Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and Brigitta Poor from Hungary captured the 12th annual XTERRA France off-road triathlon elite titles at the beautiful setting of Lac de Longemer in Xonrupt on Sunday afternoon, July 1, 2018.
This win is the fifth in a row for Ruzafa in France and his second on the XTERRA European Tour this season, and for Poor, her fifth win in six races in Europe this year.
XTERRA European director Nico Lebrun was on site to take in all action and brings us this report…
In my pre-race preview I asked who can beat Ruben Ruzafa on this course? Well, today the three-time XTERRA World Champion proved no one can. And he has won here in every type of condition possible. Last year it was wet and muddy, but this year it was completely dry and he showed sheer class with a dominant display of superb bike handling skills on a technical course that allowed him to get a big lead.
In the elite men’s race the day started out as usual, with Jens Roth first out of the water followed by Maxim Chane. In third, 1:20 back was the current XTERRA World Champion Bradley Weiss from South Africa. In his first race of the season in Europe, all eyes were expectantly on him, and his presence in the race brought much excitement and stature. Following Weiss out of the water was a strong group of athletes including ITU Cross Tri World Champ Francisco Serrano from Mexico, Ruzafa, Francois Carloni, Arthur Serrieres, Arthur Forissier, and Rui Dolores.
Ruzafa exited the water only two minutes behind Roth and took the lead on the bike after just 8km of the first loop. Weiss tried to stay with him but couldn’t hang onto his blistering pace.
At the end of that first loop Ruzafa was leading by more than two minutes, with Roth in second, followed by a pack including Chane, Carloni, Forissier, Weiss and Serrano.
On the second loop Ruzafa added to his lead while things started to change in the large group behind him. Chane, Roth and Serrano were unable to follow the pace Forissier and Weiss were producing, then just a little further back was Serrieres, who had the difficult task of trying to bridge the gap all on his own.
Ruzafa’s incredible bike leg performance was more than four minutes faster than any other rider and he left T2 to start the run with a healthy lead. Meanwhile, Forissier was looking strong in second, Weiss started the run in the third position and Serrieres was now surging through the field from behind and maybe a little too fast!
After the second loop of the run, Ruzafa had a very healthy 4:36 lead ahead of the others and by this stage, everybody knew who was going to be the winner of the day. Following the Spaniard, Forissier was able to keep his second place after a solid run and then behind him, Weiss and Serrieres were very busy battling it out for the all-important third step on the podium.
“I came here well prepared and I am glad that my training proved to be good,” said Ruzafa. “I am very happy with my fifth win here at XTERRA France.”
So to wrap up the men’s report, the final positions at the finish line were Ruzafa wins it in a time of 2hrs 56’06”, then Forissier second, at 4 min 36 and a very fine 3rd for Weiss at 6 min 57, who’d had a superb 2nd run loop to overhaul a fading Arthur Serrieres.
“I was really happy with my swim today but on the bike Ruben caught me very soon and I didn’t have the power to stay with him,” said Weiss. “My legs were feeling a little shaky to start the run. At about the 5km mark Serrieres took the third position but then the body felt good and I was able to catch him again and keep 3rd. Pretty happy with the fight here today,” said Weiss.
Men XTERRA France Results
|1||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||2:56:06||100||$2 300|
|2||Arthur Forissier, FRA||3:00:42||90||$1 700|
|3||Bradley Weiss, RSA||3:03:03||82||$700|
|4||Arthur Serrieres , FRA||3:03:27||75||$800|
|5||Francois Carloni, FRA||3:04:57||69||$650|
|6||Francisco Serrano, MEX||3:07:15||63||$450|
|7||Geert Lauryssen, BEL||3:09:46||58||$400|
|8||Maxim Chane, FRA||3:10:30||53|
|9||Fausto Fognini, ITA||3:10:39||49|
|10||Jens Roth, GER||3:10:43||45|
|11||Corentin Duclos, FRA||3:11:05||41|
|12||Xavier Jove Riart, ESP||3:12:57||37|
|13||Dominik Soweija, GER||3:13:05||34|
|14||Christophe Betard, FRA||3:13:58||31|
|15||Rui Dolores, POR||3:14:39||28|
Next up was the very strong field of elite women. With a fantastic line up of top contenders, the race was set up to be just as exciting as the men’s. As the start was signaled, the women set off and soon the gaps would start to appear. With a fabulous swim, Poor was out of the water first with Carina Wasle and Lesley Paterson following less than 30 seconds behind and then Penny Slater in 4th place just behind them.
As in most of our races ,Helena Karaskova-Erbenova lost the usual amount of time on the swim, but we all knew what she was able to do to make up time during the rest of the race.
Poor proved today that she is fast becoming one of the strongest and most complete athletes in the elite women’s field as she kept the lead all the way to T2 with a superb show of mountain biking skills and endurance. She steadily made time up on her contenders, and slowly gained a very sizeable gap. After the first loop Poor was already 1:50 ahead of Paterson but Wasle, who loves this type of terrain, was having another fabulous race and was not more than 10 seconds behind her. By now Paterson was just ahead of Wasle, but Wasle made her move to get passed her on the start of the 2nd bike loop, and Paterson would not challenge her again. Despite these two going very hard, Karaskova was now in full gas mode and slowly moving in on them both from behind.
Back at the head of the race, Poor was still looking strong and confident coming out of T2 in the lead and was now two minutes clear ahead of Wasle, but a very fast moving Karaskova, who had by this time passed Paterson just before entering transition, had now moved up to a very well deserved 3rd. As both Wasle and Karaskova are incredibly strong on this type of course, this was going to be a very close fight for the second position on the podium.
As in the men’s race, after the second loop on the run it was more than clear that Poor was going to capture her first win at XTERRA France. With a fabulous finishing time of 3hr 25’01 she proved that this year she is unstoppable and in the best form so far of her career.
“It is like a dream, I cannot believe it. It is one of the biggest races of XTERRA in the world and I was able to win it,” said Poor.
Behind Poor was an exciting battle for second place. Eventually, Karaskova would come through to take a very fine and well deserved 2nd spot on the podium. Wasle once again showed her true grit and determination and produced yet another fabulous race to make it seven podiums in seven races on the Euro Tour to finish an exhausted, but fantastic 3rd place.
“I had a very good swim and was able to stay with the group. On the bike I was not able to push hard on the uphill but was really good on the downhill and the flat part. I was able to pass Lesley on the end of the bike and this gave me a lot of confidence,” said Karaskova.
Women XTERRA France Results
|1||Brigitta Poor, HUN||3:27:01||100||$2 300|
|2||Helena Karaskova, CZE||3:30:23||90||$1 700|
|3||Carina Wasle, AUT||3:33:00||82||$700|
|4||Lesley Paterson, GBR||3:33:45||75||$800|
|5||Penny Slater, AUS||3:49:36||69||$650|
|6||Angela Niklaus, SUI||3:51:58||63||$450|
|7||Jessica Roberts, GBR||4:01:19||58||$400|
|8||Ania Tomica, POL||4:01:32||53|
|9||Johandri Leicester, ZAF||4:17:44||49|
European Tour Standings
In the XTERRA European Tour elite standings Arthur Forissier is now in first place, ahead of François Carloni. Serrano dropped to 3rd as he was not racing today. Serrieres is also moving up, now in 4th, with Chane in 5th, Lehmann in 6th, Lauryssen in 7th, Dafflon with another mechanical dropped to 8th with no points today. Ugazio is 9th and Dolores with the last points of the day, being 15th, stayed in the top 10.
For the women Wasle remains our tour leader but now with only 10 points on Poor. Nicole Walters was not in Xonrupt but remains in the third spot with Karaskova in 4th after gaining points today. Morgane Riou, also not racing in France today, is still 5th, Jessica Roberts moved up to 6th and Golsteyn is now 7th. Ania Tomica who scored points today is now 8th, Jessen wasn’t present, but stayed in 9th, and same for Diane Luethi who kept her place in the top ten.
Now those 20 athletes will be able to get an invitation to race for free in the last races of the Euro Tour. The rule says they have only this week to register with all those races and use this advantage.
XTERRA European Tour after 8 races - Elite Women
|1||Carina Wasle, AUT||466|
|2||Brigitta Poor, HUN||456|
|3||Nicole Walters, GBR||378|
|4||Helena Karaskova, CZE||349|
|5||Morgane Riou, FRA||229|
|6||Jessica Roberts, GBR||165|
|7||Maud Golsteyn, NED||154|
|8||Ania Tomica, POL||134|
|9||Cecilia Jessen, SWE||128|
|10||Diane Luethi, SUI||119|
|11||Angela Niklaus, SUI||102|
|12||Sandra Mairhofer, ITA||99|
|13||Diane Lee, GBR||78|
|14||Lesley Paterson, GBR||75|
|15||Ine Couckuyt, BEL||75|
|16||Penny Slater, AUS||69|
|17||Barbara Riveros, CHL||67|
|18||Eva Garcia Gonzalez, ESP||61|
|19||Aina Picas, ESP||56|
|20||Bianca Morvillo, ITA||51|
XTERRA European Tour after 8 races - Elite Men
|1||Arthur Forissier, FRA||307|
|2||Francois Carloni, FRA||298|
|3||Roger Serrano, ESP||273|
|4||Arthur Serrieres , FRA||267|
|5||Maxim Chane, FRA||221|
|6||Peter Lehmann, GER||212|
|7||Geert Lauryssen, BEL||209|
|8||Xavier Dafflon, SUI||193|
|9||Marcello Ugazio, ITA||189|
|10||Rui Dolores, POR||175|
|11||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||175|
|12||Victor Del Corral, ESP||128|
|13||Anthony Pannier, FRA||114|
|14||Fausto Fognini, ITA||113|
|15||Doug Hall, GBR||111|
|16||Theo Dupras, FRA||107|
|17||Tim Van Daele, BEL||106|
|18||Yeray Luxem, BEL||94|
|19||Jan Kubicek, CZE||92|
|20||Clement Briere, FRA||85|
We had another fantastic day here in “Les Vosges” for this 12th edition of XTERRA France, and our ninth year in Xonrupt. With perfect weather, everybody present was able to enjoy the beautiful set up the Charbonnier’s family put on again, with a team of about 300 volunteers for around 2200 athletes during the weekend. We started with the children’s race and a swim run on Saturday afternoon, then today was the Sprint this morning and the Full distance in the afternoon.
Next stop, XTERRA Czech July in Prachatice.