The last of five championship races on the XTERRA European Tour is today, September 8, at the XTERRA Switzerland Championship in Prangins.
At stake is the XTERRA European Tour Championship title for age groupers and pros from across the continent. The highest profile of these match-ups pits 2005 XTERRA World Champion Nico Lebrun – a three-time Euro Tour Champ - against Asa Shaw – winner of two of the last three big races.
XTERRA intern James Clarke caught up with Asa this week and brings us this report…
Shaw has come a long way over the last two years on the XTERRA European Tour and with one race left finds himself in a position to win it all. The course, which is flat and fast, might favor Shaw but you cannot count out Lebrun – nicknamed the “Professor” for his proven racing intelligence. Shaw, a British-born athlete, was raised in France and trains and competes for the Saint-Raphaël Triathlon club.
Q. How did you get into triathlon and what is it about XTERRA that appeals to you?
Asa: I was a swimmer at first and every summer I would do triathlons for fun. I started to really compete in triathlons at the age of 17. I love the XTERRA organization, the athletes, and mostly the atmosphere; it’s like being part of a large family, which for me makes it totally different from road triathlons.
Q. You are currently tied with Lebrun for the European Tour title. You were 24th overall in 2010 and 15th in 2011, what is it that you have done this year to get yourself into contention with one race to go to become XTERRA European Tour champion?
Asa: During the winter I injured my shoulder and so for a month I could not swim as much as I would have liked. Instead, I put more time in on a static bike at my house and I think that because of this I have made big improvements in my bike discipline this year.
Q. How important is the Switzerland Championship race to you?
Asa: It is an important race but at the same time no different from any other race. For me, it is all about enjoying the experience, soaking up the atmosphere, and trying to do my best.
Q. The course in Switzerland suggests that it might favor you with it being very flat. With Nicolas Lebrun being so strong at climbing, how do you see this working to your advantage?
Asa: There are no advantages as the gaps are harder to make up between athletes on flat courses, I will just need to be at my best. I hope that I will be far enough in front of Nico that it will be harder for him to come back.
Q. Will you go to Maui and compete for the XTERRA World title?
Asa: Yes, I have signed up to compete in Maui. I want to do my best on the day, but most of all to just enjoy the race. Every athlete goes there to try and win, being a world champion is what every athlete dreams of.
ASA SHAW BASICS
Birthdate: July 7, 1984
Birthplace: Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom
Current residence: Fréjus, Var, France
XTERRA experience: 4 years
XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR TOP 5 PRO MEN AND WOMEN
Pros count their best four of five finishes
100 = 1st, 90 = 2nd, 82 = 3rd, 75 = 4th, 69 = 5th, etc...
First Nat ITA FRA CZE GER TOT
Nico Lebrun FRA 100 82 100 90 372
Alexander Haas GER 82 90 82 69 323
Asa Shaw FRA X 100 90 100 290
Ben Allen AUS 90 49 69 41 249
Francois Carloni FRA 63 63 x 63 189
First Nat ITA FRA CZE GER TOT
Helena Erbenova CZE 90 100 100 100 390
Carina Wasle AUT 69 75 90 75 309
Maud Golsteyn NED 75 58 82 82 297
Jacqui Slack GBR 100 82 75 X 257
Renata Bucher SWI 63 90 X X 153
Dave Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA World tour, is in Prangins and brings us this report on the eve of the XTERRA Switzerland Championship…
Nico Lebrun and Asa Shaw are both here and keeping a very low profile. This is a mano a mano event with whoever finishes first being the 2012 champion. They are dead even headed into tomorrow with two wins and a second.
Helena Erbanova looks very fit and happy and it would take a complete meltdown for her not to be the 2012 XTERRA European Champion. The wildcard here is Bubu Lorblanchet, the 2011 champ, who was injured for most of the season. She is here and thinks she is about 90% ready. This will mean she could upset the apple cart race between Carina Wasle, Jacqui Slack and Maud Golsteyn. These women are racing for 2-3-4 in season points. Both Carina and Maud are ahead in points but must drop one score. Jacqui only has 3 finishes and can take everything she gets here. The worry is Bubu can finish high and perhaps take some needed points away from all three. Jacqui must look for a 4th overall to have a chance for second in the series.
The age group field is full of regulars. Only 4 of the groups have winners that cannot lose at this event. So many configurations and possibilities that almost all the top 3 in each age group are here to consolidate their place or hope to move up to #1.
The weather has been fantastic - as usual. Not as clear as past years but all that means is we can't sit and gaze at Mont Blanc. Sunny and warm for race day in the high 70's. Cannot wait to see how it all shakes out.
The biggest news is this will be the last year at Prangins. Local authorities will not allow us to cross the highways anymore but we are secure in moving the race just 25K away and up the mountain to the Vallee de Joux. An amazing small village that will now put the mountain in mountain bike for XTERRA Switzerland. Two neat lakes and several villages make up the valley. We will swim and have the main compound, transition and finish all at the same location near the smaller of the two. Accommodations from 4- star to small athlete rooms that sleep 2 or 4 for 25 Swiss Francs a night. Elevation is just over 1,000m or about 3,100' so this should not be a problem. Arrive early and the entire sports complex is open to you. 25m multi-lane pool, weight rooms, spin bikes, everything you could ask for.
Also on site in Switzerland was Kostas Koumargialis from Greece who is here promoting the new for 2013 XTERRA Greece Championship. We are planning on the first weekend in June, just one week after Italy. The event will be on the mainland of Greece in the mountains just a few hours outside Athens. Kostas will have inclusive packages for athletes that will include transport from Athens to the race city, entry, training, hotel, etc... He wants to make it easy for people to come and enjoy one of the oldest cultures on our planet. More to come soon on both new European events.