Arthur Serrieres from France and Brigitta Poor from Hungary won the inaugural XTERRA Romania in Targu Mures, which marked the eleventh stop on the 2018 XTERRA European Tour.
For Serrieres, XTERRA Romania marked his second win of the year following victory in XTERRA Italy, Lake Garda in May. This was Poor’s sixth win of the season following wins at XTERRA Malta, XTERRA Cyprus, XTERRA Portugal, XTERRA Switzerland, and XTERRA France.
The XTERRA European Tour has experienced great weather at every race so far this season, Romania was no exception, with warm sunshine and a non-wetsuit swim in the 28°C degree water but with the dense forest providing the athletes with some shade throughout the rest of the race.
The race started in the beautiful recreation centre "Complexul Weekend" where you can find swimming pools, slides, restaurants, tennis courts, and kids' play parks. The organisers used the large artificial pond for the swim, which included a large grassy area for the perfect first transition (T1) set up. The elites started first with an ITU-style lineup and pontoon dive start for a clean getaway. XTERRA Romania included four elite women and twelve elite men.
On paper, Ben Allen is the best swimmer in the field, but it wasn’t until halfway through the swim that he moved into the lead and started pushing hard.
“When Ben started to push, I jumped on his feet and started to create a gap," said Francois Carloni, "But his pace was a bit too fast and I had to let him go and stay with Arthur Serrieres, Pavel Andreev, Peter Lehmann, and Tomas Kubek for the rest of the swim."
Exiting the water in 14 minutes and 35 seconds, Ben Allen had a 40 second lead over the main chase pack composed of Frenchmen Arthur Serrieres and Francois Carloni, then Russian Pavel Andreev, German Peter Lehmann, and the Slovakian Thomas Kubek.
“I was happy with my swim, and I had everything under control," said Arthur Serrieres. "We were close to Ben and with a good group."
From T1, athletes had a short 4K ride to the combined T2 and finish line area before starting the main 8.5K bike course loop. In total, athletes completed three laps for a total distance of 29.5K. The course is very twisty, with lots of short climbs and descents, making it a world-class, cross-country mountain bike loop.
Going flat out during the short section from the swim, Andreev, Carloni, and Serrieres dropped Lehmann and Kubek, and pulled back some time on Allen. As soon as Allen was caught on the first lap, Carloni used his mountain bike skills to take the lead and put 50 seconds into the group of Allen, Andreev, and Serrieres.
Attempting to twist the knife during the second lap, Carloni put the hammer down and extended his lead to nearly two minutes.
“When François attacked, it was too fast for me, so again I stayed in the group with Pavel and Ben to work together," said Serrieres. "After hearing the time gap on the second lap, I thought that François was smashing us and that to come back for the win will be hard, but we managed not to lose much time on the third lap”
Behind the front group, both Kubek and Lehmann were riding alone, fighting hard to limit their losses. A little bit further back was DJ Cedric Lassonde, who was returning to XTERRA after a few injuries but still hoping to qualify for Maui again.
On the third loop, Carloni began to slow down
“I knew that on this third loop that I would not able to keep pushing like the first two, but this was my only chance to win today," said Carloni. "I had to try, I knew that I needed more than a three-minute lead starting the run to win this race,” said Carloni.
Carloni maintained his rhythm during the third loop to post the fastest bike split of the day in one hour and 25 minutes and racked his bike in T2 with a two-minute advantage on the main group.
On the run, Serrieres was on a mission. After just one loop of this difficult run course, he had already run his way into the lead with Carloni trying to stay on his shoulder. Allen was running in third, about 50 seconds back. Andreev was dropping back and losing time.
Serrieres went on to record the best run split, a full two minutes and 30 seconds faster than the next best to raise his arms as the XTERRA Romania champion. Carloni had just enough energy to keep his second position as a charging Allen crossed the line in third just 24 seconds back.
“I had a bit of difficulty this year, so to podium means its starting to all come together," said Allen, after the race. "I'm happy with my day.”
Andreev also had to work hard to keep his fourth place as Lehmann recorded the second best run split finishing only 13 seconds behind the Russian. Kubek finished sixth, Lassonde was seventh, and Ciprian Balanescu finished eighth.
Elite Women's Race
In the women’s race, Hungary's Brigitta Poor took the lead from the first stroke and kept it until the finish line. Morgane Riou from France followed in second, Poland’s Ania Tomica finished third, and Daria Rogozina of Russia finished fourth.
At the end of the swim, Poor had established a lead of one minute and 45 seconds over Riou, posting a time of 16 minutes and 27 seconds. Third out of the water was Tomica just over three minutes back. The big loser in the swim was Rogozina who lost 6 minutes and 20 seconds to the leader. This was no surprise coming from a cross-country skiing background - she prefers the water frozen!
|XTERRA Romania Elite Men|
|1||Arthur Serrieres , FRA||2:27:03||75||$1 200|
|2||Francois Carloni, FRA||2:29:10||67||$900|
|3||Ben Allen, AUS||2:29:34||61||$700|
|4||Pavel Andreev, RUS||2:30:15||56||$550|
|5||Peter Lehmann, GER||2:30:38||51||$400|
|6||Tomas Kubek, SVK||2:36:58||47|
|8||Ciprian Balanescu, ROU||2:48:10||39|
|9||Krzysztof Kokot, POL||2:54:01||36|
|10||Kovacs Szabolcs, ROU||2:54:32||33|
|11||Chindris Mihail, ROU||3:02:04||30|
|12||Madaras Daniel, ROU||3:54:48||27|
For the women, there were no surprises during the mountain bike. Poor was cruising at the front and continued to build her lead over Riou and the other athletes. Throughout the laps, the gaps between Poor to Riou to Tomica continued to grow. Only Rogozina was able to reduce her deficit and pull back some time. Unsurprisingly Poor posted the best bike split in 1 hour and 39 minutes. Over four minutes later, Riou entered T2 shortly followed by Tomica and Rogozina.
Not content with the fastest swim and bike, Poor also recorded the fastest run split in 53 minutes and 12 seconds. She was never under pressure today and enjoyed her race with strong support from the locals. Hungary has a strong historical connection in this area of Romania and a large part of the population speak Hungarian. She was happy to win again in Targu Mures after last years ETU Cross triathlon championship
“I’m very happy with the result today," said Poor after the race. "My last race was in France, quite a long time ago and my training did not go as well as I wanted the last weeks at home. But in the end, on race day, I finally felt great."
“Knowing Brigitta was so far in front and I had a good gap to Daria behind, I took the run fairly easy to save some energy for a big block of training I have planned for next week," said second-place finisher Riou. "I have some time off from work from now until the XTERRA European Championship in Zittau, so I want to use this time to prepare this big event."
Rogozina posted the second fastest run split and crossed the line in third place, recording her first overall XTERRA podium spot. Tomica finished fourth overall.
|XTERRA Romania Elite Women|
|1||Brigitta Poor, HUN||2:48:47||75||$1 200|
|2||Morgane Riou, FRA||2:55:58||67||$900|
|3||Daria Rogozina, RUS||3:04:47||61||$700|
|4||Ania Tomica, POL||3:16:40||56||$550|
EUROPEAN TOUR STANDINGS
For the men, following their results today in Romania, both Carloni and Serrieres have scored some valuable points. Carloni is now leading the tour with a 68 point lead ahead of Roger Serrano with Serrieres moving into third place, just six points behind Serrano. Lehmann’s consistency is paying off and he moved into fifth place, just five points behind Arthur Forissier.
For the women, Poor remains in second position but closed the gap to Carina Wasle and is now just 69 points behind. Riou is still fifth and Tomica is still sixth, but they gained a lead on the athletes behind them.
With five more races to go in the Tour, including two Gold races, which award extra points and additional prize money to elite athletes, anything is possible for the remainder of the season.
|Elite Men||Elite Women|
|Pos||Name, Country||Points Total||Pos||Name, Country||Points Total|
|1||Francois Carloni, FRA||416||1||Carina Wasle, AUT||600|
|2||Roger Serrano, ESP||348||2||Brigitta Poor, HUN||531|
|3||Arthur Serrieres , FRA||342||3||Helena Karaskova-Erbenova, CZE||424|
|4||Arthur Forissier, FRA||307||4||Nicole Walters, GBR||378|
|5||Peter Lehmann, GER||302||5||Morgane Riou, FRA||296|
|6||Maxim Chane, FRA||268||6||Ania Tomica, POL||233|
|7||Xavier Dafflon, SUI||260||7||Jessica Roberts, GBR||165|
|8||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||250||8||Sandra Mairhofer, ITA||160|
|9||Marcello Ugazio, ITA||250||9||Maud Golsteyn, NED||154|
|10||Rui Dolores, POR||214||10||Renata Bucher, SUI||148|
|11||Geert Lauryssen, BEL||209||11||Eva Garcia Gonzalez, ESP||136|
|12||Bradley Weiss, RSA||149||12||Cecilia Jessen, SWE||128|
|13||Fausto Fognini, ITA||146||13||Diane Luethi, SUI||119|
|14||Doug Hall, GBR||144||14||Penny Slater, AUS||116|
|15||Jan Kubicek, CZE||128||15||Elizabeth Orchard, NZL||112|
|16||Victor Del Corral Morales, ESP||128||16||Bianca Morvillo, ITA||102|
|17||Anthony Pannier, FRA||114||17||Angela Niklaus, SUI||102|
|18||Theo Dupras, FRA||107||18||Diane Lee, GBR||78|
|19||Filippo Rinaldi, ITA||107||19||Lesley Paterson, GBR||75|
|20||Tim Van Daele, BEL||106||20||Ine Couckuyt, BEL||75|
The Tour moves onto XTERRA Poland in Krakow, for race number 12th on Saturday 11th of August.