Olivier Marceau and Marion "Bubu" Lorblanchet took home top honors at the XTERRA European Championship in Zittau, Germany on Saturday. It's the third European Championship for Marceau and the first for Lorblanchet - who has now won three of four races in this year’s Tour and leads the points chase with just one race left (XTERRA Switzerland on Sept. 10). Dietz still leads Marceau in the men's points chase.
It was a beautiful day in Zittau, "Sunny and mild with a slight breeze - a perfect low 70's day for racing," explained "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas. Here is his complete report from Saturday’s race...
The big event was a combined XTERRA Germany, XTERRA European Championship and Deutsche Federation Championship. It was a mass start with two 750m laps and a short beach run. The water temp was right at 22C, or so the DTU feds said, so no wetsuits for anyone. The swim ended up a bit long taking over 21 minutes even for speedy Aussie Ben Allen. The early surprise was the strong bike form of Czech Karel Zadak. At the top of the steepest climb at what is known as “The Tower” Zadak had a lead of about 30-seconds on a pack that included Olivier Marceau, ITU 70.3 winner Sebastien Kienle and young German age group phenom Alexander Haas.
This pack was closely followed by Ben Allen, Ronny Dietz, Nico Lebrun, Jan Kubicek and Yeray Luxem. I expected Seth Wealing to do well here but he was struck hard with two flats and at the climb was already well back. American Will Kelsey (known in Germany as Veel Kezley) was having a great race with German Thilo Zoberbier and both were cutting through the field after slower swims.
Nearing the end of the bike on a technical, steep downhill Marceau had passed Zadak, now in second, with Haas, Dietz and Kienle not far back and Nico Lebrun closing fast.
For the women, “Bubu” Lorblanchet as usual took the lead out of the water and simply kept it. Shonny Vanlandingham was still bothered by the torn ligament in her thumb but this course was not as bumpy as the Czech race last week and she was able to make up six minutes on the French girl during the ride. The problem? She lost eight minutes in the swim.
“Yeah, the thumb slowed me down a bit on the swim, but heck, my swim is never that fast anyway” said the world champ.
Lorblanchet was worried about “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher and said she rode hard knowing that Shonny and Renata would be catching her. Renata had a great bike and was the only woman within two minutes of the Texas rider. Renata’s running has not been super fast this season and Vanlandingham was able to reel her in on the run to take second under two minutes behind Lorblanchet.
Carla van Huyssteen from South Africa returned to the European tour for a fine 4th with last week’s runner-up Helena Erbanova in 5th. Erbanova’s father said she had big problems only in the swim with “no neoprene” and indeed Erbanova was by far the fastest runner of the day to offset a swim slower than Vanlandingham’s. Carina Wasle, expected to do well on this climbing course had bike problems but soldiered on to a hard fought 6th place.
The season around the World is coming to an end, but many of the races are still waiting for that final push in late August in the States and early September in Europe and Canada. We even have the first XTERRA Venezuela in early September.