Sunday's XTERRA European Championship is held in conjunction with XTERRA England and the XTERRA World Tour, a global series of off-road triathlons spanning more than 30 countries that qualifies athletes to race at the XTERRA World Championship.
It is the last of 12 championship events in the 2015 XTERRA European Tour, distributes $25,000 USD to the top 10 male and female professionals, crowns XTERRA European and European Tour Champions, plus awards an additional $20,000 to the best elite performers in the series.
For amateurs it’s their last chance to score points towards winning an XTERRA European Tour title in their age division, and also the last stop in Europe where they can secure one of 50 qualifying spots into the 20th edition of XTERRA Worlds in Maui on November 1.
The main event combines a 1.5-kilometer swim with a 30km mountain bike and 10km trail run. It starts with a swim in the strictly private and extraordinarily clean spring fed Vachery Pond. The bike course has riders twisting in-and-out and up-and-down the dense tree-lined forests. The run is just as fun, crossing over creeks, hopping over logs.
"The course is fantastic, I really enjoy it," explained Conrad Stoltz, who is adding a fair bit of drama to the day as its his proclaimed last XTERRA race. "It's all natural, freshly carved, lots of turns, twists, roots, whoops, humps, some fair pedaling sections which is nice too and the run course is really cool. There’s this big ditch you have to jump across, there’s a bog that you have to run through and not lose your shoes, you have to jump over a tree. It’s not just running, it’s cross country. What I think XTERRA really embodies. Fun all around. Good event. Fun people. Woodstock atmosphere. The British crowd really gets into it, and a lot of South African expats come out and yell all kinds of stuff in Afrikaans."
Reigning and three-time XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa is in the field, looking to win his 15th straight XTERRA. Aussie Ben Allen, who won the England title here two years ago, is hell-bent on stopping him.
“I came to Europe to target Ruben and I was hoping to race against him at XTERRA Czech and Germany,” said Allen, who won both those races earlier this month without Ruzafa in the line-up.
“Now I finally get the chance to race him this weekend. I don’t really care who wins the race as long as I beat Ruben, that’s my objective. He’s undefeated. This course probably plays to his strengths, and Conrad’s too, because it is so mountain biking focused and such a tight and twisty course. I think to beat Ruben you’ve got to be ruthless, get in his way, not let him get passed you and try different things. I’ll stick to a game plan, look to limit loss on the bike and hopefully it comes down to a running race at the end.”
The women's race has plenty of spice as well with two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson taking on four-time XTERRA European Tour Champion Renata Bucher, who won the ETU Cross Tri European Championship in July and 2013 XTERRA England Champion Jacqui Slack who is excited to race on her home turf.
“Home country, super excited, and its fun for my family and friends to get to see so many great athletes from all over the world here,” said Slack. “It’s such a strong field. Of course, I think Lesley (Paterson) is the target. I’ll see if I can stick with her on the bike and take it from there. Although, I understand she’s been mountain bike focused so probably has this technical riding nailed by now.”
Spectators are in for quite a treat as well with both the bike and run courses filtering through the “arena” several times making it quite easy to track the action. Join the discussion by following along on Facebook/xterraplanet, Instagram/xterraoffroad, and Twitter @xterraoffroad using hashtag #xterraUK15. Race starts at 12 noon on Sunday.
Here's a look at the past winners of the one-day XTERRA European Championship race, last staged in Zittau in 2011...
Year (Location) Men’s Winner / Women’s Winner
2015 (Cranleigh, England) To be determined Sunday
2011 (Zittau, Germany) Olivier Marceau / Marion Lorblanchet
2010 (Sardinia, Italy) Franky Batelier / Melanie McQuaid
2009 (Klopeinersee, Austria) Franky Batelier / Renata Bucher
2008 (Sardinia, Italy) Olivier Marceau / Sibylle Matter
2007 (Sardinia, Italy) Olivier Marceau / Eszter Erdelyi
2006 (Villacidro, Italy) Nicolas Lebrun / Renata Bucher
XTERRA European Championship Elite Start List, as of 8.25.15
Rank, Name, Age, Hometown
3, Ruben Ruzafa, 31, Malaga, Spain
4, Jan Pyott, 34, Oberageri, Switzerland
5, Albert Soley, 28, Catalunya, Spain
8, Henry Sleight, 26, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
9, Tomas Kubek, 24, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
10, Ben Allen, 31, New South Wales, Australia
12, Nicolas Fernandez, 31, Pelissanne, France
28, Jim Thijs, 35, Huldenberg, Belgium
38, Llewellyn Holmes, 34, Somerset, United Kingdom
66, Matt Dewis, 23, Loughborough, United Kingdom
NR, Euan Adams, 29, East Sussex, United Kingdom
NR, Jimmy Archer, 43, Colorado, United States
NR, JP Donovan, 28, Nevada, United States
NR, Pete Dyson, 26, London, United Kingdom
NR, Chris Ganter, 37, Idaho, United States
NR, Doug Hall, 27, Bath, United Kingdom
NR, Jon Heasman, 40, Surrey, United Kingdom
NR, Richard Stannard, 41, Surrey, United Kingdom
NR, Conrad Stoltz, 41, Stellenbosch, South Africa
NR, Lee Williams, 31, Mid Glamorgan, United Kingdom
NR, Noah Wright, 41, Texas, United States
Rank, Name, Age, Hometown
2, Brigitta Poor, 26, Sopron, Hungary
4, Louise Fox, 35, Berkshire, United Kingdom
5, Jessie Roberts, 26, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
7, Karin Hansen, 34, Lucerne, Switzerland
9, Jacqui Slack, 32, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
10, Lenka Cibulkova, Czech Republic
12, Myriam Guillot-Boisset, 36, Rhone, France
13, Elisabetta Curridori, 24, Sardegna, Italy
16, Renata Bucher, 37, Lucerne, Switzerland
18, Verena Eisenbarth, 30, Arthaz, France
NR, Emily Bashton, 35, Virginia, United States
NR, Genevieve Evans, 42, California, United States
NR, Belinda Hadden, 36, Wandana Heights, VIC, Australia
NR, Christine Jeffrey, 42, Ontario, Canada
NR, Hana Kolarova, 28, Czech Republic
NR, Nienke Oostra, 38, Angus, United Kingdom
NR, Daz Parker, 47, London, United Kingdom
NR, Lesley Paterson, 34, Sterling, Scotland
NR, Alena Stevens, 33, Slovakia
NR, Jip Veelenturf, 23, South Holland, Netherlands
Rank = Rank on the XTERRA European Tour (after 10 events)
NR = Not Ranked
FINAL WEEKEND FOR XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR
Only two races remain on the XTERRA European Tour - XTERRA Denmark on Saturday and the European Championship race in England on Sunday.
In the men’s elite chase for the XTERRA European Tour Championship title Roger Serrano sits atop the standings and needs only to wait for the formal announcement.
While there are two racers on the Tour – Francois Carloni and Ruben Ruzafa - that could potentially score more points in the final two races and pass Serrano, neither have it in their sights. Carloni is getting married this weekend and will not race and Ruzafa would need to compete at Denmark on Saturday before his scheduled appearance at the European Championship on Sunday but has no plans on doing so.
If that holds true Serrano is the champ, Carloni is safe in 2nd place, Ruzafa is solid in 3rd place, and Jan Pyott is looking good to keep his 4th place status. There will be a lot of movement below those four, however, with Albert Soley, Henry Sleight, Tomas Kubek, Ben Allen, and Nico Fernandez all trying to move up to a better spot in the top 10 by racing well in England, while Kris Coddens and Yeray Luxem try to do the same by racing in Denmark.
The women’s standings are solid at the top with Helena Erbenova securing her third European Tour Championship in four years by posting a near-perfect score of 617 (625 is perfect) with six wins on the year.
Brigitta Poor had a breakout season to finish 2nd in the Tour standings with three runner-ups and a big win at XTERRA Malta. Carina Wasle is solid in 3rd place, and will race in Denmark along with fellow Austrian Sandra Koblemueller. Meanwhile Louise Fox, Jessie Roberts, Karin Hansen, Jacqui Slack, Lenka Cibulkova, Myriam Guillot, and Elisabetta Curriodori will all chase points at the XTERRA European Championship in England in hopes of climbing up high into the top 10 in the Tour.
Download a PDF of the XTERRA European Championship press guide to view current Euro Tour rankings, past history, results, racer profiles and more. Click here.
Here's a look at the past XTERRA European Tour Champions since its inaugural season of 2003.
Year Men’s Winner / Women’s Winner
2015 TBD / Helena Erbenova (CZE)
2014 Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) / Kathrin Mueller (GER)
2013 Hector Guerra (ESP) / Helena Erbenova (CZE)
2012 Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Helena Erbenova (CZE)
2011 Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Marion Lorblanchet (FRA)
2010 Franky Batelier (FRA) / Marion Lorblanchet (FRA)
2009 Franky Batelier (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2008 Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2007 Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Eszter Erdelyi (HUN)
2006 Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2005 Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2004 Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Jamie Whitmore (USA)
2003 Royce Kortekaas (NED) / Jamie Whitmore (USA)
HISTORY OF XTERRA IN ENGLAND
The inaugural XTERRA England Championship race was held in 2000 at the sandy beaches of Minehead in Exmoor. That race was just the second international event in XTERRA history and it’s first-ever major in Europe. This year’s race will be the 9th XTERRA in England, in its fourth different venue.
Here's a look at the past elite winner's from XTERRA England..
Year (Location) Men’s Winner / Women’s Winner
2000 (Minehead, Exmoor) Dave Harrison / Kerstin Weule
2001 (Minehead, Exmoor) Royce Kortekaas / Rachael Gordon
2002 (Minehead, Exmoor) Mike Vine / Kerstin Weule
2006 (Neath, South Wales) Seth Wealing / Renata Bucher
2007 (Resolven, Wales) Nicolas Lebrun / Julie Dibens
2008 (Resolven, Wales) Nicolas Lebrun / Julie Dibens
2013 (Vachery Estate) Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack
2014 (Vachery Estate) Conrad Stoltz / Emma Garrard
Last year's top 10 at XTERRA England:
|Also: Beau Smith, Branden Rakita, Rory Downie, Grayson Keppler, Graham Wadsworth, Doug Hall, Asa Shaw, Rhys Davey|
|Also: Nicole Oliveri|