The third and fourth championship events in the XTERRA European Tour take place on back-to-back weekends in the Czech Republic and Germany on August 4 and August 11.
"The Euro Tour has been hard fought and is tight for both the elite men and women. The top four men are separated by a scant 56 points and everyone in the top 10 is entered in both races," said XTERRA managing director "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas. "The women are just as tight with the top five separated by just 57 points and yes, the top 10 are all entered and ready to do battle."
2012 XTERRA EURO TOUR STANDINGS - TOP 5 AFTER 2
|1||Nico Lebrun, FRA||100||82||182|
|2||Alexander Haas, GER||82||90||172|
|3||Ben Allen, AUS||90||49||139|
|4||Francois Carloni, FRA||63||63||126|
|5||Asa Shaw, GBR||DNR||100||100|
|1||Helena Erbenova, CZE||90||100||190|
|2||Jacqui Slack, GBR||100||82||182|
|3||Renata Bucher, SUI||63||90||153|
|4||Carina Wasle, AUT||69||75||144|
|5||Maud Golsteyn, NED||75||58||133|
NICHOLAS' ON THE WOMEN'S CHASE
Helena Erbanova (pictured) burst onto the scene last year at the Czech race. We knew she was fast as she had finished first overall at a smaller Czech Tour race that year. She ended the season strong being on the podium in Czech, Germany and Switzerland and finished an amazing 3rd at Maui in her first visit. This year she has a 2nd in Italy and her breakthrough win in France just a few weeks ago. The future is bright for Erbanova.
Brit Jacqui Slack also got her first Euro Championship win in Italy and was 3rd in France. The Czech circuit is more her style, but remember it is Erbanova’s home course and she will not take finishing 2nd easily. Not included in the top 5 women is Marion “Bubu” Lorblanchet. Last years Euro champ and runner up on Maui, Bubu has had an injured foot and did not compete in France. Hopefully she is back 100% and this woman wins far more than she finishes second.
Renata Bucher will not be at the Czech race, opting to discover the charm of XTERRA Mexico instead. This leaves a podium spot open, and not to be denied are Carina Wasle, South Africa’s Carla Van Huyssteen. or Holland’s Maud Golsteyn. Van Huyssteen won South Africa but like Renata, hurt herself and while racing courageously, has not shown the European girls all she is capable of. Carina has been up-and-down so far this season and with warmer weather should love the hills of these two races. Maud is coming into her own and is gathering good points at every stop.
Nico Lebrun won easily in Italy but decided he was too strong, too early and took some time off training. Wouldn’t we all love to have that problem? His “not trained” form only got him 3rd in France and he leads the series. Ben Allen won it all early in the year in the Pacific, was 2nd in Italy but suffered in the mud at France. Ben will be looking to regain that early season form in Prachatice.
The big mover this year has to be young German pro Alexander Haas. He led off the bike in Italy only to be chased down by Lebrun and Allen and was 2nd overall in France. This guy is the real deal and with two straight podiums he is now ready to walk to the top step. Asa Shaw surprised me by leading the whole race in France; a remarkable show of strength. He is done with road tris and is concentrating on XTERRA. If he keeps his form he could easily be our first repeat winner of 2012. Another youngster who many people don’t know is France’s Francois Carloni. Carloni, who won the 20-24 XTERRA World Title in 2008, showed speed late last season and he has carried it over into 2012 with two 6th place finishes. If he can get his run going Carloni is easily on the podium.
There is a wild card coming back in the form of South African Stuart Marais. Stuart chased down Dan Hugo in Grabouw for 2nd place and rode and ran himself into 4th in Italy. He returns for the double header in Europe and is fast enough to put himself squarely into the points chase.
Have you noticed one star name not mentioned? Olivier Marceau led Italy handily before having problems and finishing 5th. In France his bike broke for a DNF. Never, ever count the many time European Champ and first Triathlon World Champ out of winning. Olivier is a first class act and still very, very fast. Also not mentioned are Belgians Jim Thijs and Yeray Luxem, France’s racing DJ Cedric Lassonde who is a mountain bike monster, Great Britain’s young Llewellyn Holmes and our two Slovakian pros, Tomas Kubek and Petr Mosny. Most of these men have put themselves in the top 5 at one time and could do so again.
Ready for more? In Czech, never count out local man Jan “Honza” Kubicek who was 3rd overall last year. Making a return to XTERRA will be Dr. Felix Schumann who was always up front. On the women’s side Hungarian Brigitta Poor has improved and is having solid finishes and we have two unknown but strong Czech girls in Ivana Loubkova and Hanka Kolarova who could surprise us all.
Figure into the mix that a lot of the age group divisions are seeing more and more competitors doing multiple races and the Czech and Germany venues are very central and easy to get to. There will be a lot of competition in the amateur ranks as these races will have big fields.
Are you among those entered? There is still time, so get online and get to this big XTERRA DOUBLE HEADER. You’ll have the best seat in the house.