The XTERRA World Tour hosts two big events this Saturday with European Championship in Zittau and the penultimate race on the Pan America Tour in Quebec.
The XTERRA World Tour hosts two big events this Saturday with European Championship in Zittau and the penultimate race on the Pan America Tour in Quebec. Here we preview the elite races for both…
XTERRA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY IN GERMANY
The pinnacle event on the 2018 XTERRA European Tour takes place Saturday, August 18, in Zittau, as XTERRA Germany plays host to the European Championship race for the third time.
This is the 17th edition of XTERRA Germany, which produced its inaugural event in 2002, and for the 11th year all the action will unfold in Zittau, a famous town near the Polish and Czech borders that boasts some of the oldest buildings in all of Germany.
As one of three gold-level races on Tour, a $25,000 prize purse, and huge music festival-type set-up, the event has attracted an incredible elite field featuring the best-of-the-best off-roaders from around the world.
Reigning XTERRA European, Asia-Pacific, and World Championship title holder Bradley Weiss from South Africa headlines the elite men’s race and comes in fresh off a win at XTERRA Poland on Sunday.
“Poland went very well, and provided some great momentum going into this weekend’s race,” said Weiss, who spent the last month at an altitude camp in the Italian Alps with Sebastian Kienle preparing specifically for Saturday’s race. “I’ve raced in Germany four times now and know this course very well. I am very confident of my chances come Saturday and hope the race plays out like it did in Poland. I’m biking well right now, so you can expect that to be where I will try and make my move. I really can’t wait. The European Championship always brings out an incredibly strong field and this weekend will be no different.”
Indeed, there are 36 elite men from 14 countries on the start list, by far the deepest field of the season. One notable exception is three-time XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa, who suffered a scaphoid fissure in a fall at the ITU Cross Tri World Championship in Denmark (which he won for the fourth time). The injury put him in a wrist splint for three weeks, dashing any hopes at contending in Germany, but trust he’ll be better by the time the XTERRA World Championships roll around this October in Maui.
With Ruzafa out, that leaves last year’s XTERRA Germany winner Sam Osborne from New Zealand as Weiss’ chief nemesis. Osborne was second in Poland last week and second to Weiss at the European Championship race when it was held in Denmark last year but defeated Weiss at XTERRA Albay in June on his way to winning the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour crown.
“I need to set up the day with a really good swim,” said Osborne, one of the XTERRA World Tour’s fastest watermen. “There are some big swimmers here, so I’m looking to take advantage of that and get some clear road on the bike. Then the goal is to not burn too many unnecessary matches on the bike, so I can take advantage of the run. I’m running well, I showed that at Cross Tri Worlds, so if I come to T2 with legs, game on!”
Osborne said he anticipates a hotly contested battle all day long.
“The level is so high now across all three disciplines,” he said. “You look at last year and it was literally a pack of us off the bike together, and I am sure you will see some fireworks being lit in the Zittau mountains between that lead group.”
One man you can expect to be in that lead group is 2015 XTERRA European Tour Champ Roger Serrano from Spain.
“I will do an easy swim and start biking with no rush,” said Serrano, winner of XTERRA Malta, Cyprus, and Abruzzo this year. “After Italy I know I can ride fast so I will see how my body works during the first uphill on the bike. Depending on how Sam is feeling, or if Jens goes crazy from the start, or how fast Brad is trying to catch us, and who is coming from behind, I will stay, or I will push. I’m confident, but nobody wants to ride in the lead and get caught at T2. At the end, however, there is just one plan: be happy with my performance. If I win it has to be because I was the best, and If they beat me (no matter how many of them) it has to be because they have been training better and raced smarted. A clean race is always a good race.”
Arthur Serrieres from France, who was second to Osborne at this race last year, won at XTERRA Lake Garda in May and XTERRA Romania two weeks ago, but finished 5th last week in Poland.
“I feel good, but I broke one of my ribs in Romania,” said Serrieres, who sits in second on the XTERRA European Tour standings behind only fellow countryman Francois Carloni. “The injury is painful, but I will be okay for the race. I will try to manage the gap on the swim and go hard on the first big hill on the bike. I think I am a good climber, so I hope to join the first pack quickly. I know I can run fast, so I will try to just stay on their wheels. Bradley, however, has reached another level and he is so strong. It will be very hard to beat him.”
Other elite men of note include Carloni, the Tour leader who won XTERRA Belgium this year, and Maxim Chane, who is fifth in the rankings and finished second at XTERRA Cyprus in April.
Home country favorites include Jens Roth, the German Cross Tri Champ who was fifth here last year, and Peter Lehmann, who is ranked third in the XTERRA European Tour rankings after 12 of 16 events.
The young Marcello Ugazio from Italy has four top three finishes this year, Xavier Dafflon from Switzerland has show glimpses of brilliance, and Pavel Andreev from Russia was fourth at XTERRA Germany last year. The wild card may be Olly Shaw from New Zealand, who has been fantastic in the two races he’s done this year – which resulted in a runner-up showing at XTERRA New Zealand and a third-place finish behind only Osborne and Weiss at XTERRA Albay.
Men’s Elite Start List
2018 XTERRA European Tour Rank / Name NAT
1 Francois Carloni FRA
2 Arthur Serrieres FRA
3 Peter Lehmann GER
4 Roger Serrano Salgado ESP
5 Maxim Chané FRA
7 Xavier Dafflon SUI
8 Rui Dolores POR
10 Marcello Ugazio ITA
11 Bradley Weiss RSA
12 Geert Lauryssen BEL
13 Doug Hall GBR
14 Jan Kubicek CZE
20 Sam Osborne NZL
24 Dominik Wychera AUT
27 Christophe Betard FRA
28 Pavel Andreev RUS
29 Clément Brière FRA
30 Hannes Wolpert GER
31 Veit Hönle GER
35 Grigorios Souvatzoglou GRE
38 Lukas Kocar CZE
43 Karel Zadak CZE
44 Will Crudgington GBR
47 Jens Roth GER
48 Markus Benesch AUT
51 Gaetan Vivien FRA
56 Krzysztof Kokot POL
70 Matteo Bozzato ITA
72 Julien Buffe FRA
73 Tiago Maia POR
NR Samuel Jud SUI
NR Jan Francke CZE
NR Daniel Niederreiter AUT
NR Malte Plappert GER
NR Raphael Schröder GER
NR Olly Shaw NZL
NR Andrea Giuseppe Zanenga ITA
Last year at XTERRA Germany Brigitta Poor from Hungary won it, Helena Karaskova from the Czech Republic was second, and Carina Wasle from Austria was third. Those three are back for more and also happen to be the top three ranked elite women in the XTERRA European Tour standings (Wasle is No. 1, Poor is ranked second, and Karaskova is third).
XTERRA European director Nico Lebrun says Poor is the favorite.
“She has to be the favorite,” he said. “She’s won six times in Europe this season and is the current European champion after winning in Denmark last year. However, I said the same thing last week in Poland before Karaskova got the better of her. Both athletes raced Poland at the end of a big training block, so with a little rest this week we should see a fantastic race between the two big favorites. I think that XTERRA Germany could suit Karaskova better, with the big climbs suiting her mountain bike ability. Wasle will be close to the front as well. With 10 podium finishes in 2018 she leads the tour by a considerable margin. She’s never won here in Zittau but won XTERRA Germany three times in a row (2005-07) when the race was hosted in Titisee. Thirteen years later, she is still racing strong and hungry for the win.”
For Poor, this race means a lot. “Poland wasn’t my best race, but it was a great warm-up before the European Championship. Of course, this race is very important for me, because I want to be the XTERRA European Champion again!”
It’s important for Karaskova as well, as she recently decided to retire from racing at the end of this season to spend more time with her family.
“I was so happy to win last week in Poland, and cross the finish line with my daughter,” said Karaskova, the reigning and four-time XTERRA European Tour Champion. “…and yes, I decided to stop racing. Triathlon is a very difficult sport, and I feel that I don’t have the energy to train for all the disciplines. At the same time, I want to take care of my daughter and my family and spend more time with them. We love sport and racing, but I think now it’s time to give this to my daughter. She started her own training and I want to be part of it. I also want to share my experiences from XTERRA and skiing to the other people. It has been a beautiful eight years with XTERRA. It’s made me stronger and I’ve met so many great people. As for Zittau, I love this bike course. It’s beautiful, has long uphills and technical downhills and great singletrack. I just hope my legs will be fresh for this tough race.”
Then there is Wasle, who is without a doubt the most well-traveled XTERRA racer over the past several years.
“This year I’ve had a good race schedule,” said Wasle. “I started with XTERRA South Africa, then went to Malta, Danao, Greece, Lake Garda, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, France, ITU Cross Worlds in Denmark, Czech, Scanno, and last weekend, Poland. So, 13 races so far.”
Despite all the travel, Wasle says she still feels sharp.
“I’m feeling quite good. Sure, when I race so much the training comes short and all the traveling doesn’t help with recovery. Now, I take it very easy during the week, so I can go full gas on the weekends. I did lots of training during winter time at home and have a solid base to work from. At the moment I’m not at my high level, but in good enough shape to make the podium at all the races. After Scanno, I had two weeks without races and quality training, so that helped to prepare me for XTERRA Germany. I’ve raced many times now in Zittau. It’s a very fast course and maybe not the best for me, but last year I had quite a good race (she finished third) so I’ve made friends with the course now. Here you need a good swim, because the first part is flat and very fast. So, I hope I can catch a fast wheel, then start climbing. To take the win here would be incredible for me, because it’s European Champs and I haven’t won a Euro race this season. But Brigitta, Helena, Morgane…they are also very hungry to win. It will be a good fight for the top step.”
Other elite women of note include Nicole Walters from the UK, who had to take a break to recover from injury after finishing second at ITU Cross Tri Worlds. Eva Garcia from Spain, winner at XTERRA Scanno, and Morgane Riou, winner at XTERRA Belgium, are expected to chase podium spots.
“Lizzie Orchard and Samantha Kingsford from New Zealand will animate the front of the race too,” said Lebrun, who himself won the first-ever XTERRA European Championship race back in 2006. “Lizzie skipped Poland last week to focus on preparing for this weekend, so I expect big things from her.”
The next generation of elite women stars will also be on the start line, with XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champ Penny Slater from Australia and last year’s overall amateur women’s XTERRA World Champ Loanne Duvoisin from Switzerland.
“Plus, as we’ve seen at many races this year, we’ll have a strong Italian presence with Sandra Mairhofer, Bianca Morvillo and Marta Mendito. For this race I will bet on Mairhofer to be the first Italian home.
Daria Rogozina from Russia was 7th here in 2017 and will have to run fast again to come back into the top 10 this year. We also have two athletes from Germany, Bianca Reitwiessner who was 11th in Zittau last year and Maria Doring.”
Elite Women’s Start List
2018 XTERRA European Tour Rank / Name NAT
1 Carina Wasle AUT
2 Brigitta Poór HUN
3 Helena Karásková CZE
4 Nicole Walters GBR
5 Morgane Riou FRA
8 Penny Slater AUS
9 Sandra Mairhofer ITA
12 Eva Garcia Gonzalez ESP
15 Elizabeth Orchard NZL
16 Bianca Morvillo AUT
17 Angela Niklaus SUI
19 Sabina Rzepka POL
25 Daria Rogozina RUS
28 Loanne Duvoisin SUI
29 Samantha Kingsford NZL
36 Marta Menditto ITA
NR Maria Döring GER
NR Bianca Reitwießner GER
NR Nicoline Sørensen DEN
All-time XTERRA European Championship Race Elite Winners
Year – Location – Men’s Winner / Women’s Winner
2017 – Mons Klint, Denmark – Bradley Weiss / Brigitta Poor
2016 – Zittau, Germany – Ruben Ruzafa / Michelle Flipo
2015 – Cranleigh, England – Ruben Ruzafa / Lesley Paterson
2011 – Zittau, Germany – Olivier Marceau / Marion Lorblanchet
2010 – Sardinia, Italy – Franky Batelier / Melanie McQuaid
2009 – Klopeinersee, Austria – Franky Batelier / Renata Bucher
2008 – Sardinia, Italy – Olivier Marceau / Sibylle Matter
2007 – Sardinia, Italy – Olivier Marceau / Eszter Erdelyi
2006 – Villacidro, Italy – Nicolas Lebrun / Renata Bucher
All-time XTERRA Germany Elite Winners
Year – Location – Men’s / Women’s
2017 – Zittau – Sam Osborne / Brigitta Poor
2016 – Zittau – Ruben Ruzafa / Michelle Flipo
2015 – Zittau – Ben Allen / Helena Erbenova
2014 – Zittau – Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller
2013 – Zittau – Ruben Ruzafa / Jacqui Slack
2012 – Zittau – Asa Shaw / Helena Erbenova
2011 – Zittau – Olivier Marceau / Marion Lorblanchet
2010 – Zittau – Cancelled due to flooding
2009 – Zittau – Franky Batelier / Renata Bucher
2008 – Zittau – Ronny Dietz / Renata Bucher
2007 – Titisee – Franky Batelier / Carina Wasle
2006 – Titisee – Sebastian Kienle / Carina Wasle
2005 – Titisee – Nicolas Lebrun / Carina Wasle
2004 – Titisee – Olivier Marceau / Katrin Helmcke
2003 – Titisee – Nicolas Lebrun / Jamie Whitmore
2002 – Titisee – Ronny Dietz / Ute Schaefer
Note: The XTERRA Germany course has changed slightly for 2018. While the classic two-lap, non-wetsuit swim and the 36km single lap marathon-style mountain bike course remain the same, the run is now a two-lap affair with some extra challenges that stays closer to the event village for spectator enjoyment.
Follow all the action live on Facebook.com/XTERRAEurope.
XTERRA QUEBEC PREVIEW
XTERRA Quebec, the penultimate event on the XTERRA Pan America Tour, takes place Saturday at Lac Delage in the French-speaking region of Quebec City, Canada.
It’s the 11th of 12 races on the Tour and has attracted a stellar field of elite athletes looking to hold position or move up in the rankings prior to the finale at the XTERRA Pan American Championship race in Utah, September 15.
While this is the fifth edition of XTERRA Quebec, it’s the first year the race has been designated as an XTERRA World Tour major. As such, it provides a chance for amateur athletes in the region to secure one of the 15 qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds.
In the men’s elite race, reigning and two-time XTERRA Pan America Tour Champion Josiah Middaugh highlights a strong field that includes each of the top five ranked athletes on Tour. Middaugh grew up in northern Michigan, not too far from the Canadian border, but this will be his first-time racing in Quebec.
“All I know about the course is from the pictures I have seen online. It looks like some really good trails with a lot of man-hours behind them,” said Middaugh, who sits in third place in the rankings after winning XTERRA Mexico earlier this month. “It will be a different kind of course compared to what I am used to which will make it a good challenge. I’m looking forward to it, and I look forward to seeing our old friend Jean-Philippe and his famous mustache.”
Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, the top ranked Canadian on the Pan Am Tour last year, is from Quebec and was excited to jump back into the racing action but just broke his arm and won’t be able to.
“Still, this should be an epic race,” exclaimed Thibodeau. “The guy who design the course was a pro mountain biker, and the trails are incredible.”
Current Tour leader Kieran McPherson is anxious for another shot at trying to run down Middaugh and take the tape like he did at XTERRA Victoria.
“Feeling good and looking at getting one back over Josiah after a close battle at Mexico,” said McPherson, who finished second to Middaugh in Tapalpa. “This time we are back at sea level, so we can all breathe easy. My game plan, as always, is top secret but generally involves going full gas from the start and seeing what happens.”
Karsten Madsen, who sits in second-place in the Tour standings, said he’s planning on perpetuating his status as the top Canadian off-roader in XTERRA this weekend.
“I’ve been unbeaten in Canada or by a Canadian since 2014,” said Madsen, who won XTERRA Victoria twice and XTERRA Mine over Matter in 2016. “This year has been wild and filled with much success, but with it has come hard travel and rough illnesses. Still, I’ve tried to always put my best foot forward and deliver on the day. To win Quebec, I’ll need to deliver a performance of a lifetime, but on a course that suits my riding. Coming down to sea level I’m excited to set fire to the course and put a show on. I’ve been training out of Vail, Colorado with Josiah and will do so until the Pan Am Champs. Getting to train and learn from a man that I’ve looked up to for so long has been a great experience and I look forward to continue working with him after Quebec.”
Other elites of note include Branden Rakita and Alex Roberts, who sit in the fourth and fifth positions on tour, respectively.
In the women’s elite race the top three in the rankings are in Quebec and Pan Am Tour leader Fabiola Corona is hoping to ride the momentum from her home country win at XTERRA Mexico on August 4.
“My strategy for Saturday is simple. Swim as fast as I can, keep a good pace on the bike and improve on my run,” said Corona, who has 529 points, which puts her 26-points ahead of Kara LaPoint with just two races to go.
“This is my first time in Quebec and also the first time I’ve done nine races around the Americas in one season looking and fighting for first place in the rankings,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying the Pan Am Tour, as I love to travel and discover new challenging locations and exotic race venues. This has been an awesome season for me, and I am so thankful with XTERRA for the support. I love this sport more than any other.”
LaPoint has similar plans, to race well and close the gap on Corona in the standings.
“I’m feeling ready to go, and super excited about this race,” she said. “We checked out the bike course this morning, and it is amazing! Incredibly fun and challenging trails, with great riding conditions. I can’t wait to race on it! I feel that this course suits me particularly well, with a long and difficult bike and a tough run, so I am psyched to get out there and see what I can do. I’m ready to give it all I’ve got in this last go-round before the Pan-Am Champs!”
Kelli Montgomery, the XTERRA Costa Rica champ who has done seven of the last eight races and sits in the third-place on the Pan Am Tour, said she’s ready for the final two races of the year as well.
“I feel good, I’ve got my second wind for last two races of season,” she exclaimed. “I was able to get in some good training in July and feel like I’ve got my fitness back up. I’m looking forward to racing in Quebec. I haven’t visited there before so I’ll be driving there with my kids to enjoy the experience. We’ll get to spend an extra few days having fun post-race and it’ll be cool to have my own cheering squad for the race. I hope to have a strong race and place as high as possible to get a few more points for the Tour. This course should suit me as it should be like the terrain I ride at home in Connecticut.”
The one to watch for in the women’s race is Canadian Katie Button, an excellent mountain biker and winner of XTERRA Victoria in 2016.
“Happy to have a second Canadian race on the Pan Am Tour this year, especially because it’s a techy course,” said Button. “I’ve never ridden in Quebec before, but I have spent many freezing cold winter days ski racing there. It’ll be awesome to check out the area, and I’m feeling pretty good. It’s always so hard to tell with the scramble to get organized before a race, but I’m happy to have some running in my legs for this one so the plan is to hopefully not fade in the third round of the race.”
The main event gets underway Saturday, August 18, at 8:10am. We’ll have a recap of the day, results, and updated XTERRA Pan Am Tour elite standings posted to facebook.com/xterraplanet and www.xterraplanet.com by Saturday evening.
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