May 17, 2015 (Golega, Portugal) – Reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and defending ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion Kathrin Mueller of Germany captured the 2nd annual XTERRA Portugal Championship race in Golega on Saturday.
It’s the 10th major XTERRA win in a row for Ruzafa dating back to 2013, and the seventh in eight races on the XTERRA European Tour for Mueller since she won XTERRA Greece last year.
XTERRA European Tour technical director Nico Lebrun was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…
“The weather prediction was for a hot day, and it was! I was happy to be a spectator and taking pictures rather than racing in the heat. Most of the athletes I spoke with after the race said it was one of the hardest challenges they can remember.
The race started at 2pm and the water temperature was a very warm 24°C (75°F) so no wetsuits for anyone.
The swim is a fun one with two 750-meter laps. The fun part is you must scramble up a bank, run onto a pontoon bridge and dive in to start your second lap. Roger Serrano had the fastest swim with Ruzafa back 1’30” and Malta winner Nico Fernandez another 15-seconds behind. For the women it was Kathrin Mueller ahead of our organizers daughter, Anna, by 30″ with Malta winner Brigitta Poor in 3rd.
At the 10K mark on the bike Serrano was still leading but only by about 20 seconds over Francois Carloni, Ruzafa and Fernandez. When it got technical, Carloni was the only man who could follow the World Chap and at that point Ruzafa had the lead he would not relinquish.
Mueller was in command for the women during the bike, and said “When I had the lead I tried not to stress, to just focus on what I am doing. I know I will have no info on who is behind, so I want to just focus on my skills, and stay at 95% just in case and on this really hard, long and technical race, it was important to stay focused on all those descents!”
Poor was hanging in, about 1:30 behind Mueller with Jessica Roberts in 3rd and Helena Erbenova coming.
At the 18K mark it is a repeat of last year with Ruzafa and Carloni leading the race. Serrano was still hanging in about 30 seconds back with Fernandez and Yeray Luxem 4th and 5th. For the women Mueller was still up front, Poor was 2’20” back, and Erbenova looking much stronger than she did in Malaysia and is now up to 3rd with Morgane Riou 4th and Jessica Roberts back to 5th.
The last 10K or so at Portugal is not technical and basically flat. Carloni made a mistake on the last downhill, and explained “Ruben was always stronger coming down, and I had to fight all the time to not lose too much. But the first big mistake and I was out!” he grinned.
Carloni was still 2d into transition but Ruzafa was gone, not to be seen again until the finish line. Carloni hung on to second but Yeray was very close in 3rd. Roger Serrano fell to 4th, Hector Guerra was 5th and Nico Fernandez 6th.
In the women’s race Erbenova was charging and up to 2d place, but Muller had too much of a lead for the Czech Champion. Brigitta is 3rd and did not challenge but hung on to a strong 3rd. Frenchwoman Riou is 4th and Jessica Roberts 5th.
The run was flat but remember the weather. It was super-hot. Full marks to the organizers who immediately put up an extra water station on the run.
The second race of the European season is over and we head to Spain in a few weeks. Some of the athletes who raced in Asia will be on their way to either the U.S. or the European Tour and it will be interesting. Mueller is looking very strong, but Helena seems to be back on form after some long adventure races and young Brigitta Poor is still improving and leading the Championship at this point. For the men, somebody needs to beat Ruzafa. From what we saw today, it will take perfection from one of the many great challengers.
“The first race of the season, because I was not in Malta, is always hard because you don’t know if you will be ready,” said Ruzafa at the awards party. “I had a little injury this winter trying to run faster, using more of my foot, so I was afraid to feel it, but nothing today. I had a good swim and like last year I started with Carloni on the bike. It was very hot, I never knew how far the other guys were so I kept pushing. At the finish line when I waited three minutes to see Carloni I thought if I knew, I should have run slower under this sun.”
Pl Name Final Points
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 2:50:36 75
2 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:54:18 67
3 Yeray Luxem, BEL 2:54:54 61
4 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:55:29 56
5 Hector Guerra, ESP 2:57:21 51
6 Nico Fernandez, FRA 3:00:22 47
7 Tomas Kubek, SVK 3:00:54 43
8 Albert Soley, ESP 3:01:43 39
9 Fabien Combaluzier, FRA 3:03:11 36
10 Jens Roth, GER 3:05:24 33
Also: Llewellyn Holmes (30), Tim Van Daele (27), Henry Sleight (25), Jan Pyott (23), Rob Woestenborghs (21)
Pl Name Final Points
1 Kathrin Mueller, GER 3:21:30 75
2 Helena Erbenova, CZE 3:24:49 67
3 Brigitta Poor, HUN 3:31:01 61
4 Morgane Riou, FRA 3:37:46 56
5 Louise Fox, GBR 3:50:46 51
6 Karin Hansen, SUI 3:53:39 47
7 Sofia Brites, POR 4:32:42 43