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XTERRA European Tour Finale Set for Saturday
Since her XTERRA career started in 2004 Renata Bucher, aka "The Swiss Miss of XTERRA", has traveled the world and conquered some of the most beautiful and challenging courses on the planet.
Her resume includes 24 XTERRA Championship victories with wins in the U.S., Austria, France, Czech, Italy, Spain, Saipan, Great Britain, Japan, Malaysia, and Portugal.
On Saturday she'll finally get the shot to win one in her own country as the inaugural XTERRA Switzerland Championship unfolds in the city of Prangins. (Course preview video)
With a win, actually with a top 5, Bucher (shown here with Marion Lorblanchet) would also lock up her fifth XTERRA European Tour championship since 2005 (minus only 2007 when she sat out most of the season with injuries). Marion Lorblanchet is currently second in the Tour standings but would need a victory plus a sixth-place or lower finish from Bucher in order to steal the title away.
The sold-out event is the last race in this year's European Tour, and champions will be crowned. The men's race will also have special meaning for Olivier Marceau (pictured below right), who has represented Switzerland at three Olympic triathlon events.
"Olivier Marceau returns for this race and has been working and training hard on his mountain biking skills," said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. "He will definitely challenge Franky Batelier who returned to form by winning in the rain at Czech but was handed his only European defeat in two seasons in his home country of France by Nico Lebrun back in July."
While Lebrun is questionable to race on Saturday due to illness, Englishman Ian Leitch who just won XTERRA Japan will be on the start list and looking to continue his win streak.
Nicholas is on-site in Prangins and brings us this pre-race report:
The village of Prangins sits about 25 kilometers east of the Geneva airport, an easy 30 minute drive. The XTERRA course starts and ends directly on fabulous Lac Leman, the huge body of water that stretches from Geneva to the west for nearly 90 kilometers. In the morning, before the clouds settle in you can see fabulous Mont Blanc, all snow covered even in late summer, in the distance.
The swim will be 2 laps of 750K in the clear waters just off the transition zone. Nothing unusual, a bit chilly so wetsuits are in order, but not overly cold.
The bike course is unusual to say the least. Each lap is 17K with no big, long climbs as you might expect in Switzerland, but remember we are in the west, surrounded by France. Many short, steep climbs and a dozen different surfaces to deal with. Pavement, crushed stone, single track, lots of grass, jeep trail - it all happens on this course and throw in 4 or 5 water crossings, some you can ride, some you should not. This will be a fast course for the brave.
The run is also relatively flat with only one modest long climb. Some beautiful kilometers in a wonderful forest with the sun dappling through the tall trees. Lots of running alongside farmer's fields where you must watch your step as the terrain is very uneven and believe me, more than one will step into a hole and fall. The run, like the swim and bike, is two laps and the final 100m features 3 huge hay bales that every competitor must jump over. About 4' high and 2' deep - it is a great way to sign XTERRA to the end of the course.
For race day? Olivier Marceau is here looking very strong and resplendent in his new OMax 1973 clothing line. Bring money to Maui to buy some. Franky Batelier is back on his winning ways and this is definitely his kind of course. Local Swiss Miss Renata Bucher will be going hard to win her home race, but she lost to Bubu Lorblanchet last weekend on the road and Bubu (Marion) will remember and try to spoil the party.
More than 600 athletes will compete on Saturday. 325 in the full Championship race which starts at 2pm. Roughly 150 in the sport race in the morning and 100 kids at noon.
A fantastic way to end the season.
Learn more at www.xterraeurope.com.
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