(Prachatice) - Reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and Kathrin Mueller from Germany captured the XTERRA Czech Championship race in Prachatice on Saturday.
With the win, his sixth straight this year, Ruzafa also captures the 2014 XTERRA European Tour Championship. The Tour title is awarded to elites with the best cumulative score in six of 11 championship races and Ruzafa posted the perfect 600 score. And the 35-year-old from Malaga did it against the best in the sport.
He stormed through the fastest XTERRA men in Europe (Asa Shaw, Francois Carloni, Yeray Luxem), he held off the hard-charging Kiwi Braden Currie of New Zealand, he won against 7x World Champ Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz in Italy two weeks ago, and today he took it to America’s-best, Josiah “Beast Mode” Middaugh.
Ruzafa's win streak is now at seven straight since winning XTERRA Worlds last October with 2014 championship victories at Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Czech.
“Ruben took the lead early in the bike and that was that,” said XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas. “Ben and Braden were together early out of the swim and when Ruben went by, Braden went with him. Alexander Haas caught and passed Josiah Middaugh and immediately crashed hard. I suspect he broke his shoulder. Josiah and Ben hung together until the second lap of the bike when Ruben just took off. Josiah came into T2 just under two minutes behind Ruzafa and could not get close on the run.”
Ruzafa won by three minutes over Middaugh, with Ben Allen more than three minutes back of that in third.
Top 5 Men
Ruben Ruzafa, ESP - 2:40:44
Josiah Middaugh, USA - 2:43:53
Ben Allen, AUS - 2:47:25
Braden Currie, NZL - 2:48:24
Jan Kubicek, CZE - 2:54:06
In the women’s race Kathrin Mueller came out on top for the fourth time this season and increased her lead in the European Tour standings as well.
“Kathrin simply never saw anybody. She was actually ahead of Ruben and Josiah coming out of the water. Jacqui Slack had a great swim and stayed in 2d the whole way. Helena was well back out of the swim, was good on the bike and ran well but couldn’t catch Slack,” said Nicholas.
Top 5 Women
Kathrin Mueller, GER - 3:05:18
Jacqui Slack, GBR - 3:10:23
Helena Erbenova, CZE - 3:12:58
Carina Wasle, AUT - 3:14:40
Renata Bucher, SUI - 3:16:20
With three races remaining in the European Tour Mueller leads Helena Erbenova 572 to 535 in the points standings. At this stage only Erbenova has a mathematical shot at overtaking Mueller to win the title.
“All in all the XTERRA Czech Championship was a fabulous event,” said Nicholas as he headed to the awards ceremony. “The course was beautifully marked with lots of vollies, wonderful bands and great food.”
Up next, the XTERRA Germany Championship race in Zittau on Saturday, August 16, which is doubling as the ITU Cross Tri World Championship. After that XTERRA England and XTERRA Denmark on successive weekends to wrap up the European Tour.
XTERRA Managing Director Dave "Kahuna" Nicholas was at the race and brings us this report...
A body in motion tends to stay in motion and nobody seems to have a way to stop the motion of Ruben Ruzafa. Another victory for the young Spaniard and a very convincing win it was.
The pro field was strong with several elites arriving early for next weeks ITU/XTERRA in Germany. Josiah Middaugh proved to be the quickest of the lot doing both with an excellent 2nd place. “I came out of the water right next to Ruben and we left transition together but I had problems with my bike shoe and then had a small crash and could never get back up to him” said the many time USA Champ.
Ben Allen and Braden Currie took the lead immediately but it was not long before Ruzafa caught them. “Ruben came past and Braden went with him” said Allen. “Next thing I knew Josiah and Alex Haas were with me.” Haas made a daring pass on Middaugh on a fast downhill but hit a rock, shredded his front wheel and had a nasty accident. Last report is a broken shoulder.
Braden hung with Ruben for the entire first lap – both of them coming by me on a tight technical downhill at breathtaking speed. Ben and Josiah were about a minute back and as close together as the front two. American Branden Rakita was having a great race alone in 5th followed by 3 time Winter Tri World Champ Pavel Andreev of Russia and Czech Jan Kubicek.
Kathrin Mueller was equally dominant in the women’s race. Kathrin is a very fast swimmer and she uses this advantage to the max. Here, she was out of the water and on the bike even before Ruzafa and Middaugh! She had over 4 minutes advantage on 2 time European champ and Czech favorite Helena Erbenova. “Oh, I was so bad in the swim, I just could not get going on the bike and then the run was not the best” sighed Helena. It was not that bad as she finished 3rd. The great resurgence was for Brit Jacqui Slack. “I’ve been racing so much this year I just was not motivated” she smiled with her great accent. “After taking a few weeks off I really felt like racing today and it was fun”. Indeed it was – Jacqui was the only woman to stay close to Mueller in the swim and followed it with very strong bike and run legs. I was in the woods watching a neat grassy downhill on the run when it started to rain. And it rained drops as big as dimes ! People were soaking wet and slipping and sliding down the grass. Here comes Jacqui seemingly without a care in the world and smiling in the rain as she went past for a well-deserved 2nd place. Carina Wasle put in another great European race to finish 4th and the ever quick Renata Bucher was 5th after posting the second fastest bike. But today belonged to Kathrin. Fastest swim, fastest bike, fastest run. You simply cannot beat that trifecta.
Back in the mens race, Braden Currie had dropped back and Ruben came past me on his way back to T2 with nobody in sight. Later Braden told me he had caught a bit of a flu bug after Italy and then the family’s travel plans went a bit sideways and while he had shaken the cold he had not had much chance to train. Josiah was hanging tough on the bike and was still just over a minute behind Ruzafa with Ben Allen a very fast 3rd. Ben was hurt earlier in the year and being a stubborn Aussie he kept racing. Finally taking some time off to heal, it appears now that he is back on form and on the podium. Braden was hanging in 4th but looking a bit flat and local Czech hero Jan “Honza” Kubicek had passed Rakita for 5th. Closing fast was another Czech Vaclav Holub who admits he can’t swim but can ride a bike.
At T2 Middaugh was just under 2 minutes behind Ruben with hopes of catching but it didn’t happen. “I heard I was within a minute 20 of him but he kept going and I faded a bit” leaving the USA champ just over 3 minutes behind at the finish. And so it ended with Ruzafa first, Middaugh 2nd, Ben in 3rd, Braden in 4th and a very happy Kubicek in 5th.
The big rain lasted about 15 minutes and the sun returned to this fabulous country village. Prachatice is a picturesque little village in southern Bohemia that dates back to the 11th century. The focus of the race is the town square that has a dozen architectural wonders to look at with shops and restaurants. T2 is here as well as the finish, performance stage and lots of exhibitors. It is a true Czech festival.
Costs here are very inexpensive. A great dinner for two with wine or beer is about $20-$25. Hotels are neat and clean and also a bargain. The course is tough but fun and the local people are glad to have XTERRA in town. The after after party is second only to Maui and was packed at 1am when your reporter fled the scene. If you want a European experience to include XTERRA you will not find any place that is a better value. Fabulous steins of Czech beer for $1.50 !! Great thin crust pizza for $4 !!
Excellent organization where things happen on time, courses are well marked and Michal always puts in some fun sections – this year a great downhill chicane leading to a 4’ drop (most walked it) and an “XTERRA family” atmosphere all week long. The Czech race is back and among the top 3 anywhere.
2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
The XTERRA Czech Championship was the 29th of 36 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 26, 2014.
|Date||Race||Location / Pro Winners
|23-Feb||XTERRA South Africa||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|8-Mar||XTERRA Motatapu||Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels|
|15-Mar||XTERRA Philippines Championship||Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher|
|29-Mar||XTERRA Guam Championship||Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher|
|29-Mar||XTERRA Costa Rica||Leonardo Chacon / Shonny Vanlandingham|
|30-Mar||XTERRA Great Ocean Road
||Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack|
|5-Apr||XTERRA Saipan Championship||Ben Allen / Carina Wasle|
|12-Apr||XTERRA New Zealand Championship||Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros|
|13-Apr||XTERRA West Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy|
|26-Apr||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|3-May||XTERRA Malaysia||Dan Hugo / Jacqui Slack|
|17-May||XTERRA Southeast Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy|
|24-May||XTERRA Mauritius||Sam Gardner / Karyn Southgate|
|24-May||XTERRA Spain Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Helena Erbenova|
|1-Jun||XTERRA Portugal||Ruben Ruzafa / Coralie Redelsperger|
|8-Jun||XTERRA Brazil Championship||Felipe Moletta / Sabrina Gobbo|
|15-Jun||XTERRA East Championship||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|21-Jun||XTERRA Greece||Francois Carloni / Kathrin Mueller|
|28-Jun||XTERRA Switzerland Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|29-Jun||XTERRA Norway||Dan Hugo / Cecilie Overbye|
|5-Jul||XTERRA Ontario||Sean Bechtel / Heather Pady|
|6-Jul||XTERRA France Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|6-Jul||XTERRA Victoria||Brent McMahon / Melanie McQuaid|
|6-Jul||XTERRA Freedom Fest||Sergio Florian / Laurel Dudley|
|13-Jul||XTERRA Sweden||Braden Currie / Helena Erbenova|
|19-Jul||XTERRA Mountain Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Chantell Widney|
|26-Jul||XTERRA Italy Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Helene Erbenova|
|2-Aug||XTERRA Mexico Championship||Irving Perez / Fabiola Corona|
|9-Aug||XTERRA Czech Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|16-Aug||XTERRA Germany Championship||Zittau|
|17-Aug||XTERRA Canmore||Alberta, Canada|
|24-Aug||XTERRA England||Cranleigh, Surrey|
|31-Aug||XTERRA Quebec||Lac Delage, Quebec, Canada|
|7-Sep||XTERRA Sleeping Giant||Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada|
|20-Sep||XTERRA USA Championship||Ogden/Snowbasin, UT|
|26-Oct||XTERRA World Championship||Maui, Hawaii|