Having won two of the first three events on the XTERRA European Tour schedule Nico Lebrun and Helena Erbanova can clinch the 2012 Tour titles with a victory at the XTERRA Germany Championship in Zittau on Saturday, August 11.
This year's Tour counts the best three of five scores, and a victory tomorrow would make Lebrun and Erbanova perfect. Asa Shaw, who won XTERRA France, and Jacqui Slack, who won XTERRA Italy, are also in a position to win the next two and finish with a perfect score.
A wealth of European elite triathletes have joined in the fray, creating an exciting chase to the finish. "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas is on-hand to take in all the action and brings us this report...
The weather has been terrific here in central Europe for the Czech and German weeks. And if it is not, wait 10 minutes; it changes constantly.
All the tents, transition, everything is going up at a rapid pace at the NaturePark in Olbersdorf. The big city in the area is Zittau, but the park where the event is held is just a few K away in Olbersdorf.
The park was a Soviet era coal mine. When the Communism fell in 1990, the people of this area - the county is Gorlitz and the region is Saxony – took that ugly strip mine and started converting it to a public lake and park. The results are magnificent. The only remnants of the mining days are nicely placed huge shovels and equipment used back in the day. Rather like an industrial sculpture garden.
The pro field here is very strong. The only drop out so far is Belgium Jim Thijs, who was sick at Czech and had a miserable race and has withdrawn. He will be back for the final in Switzerland. I have not seen Marion "Bubu" Lorblanchet and do not think she will be here.
We have a few great additions to our usual field; Richard Ussher, world champ adventure racer and several time XTERRA New Zealand champ is here. The always fast mountain biker Nico Pfitzenmaier is back in Germany and perhaps most the most dangerous is Ironman Champion Sebastian Kienle.
We’ll be throwing them into the already strong field that will include points leader and two time winner in 2012 Nico Lebrun (France). The Shaw brothers (UK), Asa (winner in France and second in points) and Karl will be here. Alex Haas (Germany) has been no worse than 3rd this year and this is his home race. He arrived here early and is very motivated. Yeray Luxem (Belgium) and Ben Allen (Australia) had a great battle for top 5 in Czech and both are ready to rumble again. South Africa’s Stuart Marais was flat from travel in Czech but has stayed over and will be a contender here. Never count out Champion Olivier Marceau and the field includes about a dozen others who could all surprise.
Helena Erbanova must be considered the favorite for the women. She has won twice this season and seems to be getting stronger with each race. Maud Golsteyn (Netherlands) was super-fast last week in Czech and with her new bike on a technical course could repeat. Tiny Carina Wasle (Austria) finally had a more typical race last week and with the long climbs in Germany, she will be a threat. Jacqui Slack (England) won in Italy, has been fast all year and arrived in Zittau early in the week and has been scouting the course daily. Czech Lenka Cibulkova was 5th last week and is entered along with several German women pros. The sleeper is Kathrin Muller, an German ITU woman, very fast in the swim and she has two World Cup wins in Istanbul and Antalya in 2012.
The age group field is full at the closeout of 350 entries. All the serious challengers for the 2012 European Tour Championship are here as well as a strong field of German athletes.
Rego opens today along with a neat pasta party at the park just before the athlete briefing. Benno Schwager and his crew do a fabulous job and while the common folk are having their pasta he always arranges for sponsors and regional officials to have a swanky VIP hour.
Tomorrow as you cross the finish line the Erdinger non alcohol (or with alcohol) beer men will be handing out recovery drinks. What a way to finish!! After awards the beer will flow and salsa rock band Los Santanos from Dresden will play until the lights go out.
Believe me folks – these two weekends are super. Even if you discounted the two great races, the sights, the history, the culture, the food are all simply great and worth the effort. I don’t care if you are from the US, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Philippines or wherever, you would be hard pressed to fit in 10 days of great XTERRA experiences like this.
2012 XTERRA EURO TOUR STANDINGS - TOP 10 AFTER 3