Ruzafa, Erbenova win XTERRA Spain
Tarragona – Ruben Ruzafa and Helena Erbenova captured the elite titles on a hot day at XTERRA Spain, on a new course in Tarragona.
This is the second win in a row for each of them on the XTERRA European Tour after they both took home victories at XTERRA Greece on April 30th.
Three-time XTERRA World Champion and two-time European Tour Champion Ruzafa won on his home turf today in 2:23:50, coming in five minutes ahead of runner up and fellow Spaniard Xavier Jove who finished in 2:29:09. Frenchman Arthur Serrieres was a close third in 2:29:52.
“It was great,” said Ruzafa. “I had a good swim and I tried pushing the bike, and on the run, I tried keeping the gap. I’m really happy to win here in Spain. Now it’s time to enjoy."
Photo - Xterra Spain
German Jens Roth was first out of the water, followed by Ruzafa and young German, Maximilian Sasserath.
Ruzafa took the lead on the second lap of the bike course, and never looked back.
Runner-up Xavier Jove' who finished nearly five minutes behind Ruzafa boasted. "It was a great day for me. Now we have so many strong Spanish guys with Ruben, Roger and me. This is my best XTERRA ever."
“It was a tough race, it was so hot,” said Roth, disappointed that no Germans were on the podium. “I would have liked to have followed Ruben on the bike when he caught me, but I wasn’t able to. But I’m thankful to be here in Spain and I'm looking forward to the next race.”
“It was a great day in Spain today, and Roger Serrano did a fantastic job for his debut,” added European Tour marketing director Kostas Kourmargialis. “Ruzafa, Jove, and Serrieres were strong as was Jens Roth. The young German, Maximilian Sasserath also raced well today. He narrowly missed the podium but he cemented his spot as one to watch after his second place finish at XTERRA Malta in April.
In the women’s race, it was a battle between reigning European Tour Champion Brigitta Poor of Hungary and Czech Helena Erbenova. The pair have now faced each three times this year and have begun to put some daylight between themselves and the pack of early tour contenders.
Today, Erbenova crossed the line in 2:48:48 for 16th place overall. Poor came through in 2:54:51 and Spain’s Sara Bonilla was third in 3:01:12 after passing Germany’s Kathrin Muller on the run. Muller was fourth in 3:01:54.
Spaniard Sara Bonilla was first out of the water followed by German Pauline Sasserath, Hungary’s Brigitta Poor and Kathrin Mueller of Germany.
Poor and Erbenova then pushed hard on the bike and reeled in the others with Poor eventually holding nearly a four minute lead on Erbenova until she crashed near the middle of the second loop.
Erbenova pulled ahead and widened her lead, making it look easy on the run as she floated to the finish line.
“I’m disappointed to have crashed,” said Poor. “But I’m happy nothing is broken and I could finish the race in second place.”
Sara Bonilla added, "I was so surprised to hear I am third. I think I am fourth or fifth. Now I must think to go to Maui."
XTERRA World Tour managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…
The return of XTERRA to Spain is complete. Over 400 men and women athletes enjoyed a great day and some epic trails in a fabulous setting.
Because both T1 and T2 are on public property we did not finish T2 until 10 last night. This morning the crew took over the waterfront in Tarragona and created T1 from what is normally the street that runs past their beach. But it all happened and we were ready to race well before the scheduled 10am start time.
The sea was perfect. Just a few, small waves but basically flat. Pros started first with age groupers three minutes later. With a broad, white beach everyone came out of the water for a short beach run to start their second lap. Literally a thousand spectators lined the sea walls and the joint was jumping.
Jens Roth was far out in front after the swim and led easily onto the streets. The first 2K of the bike are done on city streets. Riders then go up and down a ramp and ride on broad, flat trails alongside the river before arriving at the Pont Des Diablo park. Then the fun begins.
Ruben Ruzafa had an excellent swim and while Roth led into the park, the 3-time World Champ was firmly in second with young Max Sasserath just behind in third.
It was a bunch and quite exciting as Arthur Serrieres, Jan Pyott, Peter Lehmann came splashing through the tunnel under the highway and up into the forest.
At the end of the first bike lap Ruben had complete control with Roth in second. The surprise was Xavier Jove’ from Spain up into 3rd. Xavier has raced with us for a few years and always was quick, but this was a big step up.
Poor Serrieres had his derailleur fail on him with a few K left on the bike and got passed by Pyott and Max to complete the top 6 coming into T2.
Spanish pro Sara Bonilla led first year pro Anna Pauline Sasserath and our current points leader Brigitta Poor from the water, but our Hungarian woman passed them just as they headed out into the woods at the park.
By the end of the first big loop Poor had a good lead but it was Czech Helena Erbenova who was second and riding very well.
"I was feeling strong today, and even with my hard tail bike, I was surprise to ride that fast” said a clearly hurting Brigitta. “But in a technical single track I went down hard and hit my knee and few ribs, I had a hard time to get back on my bike and it became hard to breath, another race started for me".
Our old friend and former champion Kathrin Muller is back racing after a few years away and was doing well in 3rd but losing ground. Erbenova caught Brigitta and led easily onto the run.
Ruzafa had about three minutes on Roth but did not look confident. The run here is very hard with a signature huge hill that runners go both ways on. The day was getting hotter and the sun was taking its toll on our athletes.
Xavier Jove’ was making his move and passed Roth into 2nd. Serrieres also moved up passing Pyott and Sasserath to go into 4th and his race was not finished.
In a similar story, Sara Bonilla was tearing up the run course and had moved up into 4th. At the end Bonilla and Serrieres both ran their way into 3rd.
Despite the few setbacks, it was a super event. The recovery area had free, cold beer and a fabulous Catalan pasta dish and even a vegetarian variation. There were nothing but smiles in the picnic area.
Tarragona has a brilliant future. Everyone loved the bike course “it was technical but really fun” was what we heard exclusively.