Arthur Serrieres from France and Helena Karaskova-Erbenova from the Czech Republic, captured the inaugural XTERRA Lake Garda off-road triathlon in northern Italy on May 27, 2018.
It’s the first career XTERRA World Tour win for Serrieres and the 28th for Karaskova, a four-time XTERRA European Tour champion.
Here is the story of the day, compiled by XTERRA Europe director Nicolas Lebrun with help from Konstantinos Koumargialis, and Doug Hall...
Lake Garda and Toscolano Maderno in particular, is not new to off road triathlon, as the area was hosting the X Gardaman cross triathlon event the last few years. The XTERRA Italy organizer Massimo Massacesi has worked hard to expand the sport in Italy and his choice to cooperate with the organizers of X Gardaman proved to be a great success.
The beautiful place has great facilities for an event with a big, calm, and warm lake combined with a perfect grassy area for the race village and finish line. This place is not only a weekend and vacation area for Italians but also many people from the nearest European countries. We saw the last days, all the work done by the organizers and the local authorities, it was full of people all day, cheering for athletes and creating a fabulous atmosphere similar to our biggest events in Europe.
Sunday's race was the fourth Mediterranean stop in the 2018 XTERRA European Tour (although we were in a lake) after a three-week break following XTERRA Greece.
For Serrieres, this is his first big XTERRA win. We knew that this young Frenchman was improving a lot after some great results last year and we were going to see him very soon at the top place of the podium. He was sick in his last race in Greece where his teammate Arthur Forissier took the win, but today he got the result he wanted.
First out of the water, was the usual suspect Jens Roth, with 1min lead. Maxim Chané and the big pack was about 2min back with both Arthur's in it. The Team Tvert athletes, Serrieres and Forissier, put the hammer down and working together, left everybody behind during both bike loops.
The bike here in Toscolano Maderno continues the reputation of the Italian race in Scanno bringing us another tough course of two 15km loops. It has some never ending steep climbs and very technical downhills where both power and technical skills are important.
The couple collaborated perfectly until T2 and it was only Xavier Dafflon who rode few seconds faster today. Behind them, local Marcello Ugazio and Francois Carloni were trying to minimize the gap from the leaders. The Italian Cross Triathlon champion was also in the top 10 fighting with the best.
The two teammates where unstoppable today and started together the run with a comfortable lead. They are both very good runners and it was time to leave the friendship on the side and just show who is the best of the day. Serrieres saw a small weakness on Forissier after the first kilometer and pushed hard to take the lead. With the best run split of the day, 2min faster than any other competitor, he crossed the finish line first with a big smile on his face.
“I started the run with Arthur and although he was pushing hard, I was able to run with him. I made my move after a while and saw that he could not follow me. At that time, I knew that this will be my first XTERRA victory. It was a hard course and a very hot day. I am very happy with my performance,” said Serrieres.
Forissier had not his best run but managed to stay in 2nd position. “I am very proud of my teammate. Arthur deserved this victory today,” said Forissier.
Ugazio took the 3rd spot on the podium, same position as in Greece at the end of last month.
“I gave everything I had but the French guys were really strong today. I am happy with another place on the podium at an XTERRA event,” said Ugazio.
Dafflon did his best to close the gap from the leaders on the bike and the run and finished 4th. The Italian Cross triathlon Champion, Rinaldi was 5th, and Carloni was 6th.
We also witnessed an amazing performance from the legend, Olivier Marceau. The 3 times Olympian, 3 times 2nd place in Maui and multi-times XTERRA winner came here for fun and managed to finish 9th overall.
For the women it was Nicole Walters who exited the water first 1min 15 sec in front of Diane Lee and the “dangerous” Carine Wasle just behind Diane. Diane Luthi from Switzerland was 4th and the Italian Cross triathlon Champion Eleonora Peroncini was 5th.
“This was a very tough swim, I was kicked few times from the men in front of me” said Walters.
Karaskova was 5min and 15sec back form the leaders, but we all know that XTERRA races are full of surprises and in such hard races anything can happen.
At the second climb of the first loop on the bike, Carina pushed hard and took the lead and almost kept it all day! Nicole was 2nd during the first bike loop, third was Eleonora. Helena was moving quick and put the fastest bike split of the day, but only 22sec faster than Carina, so not enough to come back.
Nicole was still in second place entering T2 but Helena was able to see her, passing from the aid station outside transition. But like for the men, the run split was the key today. Helena opened the throttle and had the best run split of the day, 2 min faster that the second best split, performed by young Sandra Mairhofer from Italy. With this amazing performance on the run the young promising Italian, finished in 4th position, her best place so far in XTERRA.
Carina lost about 4min on the last flat pedestrian section and this is where she lost the race, as Helena never slowed down and passed Carina not far from the finish line.
“I had a very good swim today. The bike had a lot of climb and I was able to push hard passing everybody to take the lead. I kept the lead the whole day, but on the run Hellena was very strong and passed me just 1km before the finish line” said Wasle.
Nicole was out of gas at the last part of the race but managed to finish 3rd in frort of the surprise of the day, Sandra Mairhofer.
“This is my 2nd XTERRA race. I finished 7th in Greece and today I finished 4th. It was a tough race I had a very good bike and run split and I am very satisfied with my performance,” said Mairhofer.
Another two Italians, Bianca Morvillo and Eleonora Peroncini, sprinted to the finish line and had just one-second difference taking the 5th and 6th place for the women.
Like Olivier Marceau for the men, it was another big name in our sport, Renata Bucher from Switzerland, who finished 9th for the women.
For the Euro Tour, we have some changes, and as predicted for the women, Nicole Walters is standing at the top position.
“I cannot remember when it was the last time it was not Helena or Brigitta leading the Euro Tour” said Nico Lebrun. Brigitta is now in second, Helena in 3rd and Carina in 4th. The move of the day is from Sandra Mairhofer who jumped to 7th position.
For the men, our Spain organizer Roger Serrano, even not racing here today, keeps the lead. Maxim Chané, even with another bad day, managed to get some few points and remains second and François Carloni is now 3rd. The Team Tvert gang is coming back with Forissier in 4th and Serrieres in 5th. Ugazio is also now 7th and Xavier Dafflon is also coming back on the ranking in 9th.
Next stop in a week, in Golega, for XTERRA Portugal, where 2017 tour winner, Ruben Ruzafa will start his Euro Tour season.