Ruzafa, Karaskova win XTERRA Italy-Scanno

Monday 22 July 2019
Ruben Ruzafa and Helena Karaskova captured the seventh annual XTERRA Italy Scanno off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful day in Lake Scanno and the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

For Ruzaffa, it was the first XTERRA win for this season after finishing third in France early this month and the second major title this year after winning the ETU Cross Triathlon Championship in June. For Karaskova, a four-time XTERRA European Tour Champion, the victory was the 32nd of her career and second this season after winning XTERRA Denmark in June.

In the men’s elite race, Maxim Chane was first out of the water followed by Ruzafa together with Doug Hall 30 sec back. Francois Carloni had a great swim and was just a further five seconds behind the duo with local favorite Filippo Rinaldi trailing 30 seconds behind Carloni.

Once on the bike Ruzafa took charge and was all by himself when they reached the beautiful village of Scanno for the second time before starting the infamous long climb up to the ski station. Chane was holding second 43sec back. Rui Dolores had ridden up to the leaders to join Francois Carloni where the pair were 40 seconds behind the young frenchman. Rinaldi was losing time and had dropped to two minutes and 10 seconds behind Ruzafa. Fellow Italian Filippo Barazzuol had moved up to sixth place, one minute behind Rinaldi. The big mover was mountain bike specialist Xavier Dafflon already in 8th place, just four minutes behind the leader.

At the last technical downhill, Ruzafa was still clear in the lead, now chased by Dafflon who had cut the gap to just two minutes and 40 seconds!. Behind him Carloni had made a move on Dolores,  the European tour leader by 20 seconds heading into the transition area.

Ruzafa started the run with a strong pace but Daflon was closing the gap at every kilometer and the gap was down to 60seconds at the fifth kilometer mark. Barrazuol was now running alongside Carloni in third and fourth place respectively with Dolores now back in fifth.

Ruzafa was able to respond and held off Dafflon by 57 seconds to win the race with a time of 2:52:20. Barazzuol finished third, Carloni fourth and Dolores finished fifth. Xavier Jove was sixth and Chane seventh.

“Being close to the lead exiting the water makes my races a little bit easier,” said Ruzafa. “I think Maxim didn't push too hard in the swim. I was only 30" back and able to take the lead quickly was very good. I felt strong and was able to manage my pace. But I was never confident of the win, especially when Xavier was less than 2 minutes behind me starting the run. I saw him not far behind in the long climb on the back of the village and knew I had a gap but had to keep pushing. Only during the last kilometer along the lake I was able to relax knowing that I will win. After ITU worlds in Pontevedra I took some rest and now I'm happy to see that I'm back in good shape, right in time for the second big goal in Czech in two weeks.”

Elite Men Results
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 2:52:21
2 Xavier Dafflon, SUI 2:53:18
3 Filippo Barazzuol, ITA 2:58:03
4 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:58:59
5 Rui Dolores, PRT 3:02:09

In the women’s elite race Maria Calleja from Spain was first out of the water with Pavlina Vargova in second place, some 48seconds back. Italy’s Sandra Mairhofer was third, a further 15 seconds back. One minute after Mairhofer, was a big group of contenders including Helena Karaskova, last year’s winner Eva Garcia Gonzalez, Swiss Champion Ladina Buss and Anna Tomica.

15 kilometers into the bike, at the beautiful village of Scanno, Karaskova, who was was already in the lead and was looking really strong. Mairhofer and Buss were riding together in second/third, one minute and 10 seconds behind the leader. 2018 Winner Garcia and Calleja were two minutes back in fourth and fifth place with the young Italian Matilde Bolzan just 15 seconds behind the Spanish duo.

Starting the last downhill, Karaskova had built her lead to two minutes and 45 seconds over Mairhofer who was now riding alone in second place. Buss was in third almost five minutes behind the lead. Bolzan had moved up to fourth another minute back. Garcia had pulled away from her countrymate into fifth place with Caleleja loosing two minutes in sixth.

“I love this place, I love the people and the course,” said Mairhofer. “I am very happy with my second place. I’ve improved on last year when I was third, so this is great for me. I was able to ride my own race, keep my position and finish strong”

At the start of the run, Karaskova was more than three minutes ahead of Marihofer. Bolzan had made use of her technical riding skills to make up a minute on the front of the race to enter transition third. At the 5K mark of the run nothing changed for the first 2 places but strong runner Gonzalez was moving fast, passing Buss and had closed the gap to Bolzan to just 60secs.

“It was a really hard day,” said Karaskova. “I took the lead early on the bike and never looked back! I kept pushing all the way, I enjoyed the bike section but the run was tough. I am very happy with my victory in Scanno”

Karaskova was unstoppable today and crossed the finish line first with a time of 3:24:26, 5 minutes ahead of a hard earned second place by Mairhofer. Last year’s winner Gonzalez continued her fantastic run to finish third with Bolzan finishing fourth. Buss was fifth, Calleja sixth and Tomica seventh.

“I am very happy finishing third here today,” said Garcia. “I lost some time during the big climb on the bike but I am a fast runner and was able to catch those in front of me on the run and secure a place on the podium.”

Elite Women
1 Helena Karaskova-Erbenova, CZE 3:24:27
2 Sandra Mairhofer, ITA 3:29:36
3 Eva Garcia Gonzalez, ESP 3:32:39
4 Matilde Bolzan, ITA 3:34:11
5 Ladina Buss, SUI 3:37:43
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