XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas is in La Manga for the Euro Tour opener and brings us this update...
The last minute, new venue for Spain is great. Blue ocean, sand colored hills with short green trees and plenty of sunshine and warmth.
Team Legal-Sport has really done a great job in putting this new venue together. Jacqui Slack says "the course has a few very technical places - especially downhills but the rest is rideable and really nice." Two time European Champion Helena Erbanova looked at the first gnarly downhill and shrugged her shoulders " I will run the first 80 meters and then get on and ride" she smiled.
From the swim start it is about 110m to T1 with 60 steps and about 30m in elevation to deal with. Pure XTERRA. The bike starts with a 1K climb with 100m of elevation before hitting a fast and dusty/small rock downhill of about another K and a steep uphill after that. Think the letter N in italics. Up down and up again all in the first 3K. T2 and the finish are at the soccer and cricket complex in La Manga. I have not seen it yet, but everyone raves about the run and I will have more on it tomorrow.
We've got a good field of about 300 with the headline pros of two-time world champion Ruben Ruzafa and European Tour woman's champion Helena Erbenova leading the field. Helena will be challenged by Jacqui Slack, Kathrin Mueller and Maud Golsteyn. Coralie Redelsperger is starting her second year and as she improved through 2013 might put in a podium tomorrow. Chantell Widney is here from Canada along with several Spanish pro women who could surprise us all.
For Ruben the competition will come from the fast improving young Spaniard Roger Serrano. Ben Allen is hurt and will not start. Will Kelsay is here on Will and Jennifers Xcellent XTERRA summer vacation along with a dozen other pros from Spain and around Europe.