2024 XTERRA World Cup Heats Up with Stop #2 in Greece

April 24, 2024

Key Points:

  • Vouliagmeni set to host stop #2 of the series amidst crystal-clear waters and fast, flowing trails.
  • Series leaders Solenne Billouin and Felix Forissier face stiff competition from 2024 newcomers including Arthur Serrières and Sandra Mairhofer.
  • Over 50 elite competitors will battle for series points, heightening the intensity of the race.

VOULIAGMENI, GREECE /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – The 2024 XTERRA World Cup series makes its second stop on April 27, 2024, as the host nation readies itself for the 11th consecutive year in off-road triathlon competition under the XTERRA banner.

Celebrated for its clear, tranquil waters and the dramatic vistas of the Athenian Riviera, Vouliagmeni, Greece sets the scene for elite triathletes competing for a share of the €15,000 prize purse, further elevating the stakes in this historic seaside town.

The course in Vouliagmeni, vastly different from the rugged trails of Taiwan, offers competitors a unique challenge with its scenic swims and fast, flowing trails. This change in terrain sets a new battleground for current series leaders Solenne Billouin (FRA) and Felix Forrissier (FRA), who triumphed in the first stop. With over 50 elite athletes in contention, including the welcome addition of top contenders Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) and the 2023 XTERRA World Cup Champion Arthur Serrières (FRA), the Full Distance Race promises intense competition and strategic racing.

Course Breakdown

The course starts in the same waters used for the triathlon event at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, but it quickly diverges into the rugged terrains characteristic of XTERRA competitions.

Swim (1.5K): The competition begins with 2 loops of 750m in the Gulf of Vouliagmeni in some of the cleanest waters on the XTERRA EMEA Tour.

Bike (30K): Athletes will transition to an MTB course consisting of two 15K loops. The route takes riders through local forests and suburban land areas, featuring gradual elevation changes that lead to a consistently fast pace. Dry, dusty trails with Mediterranean rock add a technical element, while short, punchy climbs provide opportunities for strategic overtakes.

Run (11K): The run segment begins with a steep technical climb up into the mountain trails, then two loops in this elevated terrain before a 1K final sprint to the finish line in town.

Elite Men’s and Women’s Start List available here.

Key Elites in the Men’s Race

(Name, Country, World Cup Points)

Felix Forissier, FRA, 100 pts

Fresh off a win at stop #1 in Taiwan, Felix Forissier, the 2023 XTERRA World Cup runner-up, is poised for the challenges ahead. Known as “The Silent Assassin,” Forissier shares his thoughts: “At this stage of the season, I feel good and focused. In Greece, I believe the difficulty will come from the running section, [but] I think my current strength lies in the consistency of both my cycling and running.”

Regarding his competitors, Forissier acknowledges, “My competitors will be numerous, including my brother Arthur [Forissier (FRA)], Jens Emil [Sloth Nielsen (DNK)], and the return of Arthur Serrières (FRA). I believe these will be my three main competitors, and the battle will be tough.”

Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DNK, 90 pts

After securing second place in Taiwan, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen reflects on his strengths and areas for growth. With an impressive win at the 2023 XTERRA World Cup Short Track in Trentino, Sloth Nielsen comments, “I haven’t progressed much on swimming but mainly focused on MTB and trail running. To be honest, I just think it’s much more fun to ride my bike and run. I’m patient with my swimming.”

He also discusses his move to France and its impact on his training: “This year I’ve moved to France in the pursuit of more nature and higher mountains. This has opened a new chapter for me in regards to running.” His strategic focus earned him the fastest run split in Taiwan and his enjoyment of the sport positions him as a top contender in Greece.

Arthur Forissier, FRA, 82 pts

Arthur Forissier, who placed third at stop #1 in Taiwan this year and claimed victory there in 2023, is a seasoned XTERRA competitor with numerous titles, including the 2022 XTERRA Worlds Runner-Up and the 2019 ITU Cross Tri World Champion.

Forissier reflects on his competitive philosophy, stating, “Winning again would certainly be a good thing, but I believe it’s being at the forefront throughout all the races that will matter! I believe consistency and regularity are my strengths.”

His strategic focus on maintaining a high level of performance across the series highlights his drive for overall success.

Arthur Serrières, FRA, N/A

Starting his 2024 campaign, Arthur Serrières, last year’s World Cup Champion and winner of the XTERRA World Championship in Trentino, brings a formidable reputation as a 2x XTERRA World Champion and 3x XTERRA European Champion.

Serrières approaches his first race of the season with a mix of anticipation and strategic calm, noting, “I am approaching the race like the first race of 2024. The first race is always challenging about knowing where you are in terms of shape. I am looking forward to seeing where I am right now and happy to be back.”

Maxim Chané, FRA, 75 pts

Coming in fourth overall at stop #1 in Taiwan, Maxim Chané is not only a strong contender in the XTERRA series but also an accomplished runner. Chané, the winner of the 2023 XTERRA Oman and the inaugural XTERRA Short Track Series Championship in 2022, has consistently placed in the top 5 in 6 of his last 9 races.

Highlighting his versatility and endurance, Chané also participated in the 37K Trail Run Marathon the day following his XTERRA race in Taiwan, where he impressively secured a third-place finish at the Asia-Pacific Trail Run Championship.

Notable Quotes from the Men’s Field:

Sébastien Carabin, BEL, 69 pts.

“The trail run in Greece is fast but also with a hard demanding uphill so it will be hard to keep a huge tempo after the bike, but the bike course will be fun.”

Sebastian Neef, (DEU), 63 pts.

“The thrill is to see what your body is capable of and to race against the best in the world in the most beautiful locations. Race fair, race hard and may the best athlete stand deservedly on top at the end.”

Kieran McPherson, (NZL), 58 pts.

“I look forward to racing a bigger and deeper field this weekend, as this level of competition only brings out the best in my performances and athlete growth.”

Michele Bonacina, (ITA), N/A

“Not at 100% because I couldn’t swim for one month [after the wrist fracture], butI’ll try to stay with the other athletes on the swim and then let’s see!”

Jules Dumas, (FRA) N/A

“XTERRA Greece is special because it’s where I achieved my first XTERRA podium. My strategy is to swim as fast as possible to get ahead without getting too tired and stay with the leading group as long as possible.”

Women’s Race Frontrunners

(Name, Country, World Cup Points)

Solenne Billouin, FRA, 100 pts.

Fresh from her victory at stop #1 in Taiwan and as the reigning two-time XTERRA World Champion, Solenne Billouin has consistently finished in the top five in 24 of her last 26 races, winning 10 of them.

She shares her insights on the upcoming challenge: “It’s a fast bike course but people underestimate the technical parts which can play a big role in the performance, in my opinion. The challenge is to evaluate the amount of risk you can take to win.”

Alizée Paties, FRA, 90 pts.

Alizée Paties, who placed second in Taiwan and is the inaugural 2023 XTERRA World Cup Champion, has an impressive record with top-five finishes in 26 of her last 27 races.

Reflecting on her previous experiences in XTERRA Greece, Paties notes, “Greece is a great race. I’ve good memories here and I remember you have to manage your bike very well on the downhill with the rocks. The run also has a lot of ups and downs, so it’s a long game until the end.”

Marta Menditto, ITA, 82 pts.

Marta Menditto, who finished third in Taiwan, has been the most active XTERRA elite in 2024, claiming victories in XTERRA South Africa and Rotorua.

Discussing the distinctions of the Greek course, Menditto explains, “This race is totally different from Taiwan; the uphills are really short so you have to push all the time and be powerful during the entire race. I think that in Greece, we will see for the first time Sandra Mairhofer’s (ITA) shape. I know that she is good and she will be the one to beat. I just want to be strong, do my race at the best possible, and the position doesn’t matter. Last year I was so far away from the top, this year I want to show that I can stay in the front.”

Sandra Mairhofer, ITA, N/A

The 2023 XTERRA France Champion and consistent top contender, Sandra Mairhofer, comes into the Greece race with high expectations. With 19 top 5 finishes out of her last 21 races, and significant achievements including the 2022 World Triathlon Cross Tri Champion title, Mairhofer is eager to start her season: “It is early in the season for me, Greece will be my first triathlon this year and I am really excited to race again and to see what will happen. I think the run has some really steep parts and a lot of fast sections which will make a challenging mix!”

When asked about her motivation, she adds, “The love of the sport we call triathlon and the awesomeness you can feel just by pushing your limit keeps me going. Greece is a beautiful place where my love for XTERRA began. The level is rising and it is so great to see these powerful women competing!”

Aneta Grabmüller, CZE, 75 pts.

Aneta Grabmüller, who finished fourth at stop #1 in Taiwan this year, continues to prove herself as a formidable athlete. Reflecting on her recent performance and preparation, she states, “Taiwan was a good indicator of where I am and what I need to work on. I had a very solid four weeks of preparation and I feel ready and excited to race in Greece. I am a very good swimmer but it’s not always easy to be the target to be chased down. I am looking forward to Greece, to the stacked field and hopefully someone I can work with on the bike to make it a bit more difficult to be caught.”

She also shares her journey in XTERRA, noting, “I feel like I haven’t shown the best of me yet, I haven’t had a perfect race yet. I feel like I am still rather new to XTERRA, there is still so much space for improvement. I like the learning process. I feel inspired by the strong female athletes I race with and to see what is possible, how strong we can be!”

Notable Quotes from the Women’s Field:

Anna Zehnder, CHE, 69 pts.

“When you’ve reached that peak of the mountain it’s almost all downhill, sometimes through stone fields. It takes a great deal of focus and trust in your own skills to master that part. Last year I raced my first Cross Triathlon in the Elite Category here in Vouliagmeni. I took home the bronze medal. Let’s see what’s in it this year for me.”

Carina Wasle, AUT, 58 pts.

I’m definitely in better shape than at the 1st World Cup in Taiwan. Being sick and racing in Taiwan cost me quite a lot of energy and I paid for it, because it took me another 2 weeks to recover. But now I’m healthy, had some good training sessions and feel ready to race again.

Key Matchups and Predictions:

In Greece, the top three men and women from the first stop will compete again, with the Forissier brothers and Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen in the men’s race, and Billouin, Paties, and Menditto in the women’s. Adding excitement are newcomers like Arthur Serrières, the formidable 2x World Champion, and Sandra Mairhofer, Italy’s acclaimed multi-sport athlete. Both will be ones to watch as they join the fray in this tightly contested series.

Felix Forissier vs. Arthur Serrières: Felix Forissier and Arthur Serrières have demonstrated their skills as top competitors in the XTERRA World Cup. Both French athletes, known for their strong performances across all three disciplines have been closely contested in their recent encounters. In 2023, Forissier secured a victory in the Czech Republic, while Serrières narrowly claimed wins in Germany and at the World Championship in Italy. Their rivalry is expected to be intense from start to finish.

Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen’s Strategy: Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, known for his exceptional riding skills, often compensates for his weaker swimming performance by excelling in subsequent stages. Following a second-place finish in Taiwan, Sloth Nielsen’s approach will likely showcase strategic overtaking, particularly noted once the bike segment begins.

Arthur Forissier vs. Maxim Chané: Arthur Forissier and Maxim Chané, both strong contenders in the XTERRA World Cup, are currently vying for a better standing in the leaderboard. Each has experienced setbacks due to injuries but returned with strong performances, with Forissier finishing just ahead of Chané in Taiwan. Their ongoing competition is expected to be closely contested as they head into the second stop of the series.

Solenne Billouin vs. Alizée Paties vs. Sandra Mairhofer: The women’s race features three of the sport’s elite. These athletes are set to compete intensely after Mairhofer’s return to form following a fall at XTERRA Czech in 2023. This anticipated matchup promises to highlight the competitive dynamics among the leading female triathletes.

Aneta Grabmüller vs. Marta Menditto: Aneta Grabmüller and Marta Menditto are poised for a significant showdown in the upcoming race. Grabmüller had a strong start in the first stop of the series, leading early in the race. However, Menditto’s powerful performance on the run allowed her to overtake and secure a podium finish. Their next encounter could determine crucial positions on the leaderboard, with both athletes looking to assert their dominance.

Since its 2013 debut, XTERRA Greece Vouliagmeni will now become a vital speed and precision test under World Cup conditions. Positioned as the first of three races in XTERRA’s most competitive region, this event carries significant weight. With 58 qualifying slots for the XTERRA World Championship in Trentino, Italy, the 2-day event also features a Sprint Distance for Junior, Youth A, and Youth B categories as qualifiers for the XTERRA Youth World Championship.

Following the Greece event, the series progresses to its first double-feature stop, where the popular Short Track race will be introduced for the first time this season. Competitors can earn 100 points for a Full Distance victory and an additional 75 points for winning the Short Track event. This format offers athletes capable of sustaining high performance over two consecutive days a significant opportunity to gain substantial points as the series moves to the USA.

Next Stops on the 2024 XTERRA World Cup Series

Stop #3: Oak Mountain

May 18: Full Distance

May 19: Short Track [🔴 LIVE]

Livestream start: 09:00 GMT -6

Stop #4: Belgium

Jun 8: Full Distance

Stop #5: Quebec

Jul 12: Short Track

Jul 14: Full Distance

Stop #6: Czech

Aug 10: Full Distance

Aug 11: Short Track [🔴 LIVE]

Livestream start: 13:00 GMT +1

Stop #7: Trentino

Sep 26: Short Track [🔴 LIVE]

Livestream start: 14:00 GMT +2

Sep 28: Full Distance [🔴 LIVE]

Livestream start: 09:45 GMT +2


XTERRA is a global lifestyle brand that champions the outdoor enthusiast in their pursuit of relentless adventure. From pioneering the sport of cross-triathlon in 1996, XTERRA has grown to become a leading brand in off-road adventure through the XTERRA World Tour, XTERRA Trail Run World Series and the XTERRA World Cup, connecting an eco-aware community of worldwide explorers that seek to protect the places where they play. For more information, visit xterraplanet.com.

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