Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and Maud Golsteyn from the Netherlands captured the elite titles at XTERRA Norway, held at the Norejfell Ski & Spa Resort in Noresund this afternoon.
For Ruzafa, a three-time XTERRA World Champion, the win is the 30th of his career and seventh this year. For Golsteyn, it's her first win as an elite.
XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…
The story today is not that Ruben Ruzafa won. Again. The story is all about the lovely Maud Golsteyn, who won her first XTERRA since starting in Sardinia in 2009.
“I am so thrilled, the feeling is fantastic,” she smiled. "I had a very good bike, but a not so good swim. I rode pretty fast and caught Louise. We stayed together for quite a while and when we got to that final, long 10K climb I was able to get away.”
Golsteyn led Great Britain’s Louise Fox by two minutes heading onto the run and it was beginning to rain. The unknown Nicoline Sorensen was in her first mountain bike race but pushed hard on the last 10K and came into T2 just 30-seconds behind Fox.
“I was so surprised when I started catching her,” said Sorensen. "And then I started to cramp up on the ridge, and I knew I had to stop. Then I looked ahead and Louise was also cramping!”
Indeed the second and third place women were within shouting distance and both stopped to massage out cramps.
“I saw her stopped and stretching her leg,” said Fox. “I was able to get going before her and felt pretty good the rest of the way. I was worried because I broke my toe in Finland and had not been able to run very much.”
Tanya Sorensen led out of the water and the first 8K of the bike and finished in 4th. All that sounds fairly normal – except you were not here and you were not running on top of a mountain in a driving, and I mean a serious, rain.
The morning was cloudy and cool, but dry. The swim and first loop of the bike were actually warm and several bikers were shedding their jackets and sweating. Ruben came out of the water with young German Peter Lehmann, Kristian Rod (NOR) and Anders Mortensen (DEN). Ruzafa quickly asserted himself and started riding away. Lehmann was not giving up and was down only a few minutes onto the second lap of the lower course.
“I was riding really well but knew I could not catch Ruben so I wanted to keep my own pace,” said Lehmann.
We were all pulling for Peter as he has had a miserable season with mechanicals and even a bee sting that felled him in France.
“I felt good the whole way and was surprised when three other guys caught me and we all came into T2 together,” added Lehman.
Czech age grouper Tomas Matera, Olympian and age grouper Eskild Ebbesen and pro Espen Helgesen went up the first hill past the resort within 20 feet of each other.
Ebbesen was a beast on the bike. A 5-time Olympian with 3 gold and 2 bronze medals, this man is fit and focused. He simply out muscled the others up the long final climb. He’ll be in Maui and I suspect he will put some fear in the 45-49 age group bunch. The crowd was yelling and banging the fences, it was all very exciting. Quietly but efficiently Anders Bregnhoj was catching the second place struggle putting in the fastest bike time, two seconds faster than Ruzafa.
Up onto the mountain where racers start with about 3-kilometers of reasonable climbing and come face to face with a steep, next to impossible climb section. “Here it is better to walk rather than try to run and lose lots of energy ending in deep mud or slip and finally end up going no faster,” said XTERRA Euro Tour director Nico Lebrun.
Lehmann began to use that energy he had saved on the bike. Local pro Oivind Bjerkseth, who laid out the entire course, was catching the pack. The difficult run and the beginnings of the rain fractured the bunch leaving Peter Lehmann a very happy 2nd about seven-minutes behind Ruzafa. In 3rd overall was Matera (a pro adventure racer) and he was just 15-seconds ahead of Espen Helgesen.
“We had a great run together,” he smiled. “I was behind him on the last downhill but he started to slow and then I pushed. When I got past him he did not come back. I am headed to the USA next week for the adventure racing World Championship but I think I will try to race pro in XTERRA next year.”
Espen was a fine 4th overall on a very difficult day.
Ruzafa was gracious as always. He controlled himself and the race. “I have many races coming up in the next weeks so I wanted to race, not just train. This is a very hard course so it was perfect for me”.
As is often the case, we were all soaked at the 3-hour mark and it only lasted an hour. Norway is an unqualified success. The organization was great, the resort first-class and the challenge superb. Combine that with spectacular nature and wildlife, and this race will get on everyone’s must do list.
Congratulations to a fine victory for Maud Golsteyn. This has vaulted her to 3rd in the season points standings behind only Helena Erbenova and Brigitta Poor. Ruzafa is now nearly 200 points ahead of Francois Carloni and just over 200 ahead of Xavier Dafflon. There are three races left and two of them are Gold offering 100 points to the winner and 90 to 2nd place. Ruzafa does have a commanding lead, but certainly does not have a lock on the Championship. For some reason neither Carloni nor Dafflon are entered in Poland next week and Ruzafa will not be there. Hmm, change of mind anyone?
It can only get more interesting from here.
|4||Tanja Hultengren Larsson||NOR||3:40:49||56|
RUZAFA, KARASKOVA-ERBENOVA REMAIN ON TOP OF EURO TOUR
Ruben Ruzafa the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champion is now almost untouchable after 11 of 14 races on this year's tour. In the men's chase Carloni retains his spot at No. 2, with Xavier Dafflon still in third position followed by Yeray Luxem in 4th and Rui Dolores remains in 5th place.
For the women, Helena Karaskova-Erbenova is still in the lead with Brigitta Poor in second as neither raced today in Norway. With her victory today Golsteyn moved up to third place, Carina Wasle dropped to 4th and Morgane Riou still at No. 5.
Next Up: XTERRA Poland, August 13