Arthur Serrieres from France and Helena Karaskova-Erbenova from the Czech Republic, captured the inaugural XTERRA Italy-Lake Garda elite titles on a beautiful but hot day in Toscolano Maderno on Sunday, May 27, 2018.
It’s the first career XTERRA World Tour win for Serrieres and the first for Karaskova this year. XTERRA European Tour Director Nicolas Lebrun and Konstantinos Koumargialis our marketing Director in Europe, were on hand to take in all the action and brings us this report…
Lake Garda and Toscolano Maderno in particular, is not new to off road triathlon, as the area was hosting the X Gardaman cross triathlon event the last few years. With the efforts of our XTERRA Italian Organizer Massimo Massacesi, who is working hard to expand our sport in Italy, this race became part of our European Tour and proved to be a great success as the inaugural XTERRA event in Northern Italy.
The shore of this famous lake is offering great facilities for an event. Calm, warm water and a beautiful grassy area just next to the beach for the race village and finish line, what else can you ask for the perfect set up. This place is not only a weekend and vacation area for the Italians. The excellent weather conditions, the great food, the lake and the mountains around it, are attracting thousands of people from all over the world for any kind of sport and activities all year long.
Today’s race was the fourth stop in our 2018 European tour after a three weeks break, following XTERRA Greece.
For Serrieres, this is his first big XTERRA win. We knew that this young French was improving a lot after some great results last year and we knew we were about to see him at the top places of the podium very soon. He was sick in his last race in Greece, where his team mate Forissier took the win, but today he got the result he wanted.
First out of the water, was the usual suspect Jens Roth, with 1min lead. Maxim Chané and the big pack was about 2min back with both Arthurs in it. The Team Tvert athletes, Serrieres and Forissier, put the hammer down and working together, left everybody behind during both bike loops!
The bike here in Toscolano Maderno continues the reputation of the Italian race in Scanno, bringing us another tough course of two 16km loops. It has some never ending steep climbs and very technical downhills where both power and technical skills are important.
The couple collaborated perfectly until T2 and it was only Xavier Dafflon who rode few seconds faster today. Behind them, local Marcello Ugazio and Francois Carloni were trying to minimize the gap from the leaders. Rinaldi, the Italian Cross Triathlon champion was also in the top 10 fighting with the best.
The two team-mates where unstoppable today and started together the run with a comfortable lead. They are both very good runners and it was time to leave the friendship on the side and just show who is the best of the day. Serrieres saw a small weakness on Forissier after the first kilometer and pushed hard to take the lead. With the best run split of the day, 2min faster than any other competitor, he crossed the finish line first, with a big smile on his face.
“I started the run with Arthur and although he was pushing hard, I was able to run with him. I made my move after a while and saw that he could not follow me. At that time, I knew that this will be my first XTERRA victory. It was a hard course and a very hot day. I am very happy with my performance” said Serrieres.
Forissier had not his best run but managed to stay in 2ndposition. “I am very proud of my team mate. Arthur deserved this victory today” said Forissier.
Ugazio took the 3rd spot and was again on the podium, as in Greece at the end of last month.
“I gave everything I had today but the French guys were really strong. I am happy with another place on the podium at an XTERRA event this year” said Ugazio.
Xavier Dafflon did his best to close the gap from the leaders on the bike and the run and finished 4th. The Italian Cross triathlon Champion, Rinaldi was 5thand Carloni was 6th.
Amazing performance from the legend Olivier Marceau. The 3 times Olympian, 3 times 2ndplace in Maui and multi times XTERRA winner, came here for fun and managed to finish 9thoverall.
For the women, it was Nicole Walters who exited the water first, 1min 15 sec in front of Diane Lee and the “dangerous” Carine Wasle who was following behind her with a great swim. Diane Luthi from Switzerland was 4thand the Italian Cross triathlon Champion Eleonora Peroncini was 5th.
“This was a very tough swim, I was kicked few times from the men in front of me. It was not the best day for me and I am happy with my place on the podium” said Nicole.
Helena Karaskova was 5min and 15sec back form the leader, but we all know that XTERRA races are full of surprises and in such hard races anything can happen.
At the second climb of the first loop on the bike, Carina pushed hard and took the lead and almost kept it all day! Nicole was 2nd during the first bike loop, third was Eleonora. Helena was moving quick and put the fastest bike split of the day, but only 22sec faster than Carina, so not enough to come back.
Nicole was still in second place entering T2, but Helena was able to see her after passing the aid station, outside transition. But like for the men, the run split was the key today. Helena opened the throttle and had the best run split of the day, 2min faster that the second best split, performed by young Sandra Mairhofer from Italy. With this amazing performance on the run the young promising Italian, finished in 4thposition, her best place so far in XTERRA.
Carina lost about 4min on the last flat pedestrian section and this is where she lost the race, as Helena never slowed down and passed Carina, not far from the finish line.
“I had a very good swim today. The bike had a lot of climb and I was able to push hard passing everybody to take the lead. I kept the lead the whole day, but on the run Helena was very strong and passed me just 1km before the finish line” said Wasle
Nicole was out of gas in the last part of the race but managed to finish 3rdin front of the surprise of the day, Sandra Mairhofer.
“This is my 2ndXTERRA Race. I finished 7thin Greece and today I finished 4th. It was a tough race I had a very good bike and run split and I am very satisfied with my performance” said Mairhofer.
Another 2 Italians, Bianca Morvillo and Eleonora Peroncini sprinted to the finish line and had just 1 second difference, taking the 5thand 6thplace for the women.
Like Olivier Marceau for the men, it was another big name in our sport Renata Bucher from Switzerland who finished 9thfor the women.
We are very satisfied with what we saw here today. The local organizers did an amazing job. The town was full of banners promoting the race and the support from the local community was amazing. The race venue was full of people and spectators during the weekend and the atmosphere was similar to our biggest events in Europe” said Koumargialis
For the Euro Tour, we have some changes, and as predicted, Nicole Walters is standing at the top position.
“I cannot remember when it was the last time it was not Helena or Brigitta leading the Euro Tour” said Nico Lebrun.
Brigitta is now in second, Helena in 3rdand Carina in 4th. The move of the day is from Sandra Mairhofer who jumped to 7thposition.
For the men, our Spain organizer Roger Serrano, even not racing here today, keeps the lead. Maxim Chané, even with another bad day, managed to get some few points and remains second and François Carloni is now 3rd. The Team Tvert gang is coming back with Forissier in 4th and Serrieres in 5th. Ugazio is also now 7th and Xavier Dafflon is also coming back on the ranking in 9th.
Next stop in a week, in Golega, for XTERRA Portugal, where 2017 tour winner, Ruben Ruzafa will start his Euro Tour season.
(A big thank you to our XTERRA elite Doug Hall who assisted the Euro Team in the Facebook live coverage of the event.)