Golega, Portugal - Three-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa of Spain and three-time XTERRA European Tour Champion Helena Erbenova of the Czech Republic captured the elite titles at XTERRA Portugal on Saturday.
It was the third of 11 races on this year’s XTERRA European Tour.
“It was a good day in Portugal,” said XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas. “Mild temperature, clouds and some breeze made it perfect for the competitors. Ruben Ruzafa is back to his dominating ways. He made a power move on Francois Carloni on a steep uphill, passed into first and never looked back. For the women, Helena had a good swim and worked with Myriam Guillot-Boisset to catch leaders Brigitta Poor and Renata Bucher. Bucher, Myriam and Helena stayed together passing and repassing until the end when Erbenova was able to break away followed by Guillot-Boisset.”
In the highly competitive men’s race Ruzafa took the tape in 2:34:11, more than 1:20 ahead of Belgium star Yeray Luxem, with the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champ Roger Serrano in third.
“Carloni and Serrano were shadowed by Belgium Yeray Luxem until Luxem had a problem on a downhill,” explained Nicholas. “He rode very hard to get back to the Franco-Spanish duo but headed on the run in 4th. Carloni and Serrano ran together for the first 6K and then Roger pulled away. Luxem caught Francois about 4k from the finish and passed Serrano when the Spaniard leapt over a fallen tree and immediately cramped.”
Here is the full story from Kahuna Dave...
We’re 3 races into the European season and we’ve had 3 great races. But Portugal has to top the list for hard fought battles.
It had been raining hard the week prior to the event and organizers had to do some serious reshaping of the bike course. The run remained essentially the same, and a few parts were underwater mid week but had dried out considerably by Saturday.
The race in Portugal is in Golega, pronounced gol – gah. It is a gorgeous village best known as the horse capital of Portugal. Each November Golega hosts two festivals that bring nearly half a million people to town. This is the home of the famous and beautiful Lusitano breed. The city has dozens of small hotels and guest houses, restaurants and small bistro’s everywhere. These folks can handle tourists, even ones on 2 wheels and dressed in lycra. The pasta party was held in and on the grounds of an old winery. This was a Portuguese celebration of the highest order. Outside Maui, there has never been such a fabulous table of food for the athletes. Six different pastas, 3 different salads, deserts, breads. It looked as good as it tasted.
The swim here is in a narrow man made lake with a water start in front of the dam. The problem are weeds. The city worked hard with their cutting and dredging machine, and they took out loads of material, but shreds of the stuff simply floated to the top. While not at all dangerous, it still looked funny as swimmers thrashed their ways through the green flotsam.
Here the swim does one 750m lap out and back. At the exit, you take a narrow trail up a grass bank, run to the dam, then onto the dam and dive back in to start your second lap. Lots of fun and great excitement for the fans. New Zealander Sam Osborne and Euro points leader Roger Serrano took a nice lead onto the bike with Tiago Maia, a quick Porguguese swimmer. Jaime Rosa’s men built a cool wooden ramp riders went over, around and then under before leaving the city park for the hills and farmland. Because the usual trails were bogs of mud, the first 7K were primarily dirt and paved roads. This made for some great pace lines of drafting and the lead men were definitely working together.
Brigitta Poor was unusually second out of the water behind Sara Bonilla Bernardez but was riding quickly to the front. Behind her Helena Erbenova had a better than normal swim but was still back in 5th behind Renata Bucher, Carina Wasle and Myriam Guillot-Boisset. Then something I have never seen in over 20 years of watching happened. Wasle went backwards, but Renata, Myriam and Erbenova caught Brigitta and all four were together racing for the lead with Wasle not far behind. Better than 20K into the bike we had the entire podium within a minute of each other.
It was not far different for the men. Osborne, better known for ITU performances, had the power, but Roger had the skills. Francois Carloni and Ruben worked together and caught the lead duo. Sam kept spinning his rear tires on the climbs and while he could gain on the flats he could not bridge back up. This bike course has no long, sustained climbs, but it does have very steep and gravely climbs that are technical. Ruzafa, Carloni and Serrano were together for a bit and In the meantime Belgian Yeray Luxem had caught the group. “I saw Ruben making a move on one longer really steep hills and I give 100% to stay with him” breathed Carloni. “But he comes by me like (and he moves his head quickly from looking over his shoulder to in front of him) he was making 2 KW more than me. There was no way I could keep with him.” Ruben gapped the other men who then decided to work together to not let him get too far away. Luxem crashed on a downhill. “I don’t know why I crashed, but I worked really hard and started to get back close by transition.”
For the women, Helena and Myriam had gotten away from Brigitta and Carina had passed Renata for 4th. At the start of the run Helena had a lead but the French woman was flying and not far back. Brigitta looked a bit tired in 3rd and Carina was doing her usual fast pace in 4th.
“I kept hearing she is 45 seconds and then 30 seconds behind” gasped Helena after the finish. Guillot-Boisset has won a few races putting in fast runs and Helena knew it. But she is not a 3 time European Champion by giving up and the Czech woman gutted it out for the win. Back a bit Carina had passed our Hungarian pro into 3rd. “I thought I was 4th for sure” smiled Brigitta “but a few K from the finish Carina was cramping and slowed way down and I got back to 3rd.” Carina recovered enough to take 4th.
Ruben had a lead, but kept glancing back to make sure nobody was coming. “I had a really bad swim” he said. “The green stuff got in my goggles and I didn’t like it so I had to work really hard to catch the other guys”. Behind, Carloni and Serrano were still literally tied to each other and running together. Luxem was mad at himself for his bike problem and was hunting the men in front. “I could see them and knew I was catching. I just hoped I had enough energy to go all the way to the finish” he said. Coming by me out of the vineyards, Ruzafa took a look back and saw nobody. There were 4 K to go and he felt the race was his. I looked off into the distance and could see 3 small specs coming at me. Serrano had run away from Carloni and sure enough, Luxem had passed and was now in 3rd. Going into a wooded section Serrano knew the Belgian was coming. “Near where we cross the river by the bridge there is a fallen tree. I jumped over it and OUCH, I cramped up” he growled. That was it. Luxem was past and ran to a fantastic 2d place. Serrano continued for 3rd, Carloni 4th and Sam Osborne 5th.
How’s that for some knock down battles? Passing and repassing, tight races on the bike and the run. The weather was perfect with a nice cloud cover a slight breeze and temperatures in the mid 70’s. That night, awards were held at the park and the Sagres beer flowed freely. Once again, the people of Golega showed wonderful hospitality. Everyone came. There was only 1 person who did not make the podium and he sent a friend to apologize. Think about how many awards ceremonies you have been to when several winners do not appear. Tables were full under a perfect full moon sky and even the normally reserved Ruzafa was still up chatting with folks at midnight. Indeed many of the pros were there having a beer and swapping stories of the day. Exceptional.
Now we have a break of a few weeks and get back to it again in Belgium in June where this first time race already has 900 entries. This is followed by Switzerland, which is also the ETU cross triathlon championship and the always great France. No matter if you are from the North America, South America, Asia, Africa or Oceania you need to think about coming to Europe and do a few of these great events. The cultures at each are rich and very different but the XTERRA family and spirit remain the same.
Here’s a look at the pro results:
|1||Ruben Ruzafa Cueto||2:34:11||75|
|11||Tim Van Daele||2:46:56||30|
|18||Lars Van der Eerden||2:59:28||DNP|
|7||Sara Bonilla Bernardez||3:30:24||43|
SERRANO, POOR LEAD XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR STANDINGS
Roger Serrano is still the top ranked athlete in the XTERRA European Tour following two wins and a third-place showing in Portugal. Brigitta Poor is tops amongst women having finished first, second, and third in the first three races this year. Next up is the inaugural XTERRA Belgium off-road tri on June 11.
|2016 XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR POINT STANDINGS|
|After 3 - 5.21.16|
|1||Roger Serrano, ESP||211||75||75||61|
|2||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||142||DNS||67||75|
|3||Francois Carloni, FRA||107||DNS||51||56|
|4||Brice Daubord, FRA||104||43||61||DNS|
|5||Pierre-Antoine Guilhem, FRA||82||61||21||DNS|
|6||Cedric Lassonde, FRA||69||30||39||DNS|
|7||Hannes Wolpert, GER||69||36||DNS||33|
|8||Jens Roth, GER||67||67||DNS||DNS|
|9||Yeray Luxem, BEL||67||DNS||DNS||67|
|10||Tim Van Daele, BEL||57||DNS||27||30|
|11||Maxim Chane, FRA||56||56||DNS||DNS|
|12||Arthur Forissier, FRA||56||DNS||56||DNS|
|13||Peter Lehmann, GER||51||51||DNS||DNS|
|14||Sam Osborne, NZL||51||DNS||DNS||51|
|15||Fabrizio Bartoli, ITA||47||47||DNS||DNS|
|16||Kris Coddens, BEL||47||DNS||47||DNS|
|17||José Estrangeiro, POR||47||DNS||DNS||47|
|18||Tomas Kubek, CZE||43||DNS||43||DNS|
|19||Maximilian Sasserath, GER||43||DNS||DNS||43|
|20||Dominik Wychera, AUT||39||39||DNS||DNS|
|21||Julen Loroño, ESP||39||DNS||DNS||39|
|22||Jan Kubicek, CZE||36||DNS||36||DNS|
|23||Rui Dolores, POR||36||DNS||DNS||36|
|24||Fabien Combaluzier, FRA||33||33||DNS||DNS|
|25||Jan Pyott, SUI||33||DNS||33||DNS|
|26||Max Neumann, AUS||30||DNS||30||DNS|
|28||Gonzalo Orosco, ESP||27||DNS||DNS||27|
|30||Sebastian Norberg, GER||25||DNS||25||DNS|
|31||Llewellyn Holmes, GBR||25||DNS||DNS||25|
|32||Julien Buffe, FRA||23||DNS||23||DNS|
|33||Veit Hoenle, GER||23||DNS||DNS||23|
|34||Tiago Maia, POR||21||DNS||DNS||21|
|1||Brigitta Poor, HUN||203||75||67||61|
|2||Helena Erbenova, CZE||150||DNS||75||75|
|3||Morgane Riou, FRA||118||67||51||DNS|
|4||Louise Fox, GBR||103||DNS||56||47|
|5||Maud Golsteyn, NED||95||56||DNS||39|
|6||Myriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA||67||DNS||DNS||67|
|7||Sandra Koblemueller, AUT||61||61||DNS||DNS|
|8||Ladina Buss, SUI||61||DNS||61||DNS|
|9||Carina Wasle, AUT||56||DNS||DNS||56|
|10||Alena Stevens, SVK||51||51||DNS||DNS|
|11||Renata Bucher, SUI||51||DNS||DNS||51|
|12||Diane Lee, GBR||47||47||DNS||DNS|
|13||Kristina Nec Lapinova, SVK||43||43||DNS||DNS|
|14||Sara Bonilla Bernardez, ESP||43||DNS||DNS||43|
|15||Danica Spiteri, MLT||39||39||DNS||DNS|
2016 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
XTERRA Portugal was the 16th of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 21st annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on Oct 23.
|DATE||WORLD TOUR EVENT||LOCATION or WINNERS
|7-Feb||XTERRA Philippines||Brad Weiss/Lizzie Orchard|
|21-Feb||XTERRA South Africa||Brad Weiss/Flora Duffy|
|5-Mar||XTERRA Motatapu||Olly Shaw/Mary Gray|
|12-Mar||XTERRA Saipan||Brodie Gardner/Carina Wasle|
|20-Mar||XTERRA Costa Rica||Karl Shaw/Myriam Guillot-Boisset|
|26-Mar||XTERRA Argentina||Josiah Middaugh/Myriam Guillot|
|3-Apr||XTERRA Malta||Roger Serrano/Brigitta Poor|
|16-Apr||XTERRA New Zealand||Braden Currie/Lizzie Orchard|
|17-Apr||XTERRA La Reunion||Ruben Ruzafa/Carina Wasle|
|23-Apr||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship||Braden Currie/Lizzie Orchard|
|7-May||XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Championship||Ben Allen/Jacqui Slack|
|7-May||XTERRA Brazil||Albert Soley/Sabrina Gobbo|
|7-May||XTERRA Greece||Roger Serrano/Helena Erbenova|
|14-May||XTERRA Tahiti||Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson|
|21-May||XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park||Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder|
|21-May||XTERRA Portugal||Ruben Ruzafa/Helena Erbenova|
|25-Jun||XTERRA Switzerland||Vallee de Joux|
|25-Jun||XTERRA Mine over Matter||Milton, Ontario, Canada|
|10-Jul||XTERRA Victoria||Victoria, B.C., Canada|
|16-Jul||XTERRA Beaver Creek||Beaver Creek, CO, USA|
|23-Jul||XTERRA Parry Sound||Ontario, Canada|
|31-Jul||XTERRA Italy||Lago Di Scanno|
|31-Jul||XTERRA Dominican Republic||Barahona|
|13-Aug||XTERRA Sweden||Hellsgaarten, Stockholm|
|14-Aug||XTERRA Canmore||Canmore, Alberta, Canada|
|20-Aug||XTERRA Germany – XTERRA European Championship||Zittau|
|27-Aug||XTERRA Sleeping Giant||Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada|
|27-Aug||XTERRA Korea||Daeahn Reservoir, Wonju City|
|4-Sep||XTERRA Denmark||Mons Klint|
|4-Sep||XTERRA Quebec||Quebec City, Quebec|
|11-Sep||XTERRA Woolastook||New Brunswick, Canada|
|17-Sep||XTERRA USA / Pan Am Championship||Ogden, Utah, USA|
|23-Oct||XTERRA World Championship||Kapalua, Maui|