Ruben Ruzafa and Kathrin Mueller shared the top spot on the podium for the fourth time this season and the second time in as many weeks at the XTERRA Germany Championship / ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Zittau, Germany on Saturday.
The race was the 9th of 11 races in the XTERRA European Tour with just XTERRA England (Aug 24) and XTERRA Denmark (Aug 31) remaining. The victory is Ruzafa's seventh straight on the Euro Tour this year (eighth straight overall since winning Worlds last year). He had already solidified his 2014 XTERRA European Tour Championship last week at XTERRA Czech as the best six scores out of 11 count.
Saturday’s win is Mueller's fifth in six races and she leads the XTERRA European Tour in points with 590, however, defending and 2x Euro Tour Champ Helena Erbenova still has a chance should she win back-to-back races at XTERRA England and XTERRA Denmark.
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas was in Zittau, serving double duty as the head of XTERRA and also the captain for Team USA. Here he tells us about the day…
XTERRA Germany has always been a first-class event. Benno Schwager and his men have grown this event from a fun thing for five buddies many years ago to this year, a world championship.
No expense was spared and the compound, expo area, food vendors, performance stage and huge TV screen made for an exciting experience for everyone.
If you have been following the European Tour you know it has threatened to rain every race. Finally the rain Gods got their way and it poured on and off all day. As with any ITU event, each class had its own race.
Team USA was well represented with 61 participants – the largest contingent outside of Germany. I had the pleasure of being the team manager (or mangler) and am proud to say we did a great job with Hannah Rae Finchamp bringing home gold in the 18-19 division (and she was the 2d woman overall).
Kathy Hudson got us a bronze in 50-54, John Royson a bronze in 60-64, Dave Rakita silver and Alan Moore bronze in 65-69; and the ever faithful G.L. Brown a bronze in 70-74. USA Elite champ Josiah Middaugh brought home silver in the elites and Emma Garrard a 5th in elite women.
Glad to say the podium was full of international XTERRA racers from 31 countries. Gosh, the ITU is getting almost as good as Maui!
Back to the racing. The field was absolutely stacked with Ruben Ruzafa, Conrad Stoltz, Braden Currie, Josiah, Leo Chacon, Michi Weiss, Francois Carloni, Asa Shaw, Kris Coddins, Yeray Luxem and on and on. The women’s field was no less impressive with Kathrin Mueller, Helena Erbenova, Flora Duffy, Erin Densham, Jacqui Slack, Carina Wasle, Renata Bucher, Chantell Widney, Emma Garrard and Suzie Snyder among the better known names.
Officials ruled the swim no wetsuit despite an air temp of mid 50’s (14 C) at best. Temp was 20.3 and the ITU folks held firm. This hurt Josiah as he can stay in contention on the swim with a wetsuit, but in cold water and without one – he was instantly back 1:15 on Ruzafa and 2 minutes from Currie and nearly 2 ½ minutes on Leo Chacon. German road stars Chris Otto and Faris Al-Sultan were in the lead swim pack with Chacon, Brice Daubord, Roger Serrano and Ben Allen. Organizers have made a scaffolding bridge for bikes to cross over the access path to the beach so that citizens coming to enjoy the park don’t need to stop for the race. Poor Ben Allen crashed there two years ago and this year hit something hard and had his rear tire ripped off the wheel and tangle itself around the hub and chain ring. Day over for the Aussie hope.
Ruzafa is simply unstoppable. He pedaled through the field and by the time the men hit the top of the highest hill had a solid lead of about 40 seconds on Chacon with Carloni in 3rd and a furious pack of Conrad, Braden Currie, Michi Weiss and Josiah another 30 seconds back. What was not so great was this pack was hitting the middle of the women’s field and having to pass them; often in difficult spots. These four men came around the feed corner on either side of South Africa’s Susan Sloan, went past her and flew down the fastest downhill still juking left and right trying to find an edge on one another.
Erin Densham and Flora Duffy are super-fast in the water and pulled together to get an edge on German favorite and Euro Tour leader Mueller. They carried about 1:30 coming out of T1 but by the time they got to the top of the hill, Mueller had 30 seconds on Flora, another 30 to Erin, and a minute over Garrard, Widney and Slack.
It was an amazing demonstration of power and skill from Ruben and Kathrin. They did it in horrible conditions – I mentioned the air temp. It had started raining hard during the age group race which went off at 9:30 – then the skies parted and the sun came out. Locals wagged their finger saying “just wait” and soon enough the gray returned with more showers. The trails were smushed from the 400 riders who had gone out early in the day and the elites were simply covered head to toe to the extent it was barely possible to see their uniforms!! Little white dots of eyes in a sea of dripping mud.
“I’ve been riding over 20 years and this was the toughest I ever had” said John Royson. Josiah seconded those thoughts. When asked what his strength was he replied “nothing went really wrong. I got through it without many problems.”
Ruben posted the fastest bike time but Josiah’s was second. Francois Carloni can sure ride a bike and came off in 3rd but our always happy Frenchman has suffered from a broken bone in his foot and was run down by Currie, Weiss, Leo Chacon and Kris Coddens to end up with a great 7th.
Michi Weiss is back and looking very strong. “I wanted to get back to XTERRA and see how fast these guys are” said the Ironman star. “The competition is super strong and I had better bring a better race to Maui if I want to get on the podium”.
Josiah chased hard after Ruben and put in a fabulous 4th fastest time on the run and took back a 1 ½ minutes but it was not enough. Ruzafa still remains The Man and even with that target on his back, he is dominating 2014. The same is true for Kathrin. Once she got the lead, nobody came close. Czech wonder woman Helena Erbenova put in the fastest bike but was, like Middaugh, hampered by the no wetsuit decision. Helena finished 3rd just four minutes out of first and sadly lost over five-minutes on the swim. Flora had a good race but the conditions certainly did not suit her. “I’m really happy with 2nd because it was so, so hard out there” she smiled. “I won’t have to deal with this at Maui”. Emma Garrard out-sprinted Slack in the last K or so for 5th, Canadian Chantell Widney ran her way into 4th.
And so the day ended with lots of Champagne showers to match Mother Nature’s rain showers. A truly great day for XTERRA and the ITU. Next up England and things are looking very solid for the next to last event of the season.
Top 10 Men
|Pl||First Name||Last Name||Country||Time||Swim||T1||Bike||T2||Run|
Top 10 Women
|Pos||First Name||Last Name||Country||Time||Swim||T1||Bike||T2||Run|
Tentative as of 8.17.14
2014 XTERRA European Tour Point Standings
|1||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||100||100||x||100||100||x||100||100||100||600|
|2||Braden Currie, NZL||x||x||x||90||90||100||90||75||82||527|
|3||Francois Carloni, FRA||x||90||100||x||31||x||75||x||58||354|
|4||Yeray Luxem, BEL||x||82||x||69||75||69||x||x||x||295|
|5||Asa Shaw, GBR||x||69||x||75||69||x||69||x||x||282|
|6||Jan Pyott, SUI||75||x||x||58||x||63||53||x||x||249|
|7||Will Kelsay, USA||63||63||49||34||x||x||x||31||x||240|
|8||Kris Coddens, BEL||x||x||x||82||82||x||x||x||63||227|
|9||Ben Allen, AUS||x||x||x||x||63||82||x||82||x||227|
|10||Albert Soley, ESP||90||x||82||49||x||x||x||x||x||221|
|1||Kathrin Mueller, GER||90||x||100||100||100||x||82||100||100||590|
|2||Helena Erbenova, CZE||100||x||90||63||x||100||100||82||82||554|
|3||Carina Wasle, AUT||x||x||x||69||90||90||90||75||41||455|
|4||Renata Bucher, SUI||x||x||x||75||82||82||75||69||58||441|
|5||Jacqui Slack, GBR||75||82||x||x||58||x||x||90||63||368|
|6||Brigitta Poor, HUH||x||x||82||x||x||75||69||58||49||333|
|7||Sandra Koblmueller, AUT||x||90||x||58||69||x||63||x||x||280|
|8||Maud Golsteyn, NED||82||x||x||82||x||x||x||63||45||272|
|9||Chantell Widney, CAN||x||x||x||90||75||x||x||75||240|
|10||Louise Fox, GBR||x||x||75||x||x||69||49||45||x||238|
Next up: XTERRA England at Vachery Estate on August 24 (registration still open at www.xterraengland.com, then the Euro Tour finale at XTERRA Denmark in Tisvilde on August 31.
2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
The XTERRA Germany Championship was the 30th 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||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|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|