Ruzafa, Erbenova win XTERRA Greece

Apr. 30, 2017

Athens, Greece – Three-time XTERRA World Champion and two-time XTERRA European Tour Champion, Ruben Ruzafa of Spain and Helena Erbenova from Czech Republic took the wins at the 5th annual XTERRA Greece Championship in Municipality of Vari Voula Vouliagmeni – on the outskirts of Athens.

Ruzafa was runner up to Roger Serrano in Greece last year, in a tightly fought race that Serrano pulled ahead on the run to win.  Today, the roles were reversed and Ruzafa took his first win in Greece.

Erbenova, who had just returned from a four-day adventure race in China and in second for most of the race, also pulled the victory from Brigitta Poor on the run, but maintains her substantial lead in the XTERRA European Tour.

XTERRA World Tour managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…

Pictures | Results

It started great and finished even better.  Our third race of the XTERRA European Tour season took place in Vouliagmeni, Greece, a very nice suburb of Athens.

Our race takes place at the same venue as the 2004 Olympics and we share the same swim and transition area.  But this race is not for speedos and space helmets but for real men and women who go out and challenge themselves in the mountains and forest high above the Mediterranean.

The pro field was impressive with 20 men and 8 women representing 10 different nations.  Just under 400 total athletes took to the beautiful white sands for a 9:15 start.  The pros got a one minute advantage on the field over a two lap 1500m swim.

Jens Roth led from the water followed by Roger Serrano and young Maxim Chane’, Tiago Maia and Hannes Wolpert.  Not far back were super bikers Francois Carloni and 3 time XTERRA world champion Ruben Ruzafa.

Spanish Olympian Miriam Casillas Garcia was first woman out of the water and in the top 10 of all the swimmers.  Current Euro Champion Brigitta Poor was second but already 2 minutes back from the tiny Spanish woman.

“This was my first XTERRA,” smiled Miriam.  "And I was not so confident on the bike.  My second lap was much better.”

Indeed Brigitta passed into first place about half way into the first bike loop.  French woman Morgane Riou was in 3rd with Isabella Ferrer, a long distance racer on a new bike in 4th.

I was happily surprised to see many time champion Helena Erbenova only about 3.5 minutes behind starting the big climb.  Helena was just back from a 4 day adventure race in China and said she was “tired”.  But at the press conference she grinned and remarked “but when I am tired sometimes I have my best races”.

The start of both the bike and run course takes you up a steep road climb next to the Vouliagmeni Suites hotel, then up stone stairs, a hard path and more steep stairs to put you high above the seacoast road and the start of the mountain biking and trail running.

Things sorted themselves out and by the halfway point of the first bike lap. Serrano led with Jens Roth tight with him.  About 25 seconds back Carloni and Ruzafa had asserted themselves and were in their own pack chasing the leaders.  The surprise was young Maxim Chane’ riding very smoothly in 5th.  After that it was a gang fight with a dozen pros all battling up the hills and sliding the down the hills to gain positions.

At the start of the second lap Roger was off the stairs and on the dirt first with Ruben a very close second.  But Jens Roth would not go away.  He was still in the shadow of Roger while Ruzafa soon took a small lead - it was still anyone’s race.

“I fell once on the 2nd lap, but not bad,” said Ruzafa after the race. “It was very close to the finish and I don’t know what happened.  I fell at the Reunion Islands race a few weeks ago and hurt a rib and was worried I might hurt it again.” he said while rubbing his left side.  “But it was not too bad and I had the lead coming to the run”.

Carloni was still 4th but dropping back a bit and the young Chane’ continued in 5th with Arthur Forissier 6th and Chris Coddens coming on quickly in 7th.  Chris did not have that bad a swim but took some time to get going on the bike.

Poor led the women but Erbenova was riding quickly and now up to 3rd ahead of Riou and closing on Garcia despite the Spanish woman putting in a better second lap.

This was a classic Helena Erbenova race - don’t lose too much in the swim, ride fast and smart, and crush the run.

Into T2 Ruzafa held the lead with Serrano 2nd and the pesky Jens Roth hanging tight to the Spaniard.  Carloni was still 4th, Chane’ 5th but Coddens had moved up to 5th past Forissier.

On the run, Coddens continued to be the big mover and was now 5th, passed Max Chane’ on the first, steep run hill and closing on 4th place Francois Carloni.

Ruzafa had broken away but Roth and Serrano were tied together for the top three.

The women’s race was getting closer as well.  Brigitta still led but the Czech Rocket was now 2nd and closing fast.  Our Olympian was now 3rd but Morgane was closing on her.

At the start of the death march hill on the second lap Ruzafa had a commanding 50 second lead.  On the first lap Serrano looked beat and Roth strong, but the Spaniard is known as “El Gato” and indeed I think the cat was playing dead.

“I could not shake him on the bike or the run.” said Roger as he shook his head. “But I had a plan on the second lap and suddenly pushed hard near the tunnel and got a few seconds on him.  I am so happy with second.  I hardly sleep because of organizing XTERRA Spain so this is a fantastic result for me."

Roth is showing some superb form early in the season and is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Coddens continued his march to the front and ended up 4th just 40 seconds behind Roth who came out of the water almost 3 minutes ahead of the tall Belgian.  Arthur Forissier finished the top 5 with the amazing Xavier Dafflon, who was the first age grouper at Maui in 2016, in 6th with the 2nd fastest bike and the 3rd fastest run.

Pos Last First Nation Time Points Swim Bike Run
1 Ruzafa Ruben Spain 02:17:34 75 00:18:01 01:18:52 00:39:05
2 Serrano Roger Spain 02:18:58 67 00:16:39 01:20:56 00:39:53
3 Roth Jens Germany 02:19:15 61 00:16:22 01:20:58 00:40:08
4 Coddens Kris Belgium 02:19:59 56 00:19:35 01:21:35 00:37:19
5 Forissier Arthur France 02:21:19 51 00:18:20 01:23:51 00:37:41
6 Dafflon Xavier Switzerland 02:21:46 43 00:21:44 01:20:10 00:37:49
7 Carloni Francois France 02:22:41 47 00:18:01 01:21:52 00:41:02
8 Dolores Rui Portugal 02:23:16 39 00:18:49 01:22:32 00:40:24
9 Chané Maxim France 02:24:33 36 00:17:03 01:24:19 00:41:40
10 Kerner Thomas Germany 02:28:40 33 00:21:03 01:26:52 00:38:51
11 Maia Tiago Portugal 02:29:44 30 00:17:20 01:27:56 00:42:47
12 Van Daele Tim Belgium 02:29:52 27 00:20:05 01:27:00 00:41:15
13 Pyott Jan Switzerland 02:31:00 21 00:18:45 01:27:16 00:43:24
14 Buffe Julien France 02:31:24 23 00:18:04 01:27:02 00:44:24
15 Benesch Markus Austria 02:33:50 25 00:19:14 01:29:24 00:43:07
16 Wolpert Hannes Germany 02:34:22 0 00:17:22 01:28:44 00:46:35
17 Kubicek Jan Netherlands 02:36:39 0 00:18:42 01:35:35 00:40:42
18 Trakic Strahinja Serbia 02:39:38 0 00:18:05 01:34:10 00:45:18
19 Vicente Octavio Portugal 02:50:21 0 00:25:18 01:35:13 00:48:02

At the same point on the run course Brigitta led but Erbenova was now only a few seconds behind.

“I am not sure what happened but I had no strength today” said the sad Hungarian woman.  “I mean I was OK but when my mind said to push my body said no”.

Erbenova was really happy when we spoke to her in transition.

“I know I said sometimes when I am tired I go so fast, ” she giggled. “Maybe I should be tired more often.  I was very good on the bike and saved some energy.  I started the run a bit slow but on the first hill everything went great and after that I just kept running fast.  I caught Brigitta on the 2nd lap and then kept going.”

Brigitta was strong enough to stay 2nd and Miriam Casillas Garcia, our first time XTERRA woman from Spain, a very nice 3rd.  Morgane came within a minute but made a wrong turn on the run.

“I was going very fast and don’t know why I got lost – but I knew right away and turned back”.

Morgane is having a fine year with top fives at every race this season.  Isabelle Ferrer kept a nice strong pace to finish 5th in her very first XTERRA race.

Some exciting passing and chasing all day.  The age group racers were having just as good a time with a number of battles going back and forth.  The weather did get warmer in the afternoon but never too hot and the clouds kept the sun from frying too many exposed arms and legs.

Our Euro tour gets a couple weeks off now before racing again in Spain on May 14 followed by Portugal on May 20.

XTERRA Greece has surely moved into the top tier of our XTERRA World Tour.  When you combine Athens with a back-to-back weekend on Cyprus you have a fantastic opportunity to get out of the cold and snow of mainland Europe and start the season right.  As we say here “OPA”.

Pos Last First Nation Time Points Swim Bike Run
1 Erbenova Helena Czech Republic 02:42:52 75 00:23:40 01:33:43 00:43:14
2 Poór Brigitta Hungary 02:44:00 67 00:19:53 01:35:56 00:45:56
3 Casillas García Miriam Spain 02:46:18 61 00:17:58 01:42:35 00:43:28
4 Riou Morgane France 02:47:35 56 00:21:51 01:40:06 00:43:33
5 Ferrer Isabelle France 02:50:28 51 00:20:17 01:44:01 00:43:46
6 Golsteyn Maud Netherlands 02:56:15 43 00:22:07 01:44:56 00:47:03
7 Bucher Renata Switzerland 02:58:29 47 00:22:01 01:43:09 00:51:07

XTERRA European Tour Elite Standings - After 3

Francois Carloni continues to hold the XTERRA European Tour lead with Roger Serrano moving to second.  Brigitta Poor is dominating the Tour for the women after the first three of 15 events.

Up next: XTERRA Tarragona in Spain May 14.

Men S S S
1 Francois Carloni, FRA 151 61 47 43
2 Roger Serrano, ESP 142 75 DNS 67
3 Oivind Bjerkseth, NOR 100 33 67 DNS
4 Thomas Kerner, GER 94 DNS 61 33
5 Jan Pyott, SUI 79 56 DNS 23
6 Julien Buffe, FRA 77 DNS 56 21
7 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 75 DNS DNS 75
8 Yeray Luxem, BEL 75 DNS 75 DNS
9 Maximilian Sasserath, GER 67 67 DNS DNS
10 Maxim Chane, FRA 66 30 DNS 36
11 Stephan Radeck, GER 64 25 39 DNS
12 Jens Roth, GER 61 DNS DNS 61
13 Kris Coddens, BEL 56 DNS DNS 56
14 Arthur Forissier, FR 51 DNS DNS 51
15 Sebastian Neef, GER 51 DNS 51 DNS
16 Jörg Scheiderbauer, GER 51 51 DNS DNS
17 Xavier Daflon, FRA 47 DNS DNS 47
18 Tomas Kubek, SLK 47 47 DNS DNS
19 Hannes Wolpert, GER 43 DNS 43 0
20 Mark Hamersma, NED 43 43 DNS DNS
21 Jim Thijs, BEL 39 39 DNS DNS
22 Geert Lauryssen, BEL 36 36 DNS DNS
23 Tiago Maia, POR 27 DNS DNS 27
24 Doug Hall, GBR 27 27 DNS DNS
25 Tim Van Dale, BEL 25 DNS DNS 25
26 Callum Hughes, GBR 23 23 DNS DNS
27 Loic Doubey, FRA 0 DNS DNS DNS
28 Octavio Vicente, POR 0 DNS DNS 0
29 Markus Benesh, AUS 0 DNS DNS 0
30 Strahinja Travic, SER 0 DNS DNS 0
31 Jan Honza Kubicek 0 DNS DNS 0
1 Brigitta Poor, HUN 217 75 75 67
2 Helena Erbenova, CZE 142 67 DNS 75
3 Morgane Riou , FRA 123 DNS 67 56
4 Maud Golsteyn, NED 103 56 DNS 47
5 Cecila Jessen, SWE 100 39 61 DNS
6 Miriam Casillas Garcia, ESP 61 DNS DNS 61
7 Nicole Walkers, GRB 61 61 DNS DNS
8 Daz parker, GBR 56 DNS 56 DNS
9 Isabelle Ferrer, FRA 51 DNS DNS 51
10 Marika Wagner, SWE 51 DNS 51 DNS
11 Carina Wasle, AUT 51 51 DNS DNS
12 Kristina Lapinova, SLK 47 47 DNS DNS
13 Renata Bucher, SUI 43 DNS DNS 43
14 Louise Fox, GRB 43 43 DNS DNS
15 Anna Pauline Sasserath 36 36 DNS DNS
16 Kathrin Muller, GER 33 33 DNS DNS
17 Marta Menditto, ITA 30 30 DNS DNS
18 Anne Sphie Marechal, FRA 0 DNS DNS 0

2017 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule

XTERRA Cyprus was the 12th of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 29.

Elite Winners or Location
Feb 25
Richard Murray / Flora Duffy
Mar 4
Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox
Mar 18
XTERRA Saipan + Silver
Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle
Mar 25
Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
Apr 1
Kieran McPherson / Renata Bucher
Apr 1
XTERRA Chile # Silver
Felipe Barraza / Barbara Riveros
Apr 2
XTERRA Malta * Silver
Roger Serrano / Brigitta Poor
Apr 8
Sam Osborne / Jacqui Allen
Apr 9
Josiah Middaugh / Suzie Snyder
Apr 16
Ruben Ruzafa / Carina Wasle
Apr 23
Bradley Weiss / Carina Wasle
Apr 23
XTERRA Cyprus * Silver
Yeray Luxem / Brigitta Poor
Apr 29
Ben Allen, Kieran McPherson, Sam Osborne, Bradley Weiss / Carina Wasle
Apr 30
XTERRA Greece * Silver
Ruben Ruzafa / Helena Erbenova
May 6
May 14
XTERRA Spain * Silver
May 14
XTERRA Brazil # Silver
Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo
May 20
Pelham, AL, USA
May 27
Jun 10
Jun 17
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Jun 18
Jun 24
Vallee de Joux
Jul 2
Jul 9
Victoria, B.C., Canada
Jul 15
Beaver Creek, CO, USA
Jul 30
Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Aug 5
Aug 5
XTERRA Norway * Silver
Aug 6
Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Aug 12
Quebec City, Canada
Aug 12
Ontario, Canada
Aug 13
Aug 13
XTERRA Poland * Silver
Aug 19
Aug 26
XTERRA Sweden * Silver
Hammarbybacken, Stockholm
Aug 26
Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Sep 2
XTERRA Japan + Silver
Sep 3
Mons Klint
Sep 16
Ogden, Utah, USA
Oct 29
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour
Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale

Race Reports