time European Cross Country Champion, took the second Campaccio Cross Country race victory of his career at the 49th edition of the event which was held today in Italy, on this occasion ahead of Olympic Marathon champion Stefano Baldini from Italy.
In the process Lebid led his strong multinational Italian club Cover Sportiva Mapei Verbania to victory in the team ranking in the Italian Club Championships over Carabinieri Bologna and Forestale, two of the best Italian military squads.
Lebid conquers stomach problems
Lebid's win was far from easy and really seemed in jeopardy in the first laps when Baldini, who is in the form of his life after his three-week successful training-camp in Namibia, went to the lead with the Kenyan Philimon Kipkering in the first two laps. Baldini and Kipkering increased their lead over Lebid by about 10 metres with the two swapping positions up front in the first three laps. The Italian increased the pace but the Kenyan did not give up.
Lebid gradually closed the gap on the leading duo, running at Baldini's heels for a while before launching his final kick which dropped the Italian in the last lap, and established a lead of about 20 metres over the Italian marathon runner.
"In the first part of the race I was struggling because of some stomach problems,”confirmed Lebid. “Then I recovered and began slowly to close the gap on Baldini and Kipkering. I saw that Baldini was beginning to struggle and I became confident that I could win. I have competed every week, so I need a short rest before flying to Kislovoz in Russia for a final five-week training camp before the World Cross Country Championships in France. A spot in the top five in France would be a great result for me", said Lebid.
"I performed beyond my expectations,” said Baldini. “I used a front-running tactic in the first part of the race. Perhaps it was a risk but I did not have alternatives if I wanted to perform well today. I ran better than last week in San Vittore Olona and I really enjoyed this race because I had nothing to lose.”
”The Olympic gold medal is making me stronger in every race, even on the cross-country surface where I am not the favourite. During the race I thought that I could produce the upset by beating Lebid. But I am happy that the work I did in Namibia is paying off,” confirmed Baldini.
"There is no point in going to the World Cross Country Championships. I have other plans and I do not think that I could really help the Italian cross country team. After a training camp in Tirrenia with the national marathon team I will compete in the Lisbon Half Marathon, “concluded Baldini.
Muli wins short race
Pius Muli, a former World 3000m Youth champion in 1999, won the men's short race after pulling away from Italian cross country specialist Gabriele De Nard in the last 300 metres but the Italian had the satisfaction of leading home the Fiamme Gialle squad in the short course team ranking.
Jeptoo defies Kalovics’s front running tactics
The women's long course developed into a tussle between the two Cover Sportiva Mapei Verbania teammates Rita Jeptoo and Aniko Kalovics who took the lead from the beginning. Kalovics, the 2003 European Cross Country bronze medallist, ran her usual front-running race and had a 10-metres lead over Rita Jeptoo.
Kalovics completed the first lap in the lead but Jeptoo was in control of the race on the heels of the Hungarian. Some metres behind the leading duo the Kenyan Florence Barsosio and the Italian Patrizia Tisi were in contention for the third place. At the bell Jeptoo went to the lead for the first time and increased her gap over the fading Kalovics. "I felt that my legs were stiff and I was tired from the start. I need a rest before next spring's Stramilano", said Kalovics.
"The course was difficult although the weather conditions were excellent today. I am planning to tackle the marathon again after my win in Milan in November. I think I will line up in the Turin Marathon on 17 April,” said Jeptoo.
Jeptoo, Kalovics and the italian Patrizia Tisi (fourth behind Florence Barsosio) earned the Cover Mapei Verbania an outstanding win in the women long course team ranking.
Uganda's Dorcus Inzikuru, a former World Junior 5000m champion clinched a gun to tape win over the italian Silvia Weissteiner in the women's short course contest. The women's short course team title went to the Esercito military squad.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Long race (12 km):
1 Sergiy Lebid (Ukraine) 36:10
2 Stefano Baldini (Italy) 36:28
3 Phillimon Kipkering (Kenya) 36:40
4 Maurizio Leone (Italy) 37:10
5 Danilo Goffi (Italy) 37:11
6 Driss Maazouzi (France) 37:14
Short race (4 km):
1 Pius Muli (Kenya) 11:48
2 Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 11:50
3 Gianni Crepaldi (Italy) 11:58
4 Umberto Pusterla (Italy) 12:00
5 Luciano Di Pardo (Italy) 12:03
Long race (6 km):
1 Rita Jeptoo (Kenya) 19:38
2 Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 19:58
3 Florence Barsosio (Kenya) 20:09
4 Patrizia Tisi (Italy) 20:24
5 Rosita Rota Gelpi (Italy) 20:43
6 Silvia Sommaggio (Italy) 20:46
Short race (4 km):
1 Dorcus Inzikuru (Uganda) 13:38
2 Silvia Weissteiner (Italy) 13:46
3 Federica Dal Ri (Italy) 13:55
4 Vincenza Sicari (Italy) 14:02
5 Renate Rungger (Italy) 14:06