissa De Vries (Holland) 1:08:00
3. Maaike Caelers (Holland) 1:08:47
4. Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau) 1:09:41
5. Mikayla Nielsen (Hamilton) 1:10:37

Sport Doctors Pegasus Classic (500m Swim / 15km Bike / 5km Run)


1. Rob Lord 0:53:33
2. Matt Mace 0:54:02
3. Nathan Peterson 0:54:23


1. Kiri Atkin 0:59:42
2. Emma Meyer 1:00:13
3. Laurence Gay 1:00:58

John Bull Cycles Try A Tri (150m Swim / 10km Bike / 2.5km Run)


1. Anthony Lineham 0:38:05
2. Timothy Lewis-Morris 0:38:41
3. Tom Berry 0:38:52


1. Sabine Schweitzer 0:39:06
2. Gemma Woods 0:39:31
3. Emily Bell 0:41:03

Sbs Bank Kids Tri Challenge

Boys 9-11 Years (150m Swim / 5km Bike / 2.5km Run)

1. Sean Swanson 0:27:52
2. Lorna Pairman 0:28:31
3. Nathan Cochrane 0:29:39

Girls 9-11 Years (150m Swim / 5km Bike / 2.5km Run)

1. Lorna Pairman 0:28:31
2. Eden Bastiaanse 0:29:43
3. Bayley Anderson 0:31:23

Boys 12-13 Years (150m Swim / 10km Bike / 2.5km Run)

1. Angus Bailey 0:33:21
2. Latham Fairhall 0:34:17
3. Hugo Jones 0:34:28

Girls 12-13 Years (150m Swim / 10km Bike / 2.5km Run)

1. Ella Harris 0:35:56
2. Arlia Schurr 0:36:42
3. Kate Smith 0:37:18

Sport Canterbury Terra Firma (2.5km Run / 15km Bike / 5km Run)


1. Simon Ralph 0:55:31
2. Paul Crossley 0:57:03
3. Matthew Dickinson 1:00:02


1. Karyn Carson 1:03:02
2. Sarah Heath 1:06:46
3. Jane Pairman 1:09:15

Fendalton Eye Clinic Team Challenge (500m Swim / 15km Bike / 5km Run)


1. Team Triceratops 0:56:47
2. Team Run Dmg 1:00:04 Male
3. Team Nwa 1:01:41 Male


1. Team Atkins Pushbikes 0:58:20
2. Team Deloitte Dynamite 1:01:34
3. Team House Of Travel Shirley 1:02:29


1. Ninja School Dropouts 1:07:21
2. Blink And Youll Miss Us 1:07:27
3. Ecan Programme Wonks 1:13:49

Full results can be found via