Race number eight, the first of the last four stops on the XTERRA European Tour this August, takes to the streets of Prachatice in the Czech Republic tomorrow.
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas is on-site and brings us this pre-race support...
It just keeps getting better and better. The Czech setup is absolute first class. The course is well marked and people are pre-riding and getting to know it. The fabulous hundreds of years old town square is shut down and transition, finish line, performance stage, tents, expo displays are all out and rocking. Old and young, spectators and athletes all hanging out sampling that famous, fabulous Czech beer. Well, not the young.
Earlier this evening there were three kids races and over 100 future XTERRA racers from about 5 to 14 took part. Great stuff.
The pro field is super strong. The undefeated Ruben Ruzafa is here and the subject of "who's gonna take him down" is spoken in hushed tones. Last years Czech winner Felix Schumann was entered but cannot make it. USA Champion Josiah Middaugh is here along with Branden Rakita. Braden Currie who has pushed Ruzafa hard is on the line along with many time winner Ben Allen. Alex Haas is returning to action and the rumor of a few very fast, young Czech riders has surfaced to support the always fast local hero Jan Kubicek.
Equally strong is the womens field. One has to look at Czech and two-time European Champion Helena Erbenova as the favorite in her home country - but Kathrin Mueller has won three this year. Carina Wasle has two seconds in a row and wants the top step badly, and American star Suzie Snyder brings her game to Europe. Renata Bucher and Maude Golsteyn from the Aloha Racing team are always dangerous and returning is Brit Jacqui Slack.
The weather has been great with a bit of rain Thursday night, but today was great and things look a bit better for tomorrows race day with only a 30% chance of showers. No matter what the weather, we can expect a hard fought battle in the mountains on Saturday.