Ruzafa, Corona Win XTERRA Kunming, mainland China

Monday 23 September 2019

It’s the 35th career XTERRA World Tour win for Ruzafa, who won his first of three XTERRA World Championship races in 2008 as a 24-year-old, and for Corona – a remarkable third win in four weeks. She won XTERRA Dominican Republic on September 1, was third at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship in Utah on September 7, and won XTERRA Japan last Sunday.

In the men’s elite race Ben Allen from Australia was first out of the water in 19:42, with Frenchmen Brice Daubord and Maxim Chane and Ruzafa just seconds behind.  The strong swim for Ruzafa, who is known more for his mountain biking abilities than swim speed, was a strong sign of things to come. 

“My race was really good,” said Ruzafa. “I wasn’t expecting this performance. The fast swimmers didn’t push too hard on the swim, so I was able to stay with them. On the bike, I tried to push and make some time and finally I came to transition two minutes ahead of the rest. I know Daubord is a good runner, but being first I was not able to get splits, so I continued to push on the run. Crossing the line with a lead of more than four minutes was great. This was a good test for me and gave me confidence heading into the XTERRA World Championship in Maui next month.”

Ruzafa posted the fastest bike (1:21:04) and quickest run (37:02) to take the tape in 2:20:10, more than four-minutes ahead of Daubord.

“I was scared about my mountain bike performance as I did only one week of training on it before coming here,” said Daubord, who races in the competitive French Grand Prix series.  “I just wanted a third-place here today so I could win the Tour, so I am very happy to finish second behind Ruzafa.  This year I had an incredible experience racing XTERRA in Taiwan, Tahiti, and here in China.”

Daubord finished third at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in March, won XTERRA Tahiti, and was second in Kunming to win the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour title.  Chane placed second in the Tour, 40 points behind his fellow countryman, and third in the race three minutes behind Daubord.

“Today it was hard because of the altitude,” said Chane.  “My swim and bike were good, and I came into the bike-to-run transition together with Daubord but on the run my heart rate was really high, so I was not able to run like I wanted. Overall, it was a great race for me and I’m really happy to finish third today in these conditions. Now, it’s time to rest and get ready for Maui.”

Kieran McPherson from New Zealand, who won XTERRA Japan last weekend, finished in fourth and David Escolar from Spain finished fifth.  The spirit award for the day goes to Ben Allen, who broke his derailleur and had a flat at 4km on the bike but continued the race pushing his bike for the next 26-kilometers and then finished the run.  He placed last among elites in 13th place more than two hours after Ruzafa crossed the line, but showed true grit in carrying on.

Men's Elite Race
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 2:20:10
2 Brice Daubord, FRA 2:24:40
3 Maxim Chane, FRA 2:27:37
4 Kieran McPherson, NZL 2:29:46
5 David Escolar, ESP 2:36:03

In the women’s elite race Jacqui Allen from the UK had the fastest swim, with a big group that included Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand, Johandri Leicester from South Africa, Carina Wasle from Austria, and Fabiola Corona from Mexico about one-minute back. 

Once on the bike, Corona worked her way to the front with Jacqui Allen with Wasle and Orchard close behind.  Corona posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:38:42) and held on during the run to take the win in 2:50:14, nearly one-minute ahead of Wasle in second place.

“I am really happy, I didn’t expect the first place and the gold medal in this race, it’s like a dream come true,” said Corona.  “Eleven years ago I was here in China for the 2008 Olympic Games, but my swim was not really good, and I was very disappointed with my results that day. Now, 11 years later, to get the win here in front of some of the best women in our sport is amazing. And the setup in XTERRA China is great, similar to the Olympics with red carpets everywhere, so many volunteers and staff, winning here is like winning the world cup.”

Wasle had a strong run and closed the gap to Corona to finish second and secure the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour crown by just three points.  If Wasle had finished third, Corona would have won the Tour title.

“I am more than happy; I just can’t describe it with words. I had a really hard time the last two months and didn’t even know if I would be able to come here,” said Wasle  “I pushed hard on the first climb on the bike and was able to pass the other girls and came into the bike-to-run transition in second together with Allen and Orchard. The run was good, I came close to Fabiola after the first loop but was not able to push more. I am very happy as with my second place here I won the Asia-Pacific Tour.”

Orchard, who also battled injuries all season, had a strong race to finish in third.

“I had a really good swim, I was by myself all the time, so it was nice and calm,” said Orchard.  “On the bike I was expecting the sun to come out as I really like hot weather, so this made me a little bit more powerful on the second lap. On the run, actually I was able to keep my pace and secure the third position. The course at XTERRA China is amazing and the support we had during the race was exciting. It was such a great experience.”

Jacqui Allen finished fourth and Kate Bramley, who won XTERRA Netherlands last weekend, finished fifth.

Women's Elite Race 
1 Fabiola Corona, MEX 2:50:14
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 2:51:03
3 Lizzie Orchard, NZL 2:52:20
4 Jacqui Allen, GBR 2:53:34
5 Kate Bramley, AUS 2:56:25

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