|Álvaro Fiuza and Walter Bouzán after their 3rd victory in a row|
The race was already predicted to be very tight after the entries of so many good couples aiming to put their names at Ribadesella's promenade. The river was in low water and nerves could be felt since days ago around. The start, spectacular as usual, was leaded after the first 50 metres by the South African boat of Anthony Stott and Cameron Schoeman, followed very closely by Jesús R. León/Miguel F. Castañón (Fluvial O Barco) and Vicente Tortajada/Omar Calzón (Piraguamadrid). Some of the favorites were in trouble to go into their kayaks in such a crowded start and began to appear at the front bunch after a few hundred metres and a big effort. First to show off were Julio Martínez and Javier Hernanz, Sella record holders, followed some further down by the rest of top favorites Bouzán/Fiuza, Merchán/Alonso and Busto/Llamedo, last ones to close the gap when the race was already at its second km., while Tortajada/Calzón lost contact with the leaders.
It's not usual to see such a compact group leading the Sella and composed by such strong couples. The first difficult point of the 20 km. race was at Triong Island, this year taken by the left with a wavy and narrow pass that made some of the crews touch each others. In the fight, León and Castañón lost contact and suffered for the next kilometre trying to get again on the wash, but finally had to give up as the leading group didn't want many people coming up again in such a narrow and shallow river.
|Bouzán/Fiuza (008), León/Castañón (9) and Martínez/Hernanz (012) run into the river at the traditional Sella start.|
With now five boats on the lead, the pace was set by Martínez/Hernanz, with Bouzán/Fiuza and Merchán/Alonso on first wash and Stott/Schoeman and Busto/Llamedo on secondary. But drama came for this last crew at the point known as Picu la Vieya, where in a very closed turn left, the stream made them fall in and their paddles went away, falling apart from the fight for victory.
|J.J. Becerro, K1 winner|
At the K2 leading group, the three Spanish couples started to feel that the podium was going to be for them, as the South Africans Stott and Schoeman never looked comfortable on the back wash, until they finally lost contact and were caught by the cezchs Adam and Odvarko, who already were alone in the chase. For sure, with a better start, this crew could have put in problems the Spanish leaders. But they were already in another game, surpassing each other at some of the rapids and turnas of the river, finally were Bouzán and Fiuza the ones leading the race when they faced Ribadesella's bridge for the last 500 metres. They were trying to make Merchán and Alonso paddle on shallow water to avoid their known powerful sprint when opened left to look for deeper water and try to go on the lead. Bouzán/Fiuza and Merchán/Alonso reacted then and the sprint was launched from very far away.
Already at the buoys guiding to the finish line, Martínez/Hernanz gave up after giving their best, while Merchán and Alonso couldn't find a way to beat Bouzán and Fiuza, looking really strong at the finish and entering the bridge as winners of the 76th Sella Descent, in a victory that crowns them as the couple to beat nowadays on marathon distances.
Just ten metres behind, Merchán and Alonso were about to suffer the wierd situation of the day: happy for the second position, they were trying to cheer each other by clapping their hands when they feel down the kayak before trespassing the finish line. Then Martínez and Hernanz came second and Merchán/Alonso had to make some trick to go again on the K2 with the water almost at their necks to avoid being beaten by Cezchs and South Africans, who were already sprinting for fourth position. Finally they managed and could kept the third place on the podium after a superb race.
|Michele Eray, winner in Women K1|
At the Women race, Mara Santos, after more than twenty titles in K1, tried this year on a K2 with former Spanish National Team sprinter Mª Isabel García, reaching a new victory, being second the Argentinian crew and third the Swedish. Meanwhile, in K1, fantastic victory for South African Michele Eray, Beijing 2008 olympic finalist, who was taking part in her first Sella after many years in its agenda. He claimed the title with great authority and a very good time of 1h29', despite a fall at La Presa rapid and counting on the low water conditions. Her gap of more than 6 minutes over the second paddler talks by itself about Michele's great race.
You can check the full results at this link.