Reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain won his fifth XTERRA European Tour championship race in as many tries this season with another dominating performance, this time at the XTERRA Italy Championship in Scanno.
Back in 2008 a then 29-year-old Ruzafa, hailing from Malaga, Spain, shocked the XTERRA planet when he won the World Championship in his first try. There’s no such surprise anymore. Last year when he retired from world cup mountain biking (where he collected four national titles in cross country and marathon for Spain) to focus on XTERRA he won XTERRA Spain, was 2nd at France, won Germany, and was third at the USA Championship. Since then he’s been perfect, winning Worlds in 2013, and Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, and Italy this year. Six straight and 8-of-10 in the last 13 months.
Today in Italy he took the tape in 2:45:23, more than four minutes ahead of the speedy Braden Currie (who just won XTERRA Sweden) and five minutes ahead of four-time XTERRA World Champion and reigning/3x ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz.
“The day’s rain made the steep downhills here treacherous,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. “The atmosphere today was electric despite dark, ominous clouds, and the racing was fast and furious in the village to the delight of the spectators.”
Before running out to the awards party Nicholas commented on how dominant Ruzafa looked, how the Caveman looked like a kid running around having fun, that Currie didn’t feel well in the morning but still ran everybody down, and that Francois Carloni (XTERRA Greece Champ) is the “real deal.”
“Big climbs, fun, slippery, wet downhills. Adventure to da max!” posted Stoltz to his social media accounts after the race.
Those slippery downhills were the down fall of many, including XTERRA favorite Cedric Lassonde who suffered his “third big crash in three months,’ but still ran his way into 8th overall.
“The plan was merely to go around the course in one piece,” wrote Lassonde. “As I couldn’t recce the course I thought I’d push hard on the 1st hill (40min of non-stop climbing from T1) then be cautious on the downhills as it’s been raining non-stop here and I’d been told the trails were treacherous. I followed the plan up to the top, legs were firing…then got carried away and sure enough off the bike I flew and crashed heavily…A bit too predictable me think…Broken nose and broken front derailleur was the result. Took me a while to recover from that, even though I ran rather well and finished 8th overall. On my way to hospital now, a tradition I’d love to see ending soon. It’s the year of broken bones for me, but somehow I’m still standing. Gotta be the last one though!”
Top 5 Elite Men
|1||Ruben Ruzafa, ESP||2:45:23|
|2||Braden Currie, NZL||2:49:57|
|3||Conrad Stoltz, RSA||2:50:39|
|4||Francois Carloni, FRA||2:51:23|
|5||Asa Shaw, GBR||2:53:45|
ERBENOVA TIGHTENS CHASE IN EUROPEAN TOUR
Reigning and two-time XTERRA European Tour Champion Helena Erbenova of the Czech Republic won her third race of the season and second in a row to pull within 20 points of Kathrin Mueller of Germany who sits atop the Euro Tour standings after seven of 11 events.
“Erbenova is so tough,” said Nicholas. “She was minutes behind Mueller but simply would not give up.”
Her winning time of 3:18:38 was almost five minutes better than runner-up Carina Wasle who finished just 13-seconds in front of 3rd place finisher Kathrin Mueller.
« What a day, the rain made the course tough and a big challenge, » said Wasle. « XTERRA never is easy. Now big smile and very happy with 2nd. Congrats to Helena, who take the win and Kathrin for 3rd. »
Renata Bucher and Brigitta Poor finished 4th and 5th, respectively. It’s the fourth straight top 4 finish for the « Swiss Miss » since XTERRA Switzerland.
Top 5 Elite Women
|1||Helena Erbenova, CZE||3:18:38|
|2||Carina Wasle, AUT||3:23:04|
|3||Kathrin Mueller, GER||3:23:17|
|4||Renata Bucher, SUI||3:29:52|
|5||Brigitta Poor, HUN||3:32:20|