Funk and Salthouse Make History in Uzbekistan with Wins at the Inaugural Challenge Samarkand

Frederic Funk (DEU) posted a blistering bike split to take the win at today’s inaugural Challenge Samarkand while it was a start to finish win for Ellie Salthouse (AUS), marking the first international middle distance race in Uzbekistan.

There were no surprises as Aaron Royle (AUS) exited the water first in 25:03 with Funk 44 seconds down in second. On the bike, Funk immediately went into catch up mode, looking to close the gap with speeds of up to 61kph on the fast flat course. He finally caught Royle on the first of the few climbs on course at around 17km and he never looked back as he took control of the race. His lead on the bike was never threatened as he continued to push the speed and he arrived into T2 2:25 ahead of Royle with a fast transition putting him exiting T2 as Royle crossed the dismount line. His bike time on the 86km course was 1:53:35. Once out on the dead flat run around the rowing lake, Funk continued to hold his lead looking unthreatened throughout. However, behind him Filipe Azevedo (POR) started making time on Royle but it was short-lived. By the halfway point on the run, it was clear that nothing short of a disaster could prevent Funk from making history, taking the inaugural Challenge Samarkand win in 3:38:34. Behind him Royle took second in 3:41:35 and Azevedo took third in 3:43:45.

“The swim was OK, I tried to keep it controlled and also managed to lose not too much time to Aaron and then on the bike I tried to push,” said Funk. “But after one lap someone pulled the plug and I could barely push over 300W but I just tried to get as aero as possible. It was a really fast course and aerodynamics played a big role. The run felt good and controlled and I knew that if I had a good gap into the second half I could beat Aaron. I’m really happy to take the win. This is already a really iconic race and I can’t wait to explore the city.”

In the women, as expected Ellie Salthouse (AUS) exited the water in first in 26:45 but only two seconds clear of Lottie Lucas (UAE) and four seconds ahead of Margie Santimaria (ITA). Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR) was nearly a minute down in fourth. However, once on the bike, it wasn’t long before Pallant-Browne had ridden up into second place but Salthouse was not giving away her lead. Knowing Pallant-Browne’s strength on the run she did everything to extend her lead, pushing speeds of up to 59kph. By the 40km mark her lead had doubled to 2:30 and she never looked anything but comfortable. By the time Salthouse arrived into T2, she had extended her lead to over six minutes on Pallant-Browne. Pallant-Browne is renowned for her running prowess but it was Salthouse who held the power today. A 30 second stop-go penalty for Pallant-Browne for racking her bike incorrectly effectively sealed the deal and Salthouse took a clear win, having led from start to finish in 4:02:54. Pallant-Browne crossed the line in second in 4:12:50, clearly having left everything out on course in the testing hot and windy conditions. Margie Santimaria rounded out the podium in third in 4:18:16.

“It wasn’t easy – a very tough course, the headwind out there was ridiculous but then the tailwind was great,” said Salthouse. “It had a nice combination of climbing, downhils and cobblestones, a mix of everything, a really exciting day and I was happy to take the win. I was actually running a bit scared as obviously you never want Emma running you down, to have her behind me is a little scary but when I found out I was opening the gap, I was a bit surprised. We don’t have this kind of history in Australia so to be able to come here and experience the downtown area with the UNESCO heritage sites, it’s unlike anything else to be able to ride straight down the middle of that. I think this race definitely has big things coming and I encourage everyone to come next year and see what it’s all about.”

Finish Line Interviews


Frederic Funk

Aaron Royle

Filipe Azevedo


Ellie Salthouse

Emma Pallant-Browne – unavailable due to medical

Margie Santimaria