XTERRA European Champ, Kiwi Sam Osborne second
Bradley Weiss from South Africa and Brigitta Poor from Hungary captured the XTERRA European Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful but hot, dry, and dusty day in Zittau, Germany on Saturday, August 18, 2018.
It’s the second year in a row Weiss and Poor have claimed the European titles (last year they did at XTERRA Denmark). For Weiss, the reigning XTERRA World, Asia-Pacific, and European Champion, the victory is his second in as many weeks and fourth on the year. For Poor, the win is her seventh out of nine races on the XTERRA European Tour this year.
The event combined a 1.5K swim, 36K single lap marathon style mountain bike leg and a flat and fast 10K trail run.
In the men’s elite race Germany’s Jens Roth was first out of the water in 17:25, roughly 30-seconds ahead of the race favorites including Roger Serrano from Spain, Sam Osborne from New Zealand, and Weiss.
“As soon as we started the swim, the first strokes were easy, and I knew it was going to be a relaxed swim,” said Serrano. “There was no reason to kill myself trying to follow Jens Roth when there were some faster swimmers to do it for me.”
Out onto the mountain bike a large group formed quickly consisting of Osborne, Max Chané from France, Matteo Bozzato of Italy, Will Crudington from the UK, Roth, and Serrano. Weiss erased his swim deficit quickly and then took over.
“Brad came across to us really early, and as soon as he did he splintered the group to pieces,” exclaimed Osborne, who has become all too familiar with the power Weiss pushes on the bike. “I got dropped after a couple of hills and felt like I lost a lot of time early on. I decided to pace it, drop back, and ride with François Carloni and limit my losses.”
The only man who could handle the pace of Weiss was Serrano, and the two worked together to build a lead over the chase pack. (Of note: the fastest bike split today belonged to Xavier Dafflon from Switzerland who posted a 1:30:38).
“I was so glad for Roger’s company on that bike, as riding this course by yourself is really hard,” said Weiss. “We worked together well and kept the pace high the whole time.”
The two entered the bike-to-run transition together with about 90-seconds on Osborne, “which made me a little nervous because I know how fast he is running right now,” said Weiss.
Indeed, Osborne and Chané were next into transition and in hot pursuit, with Carloni not far behind.
Weiss, however, could not be caught.
“My goals changed in the last two years to really focus on the big XTERRA races,” said Weiss. “The small races are fun, but my big targets are the continental championships. Next up is the XTERRA Pan American Championships in the U.S., and it’ll be really hard to win there next month against the likes of Josiah Middaugh and Mauricio Mendez, but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Weiss was right about Osborne running fast, as he posted the best split of the day in 40:31 and passed Serrano to move into second-place.
“After a tough bike, I had to see what I could salvage on the run course,” said Serrano. “I ended up moving up to second which I was not expecting. It’s been a long season, so I’m looking forward to some rest before XTERRA Denmark and the final training block leading into Maui.”
Serrano held on for third, and after the race said, “I have been busy with organizing XTERRA racing in Spain, so I was certain that my run was not going to be good enough for a podium today. When I finished 3rd, I was very happy and maybe now I should think about racing in Maui, perhaps with some better training I could fight for a podium spot there as well.”
Olly Shaw from New Zealand had a great day of his own to finish in fourth, and XTERRA European Tour points leader Carloni finished in fifth.
TOP 15 ELITE MEN
Pos Name, NAT Time Points
1 Bradley Weiss, RSA 2:32:34 100
2 Sam Osborne, NZL 2:34:40 90
3 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:35:30 82
4 Olly Shaw, NZL 2:35:32 75
5 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:37:06 69
6 Karel Zadak, CZE 2:37:50 63
7 Xavier Dafflon, SUI 2:38:00 58
8 Maxim Chane, FRA 2:39:30 53
9 Rui Dolores, POR 2:40:16 49
10 Lukas Kocar, CZE 2:40:59 45
11 Malte Plappert, GER 2:43:57 41
12 Dominik Wychera, AUT 2:44:01 37
13 Jan Francke, CZE 2:44:08 34
14 Will Crudgington, GBR 2:44:13 31
15 Peter Lehmann, GER 2:45:46 28
In the women’s elite race Nicole Walters from the UK led the charge out of the water with a 20:31 swim split, about 40-seconds better than Poor. Carina Wasle from Austria and Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand were about 1:15 back from the lead, and Helena Karaskova from the Czech Republic was 3:30 behind.
“I had a really good swim today,” exclaimed Karaskova, the four-time XTERRA European Tour champion who announced her pending retirement from elite racing earlier this week. “It was nice to hear I was only three minutes from the front but as soon as I started cycling I could feel that I didn’t have the best legs, so I really focused on making up some good time on the downhills.”
While Karaskova was making her way through the field, Poor had made her move to the front of the race by the 4K mark on the bike.
“I caught Nicole early on the bike, but she stayed strong and we rode together to the top of the big climb,” said Poor. “That is where I attacked and rode really hard over the top to move into the lead.”
Once she opened a gap, Poor pushed hard to build a lead heading into the run.
At the 11K mark on the bike Walters was still in second, followed closely by Wasle and Orchard.
“I felt okay on the bike,” said Wasle, the XTERRA European Tour points leader. “I was alone for a long time which made it difficult to know how I was going, but I did good on the climbs which surprised me as my legs felt empty.”
Entering T2 with the fastest bike split of the day, a 1:46:54, Poor had a three-minute lead on Wasle and four-minutes on Karaskova.
“I felt really bad this morning, I felt a bit sick and didn’t sleep very well,” said Poor. “I knew my fitness was really good and was worried I wouldn’t be able to show what I know I am capable of today. In the end, I just focused on my race and everything went well, so I’m so happy to win again and be the European Champion.”
Karaskova produced a fantastic run to overtake Wasle and finish 2nd, a proper effort for what she says was her final race.
“For now, this will have been my last XTERRA,” said Karaskova. “My body is tired and it’s time to focus on family and helping XTERRA grow in the Czech Republic.”
As for Wasle, she said she was satisfied with third.
“By the end of the run when Helena passed me I was so hot, I was overheating and cramping, so I could not respond when she came past,” explained Wasle. “After a quick trip to the medical tent I’m happy to be on the podium again and look forward to racing XTERRA Finland next week.”
Lizzie Orchard finished fourth, Eva Garcia Gonzales was fifth, and Loanne Duvoisin posted the fastest run of the day (46:04) to finish in the top 10.
While Weiss and Poor continue to shine, the biggest star of the day may have been Zittau itself. There were huge crowds, loud music, and of course great food and drink which made for a very special European Championship race day.
TOP 15 ELITE WOMEN
Pos Name, NAT Time Points
1 Brigitta Poor, HUN 2:57:11 100
2 Helena Karaskova, CZE 3:00:57 90
3 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:01:39 82
4 Elizabeth Orchard, NZL 3:02:59 75
5 Eva Garcia Gonzalez, ESP 3:04:52 69
6 Sandra Mairhofer, ITA 3:07:09 63
7 Nicole Walters, GBR 3:08:16 58
8 Bianca Morvillo, ITA 3:09:05 53
9 Maria Doring, GER 3:11:02 49
10 Loanne Duvoisin, SUI 3:11:12 45
11 Morgane Riou, FRA 3:12:19 41
12 Daria Rogozina, RUS 3:13:51 37
13 Penny Slater, AUS 3:14:57 34
14 Bianca Reitwiessner, GER 3:17:32 31
15 Angela Niklaus, SUI 3:18:07 28