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XTERRA Japan Championshp This Saturday
XTERRA JAPAN CHAMPIONSHIP ON SATURDAY
The XTERRA Japan Championship returns to the mystic forests in Marunuma, Gunma Prefecture on Saturday, August 30, for the fifth straight year. The location has been praised by competitors from all over the world as being the most spiritual and scenic spot on the entire XTERRA Global Tour.
“It’s Mother Nature at her best – a privately owned nature preserve set high in the mountains of rural Japan with wall to wall green – fir, ferns and birch, moss covered rocks, pristine lakes and streams, and some of the most technical single track in all of XTERRA,” explained XTERRA President Janet Clark. “Add to that the host hotel which is an old-style Japanese inn, complete with onsen (hot spring baths) – and you have the perfect setting for the XTERRA Japan Championship.”
Kiwi mountain bike standout Mark Leishman, who finished second at the XTERRA New Zealand Championship earlier this year, is making his second trip to Japan (he was 4th here in 2005) to take on Sam Gardner (7th in XTERRA European Tour standings) from the United Kingdom and a fine collection of Japan’s best off-road triathletes including Yu Yumoto (two-time XTERRA Japan Champ, last in ’05), Yasuo Takahashi (2006 Japan Champ), Takahiro Ogasawara (2nd here last year in first-ever XTERRA), and Kyoskuke Takei (2nd in 2006). Ogasawara, Takahashi, and Yumoto placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively at last year’s race behind Nico Pfitzenmaier of Germany.
Daniel Speight, an Australian age group athlete, had this to say about his experience at the start line in 2006: The XTERRA Japan Championship high in the ancient, fog-blanketed forests of Gunma Prefecture at 1400m altitude featured a muddy, highly technical course that truly personified the essence of getting down and dirty, XTERRA style! An international field lined up on the rocky shores of Lake Marunuma for the beating of the starter's taiko drum amidst a chorus of bamboo flutes. The boom of the drum was a nice cultural touch to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and remind you that you were in real Samurai country, and about to battle it out with the savvy natives on their home turf!
In the women’s race Swiss star Renata Bucher, a two-time European Tour champ and winner of previous XTERRA Championship races in France, Italy, Czech, Spain, UK, Saipan, and Austria –– is hoping to add Japan to her list. Bucher’s main competition will come from Japanese ITU pro Maiko Ohta and Saipan’s own Mieko Carey. Sadly missing this race is Jamie Whitmore, winner of the last four XTERRA Japan titles in Marunuma, as she battles cancer back at home in California. Keep up on her progress and send her your best wishes by visiting www.jamiewhitmore.com.
WEISS, DIBENS WIN XTERRA AUSTRIA
From the managing director of the XTERRA Global Tour, "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas...
The second edition of the XTERRA Austria Championship in Carinthia was fantastic. Despite rain almost all day, competition was fierce, the course a challenge and the location perfect. And out of the fog emerged a new star – aptly named Michael – but not Phelps, our new star is Michael Weiss (pictured, courtesy flickr).
In the days leading up to the event we heard about Austrian mountain bike phenom Michael Weiss being touted as a potential race winner. Conrad was in the States, Marceau still in China and Nico Lebrun was ill and had to cancel. So while three of the fastest men were absent, Franky Batelier, German Champ Ronnie Dietz, Felix Schumann, Jim Thijs and others were all in attendance.
The women’s field had World Champ Julie Dibens as the headliner with Renata Bucher, current European Tour leader Anna Bayliss-Scheiderbauer and local Austrian favorite Carina Wasle to challenge.
The swim start had been moved a bit to make room for the more than 200 entrants in the main event. There were over 500 including XTERRA Light, Corporate and team competitions. A tribute to the marketing and organizational team put together by Robert Latschen. As the athletes completed the first 750m lap, the sprinkles began. By the time the leaders were in and on their way for the 1K run to transition it was a bit heavier. Soon we had real rain – not a storm and the air temp was nice, but on a technical course like this it would make for some interesting riding.
At the end of the first lap Weiss led Batelier by just a few feet. This did not bode well for the Frenchman as he led the Austrian by over two minutes out of the swim. “I tried to stay with him on the second lap but he was very very strong” remarked the two time XTERRA winner. Indeed Michael Weiss was on a mission, spanking the field with a bike time seven minutes faster than anyone else giving him a full five minute lead onto the run. Batelier was not finished and ran hard but could only make up one minute. At that point he knew he needed to consolidate his second place.
Dibens, as is her method, blitzed the field on the swim and in typical English summer weather (cool and raining) had little trouble keeping her lead, while Bucher finished second more than six minutes back. Read more...
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XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR UPDATE
The sixth of six races in the 2008 XTERRA European Tour is the second French Championship race in Mandelieu on September 28th. In the men's overall, Nicolas Lebrun secured his third consecutive Euro Tour title already by winning three races (UK, Czech, and France) and placing second at Italy. With pros counting their best four scores in six events, no one could do better than that. In the women's overall Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer is in the lead but both Renata Bucher (the 2005 and '06 Euro Tour Champ) and Carina Wasle are within striking distance and setting up an exciting finale.
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