Ruzafa, Karaskova win XTERRA Czech

Tuesday 17 July 2018
Ruben Ruzafa and Helena Karaskova-Erbenova captured the 14th annual XTERRA Czech off-road triathlon elite titles in Prachatice on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

It’s the third big win in two weeks for Ruzafa, who won XTERRA France on July 1 and the ITU Cross Tri World Title in Denmark on July 10.  The 33-year-old who lives in Aizarnazabal, Spain, is a three-time XTERRA World Champ and four-time ITU Cross Tri World Champ. He has now won all three XTERRA majors he raced this year and 33 of the 42 XTERRA World Tour events he has competed at in his career.

For Karaskova, the reigning and four-time XTERRA European Tour Champion, the win is her second this season and 29th of her career, and she has now won four of the last five XTERRA majors in her home country of the Czech Republic.

In the men’s elite race Maxim Chane from France was first out of Kristanovicky Lake with a swim time of 17:48, followed by Aussie Ben Allen and Kiwi Sam Osborne about 20-seconds back, then Bradley Weiss, Lukas Kocar, and Hannes Wolpert not far behind.  Ruzafa was out of the water less than two minutes after Chane.

“The hard work Ruben put in during the off-season to improve his swim is rewarding him now, as he’s losing very little time to his opponents,” said XTERRA European director Nicolas Lebrun, who himself won XTERRA Czech five times in his career.

At the 10km mark on the mountain bike Chane, Weiss, and Osborne were riding together up front, Kocar was in fourth and Ruzafa had made up a full-minute and was in fifth.

“It was hard to recover after ITU Worlds in Denmark,” said Ruzafa of Tuesdays’ race.  “I just tried to push a hard during the swim so I wouldn’t be too far behind going into the bike.  I continued to push hard at the beginning of the bike and took the lead halfway.”

By the 19km point on the bike Ruzafa had pulled into the lead and put 40-seconds on the trio of Chane, Weiss, and Osborne.  Kocar was in fifth right behind them, then came Austrian Andreas Silberbauer.

“As they approached this last section of the huge 32km loop the terrain became technical,” explained Lebrun.  “As a result, many changes happened here, but not for Ruben.  “The Boss” managed the rough stuff with sheer grit, speed, and confidence, and posted the fastest bike split of the day.  Behind him, however, Weiss and Osborne got flats and Kocar crashed.  That left Chane as the second man into T2.”

Chane was about 1:20 back, and Weiss, despite the trouble, was just 2:40 back and in a position to chase down Ruzafa.

“Never happy with second place but today I’ll take it, especially after racing ITU just five days ago,” said Weiss. 

Kocar, despite his crash, finished strong to take third place in just his second-ever XTERRA.

Austrian Andreas Silberbauer posted the fastest run split of the day to take the fourth spot, and Karel Zadak finished fifth.  Chane held on for sixth.

In the women’s race Nicole Walters, who was second at ITU Cross Tri Worlds on Tuesday, was not able to start due to injury.  That left Kiwi Samantha Kingsford, winner at XTERRA Albay in June, as the women’s swim leader.

“She had about 1:30 on the rest of the field,” said Lebrun.  “Behind her was quite a compact group with Carina Wasle, Lizzie Orchard, Penny Slater, and Renata Bucher.”

Karaskova, the eventual winner, was nearly four-minutes behind Kingsford coming out of the water but today’s race wasn’t won in the swim.

“At the halfway point on the bike I thought we’d see Kingsford still with the lead, but she was running on empty from Tuesday’s race in Denmark like many others," said Lebrun.  "Instead, it was the ‘Swiss Miss’ Renata Bucher pushing some big watts on the bike and in the lead.  Orchard was in second, and Karaskova moved very quickly through the field into third, with Wasle in fourth.”

Bucher, who won this race three times before, took the lead into the run but Karaskova, powered by her home country fans lining the streets and the forest trails, posted the fastest bike split of the day and was in full pursuit on the run.

“Karaskova took the lead in the first loop of the run, but Wasle was busy posting the fastest run split of the day to make it a very exciting finish,” said Lebrun.

At the line, Karaskova took the tape in 2:50:18, with Wasle just 21-seconds behind, and Lizzie Orchard in third three-minutes later.

“I’m really happy to win this race at home,” said Karaskova.  “It got really tight there at the end, so it was great to manage the win.  Now, I’m really tired.”

As for Wasle, she said, “Today was really hard for me.  I didn’t recover very well from Tuesday, so I tried not to push too hard on the swim and bike, just to go my own rhythm.

It was the eighth podium in eight XTERRA European Tour races for Wasle, who still leads the XTERRA European Tour standings after nine of 16 events.

For Orchard, just getting across the line was a breakthrough moment for her season.

“I felt good in the swim, the bike was solid, and then on the run I started strong but faded a little towards the end, but hey, it’s the first completed race of the season this year for me so a good place to start,” said Orchard, who crashed at XTERRA Belgium in her season debut.

Bucher held on to finish in fourth, and Bianca Morvilla from Italy finished fifth.

ELITE MALE:
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 02:22:18
2 Bradley Weiss, RSA 02:25:49
3 Lukas Kocar, CZE 02:26:22
4 Andreas Silberbauer, AUT 02:26:27
5 Karel Zadak, CZE 02:26:35

ELITE FEMALE:
1 Helena Karaskova, CZE 02:50:18
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 02:50:39
3 Elizabeth Orchard, NZL 02:54:24
4 Renata Bucher, SUI 02:55:49
5 Bianca Morvillo, ITA 02:59:08
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