Former XTERRA World Champion Nico Lebrun will return to serve his second season as the technical director for the XTERRA European Tour in 2016.
During his racing career Lebrun was a major force in XTERRA racing both in Europe and in America. He posted 90 top-five finishes including 32 wins, four Euro Tour Championships, and the 2005 XTERRA World Title.
Last year Lebrun served alongside XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas as the European Tour’s first technical director.
“He’s done an amazing job,” said Nicholas. “He can see things from every angle and is a valuable asset to the racers and the race directors, alike.
Nico embodies the XTERRA lifestyle and the ‘Live More’ spirt of the sport. We really couldn’t be happier having him in this position.”
We caught up with Nico this week to get his thoughts on this year’s XTERRA European Tour…
XTERRA: Nico, first tell us how you earned this role as technical director for XTERRA Europe?
Nico Lebrun: First, for those who know a little bit about my story, sport saved my life so I will always be thankful to the sporting world. XTERRA is the second step. XTERRA allowed me to live the dream of being a professional athlete. Then you need luck and imagination! I knew I wanted to retire at 40. I’ve organized a lot of races to be able to understand the vision of an event as both a racer and an organizer. XTERRA in Europe had been growing fantastically and needed someone in this role so XTERRA CEO Tom Kiely created this position in Europe and let me run with it.
XT: What is your role as the technical director?
NL: During the winter, I start exchanging information with organizers about their event. If it's a new one sometimes I’ll go visit them to check the area and the course to get an idea of the future event. For the older races the goal is to improve on the previous year and raise the quality level higher and higher. On race week I help with the course marking, and check to make sure everything is ready for raceday. On the day of the event I oversee the action, post updates to social media, and write reports for the XTERRA websites. After then event I put together an evaluation of the race for the organizers to help them improve for the next edition.
XT: What does it take to put on a good race?
NL: From the racer’s perspective I think having a real technical and fun mountain bike course is important. A course with some nice single track and some technical parts that reward the better mountain bikers. The location is also very important. It’s best to have a site with a beach or lake, T1 and T2, finish line, expo, and hotels all in a small area with access to an airport, train and/or freeway. The real key to a good race, however, is always the local crew. You need a group of motivated people ready to work at night, and have a passion to make athletes happy. They have to be proud of their region or area, with a good local implantation to open every door. An XTERRA organizer must be a multi-tool, ready to mark a bike course, build a transition, go on political meeting, find sponsor, use social media…it's all about people and passion!
XT: What do you think about the European Tour this year?
NL: We will have 11 races so it's again a very good edition of the Euro Tour. We don’t have Spain or England on the schedule this year but are working to get those two back and many more new events on the Tour very soon. We do have two new races this year in Poland and Belgium that we are really excited about. We have some very big races like Germany and France, and some are growing quickly like Portugal, Sweden and Malta. Italy is back, this time as a Silver-level race, and the venue is incredible. XTERRA Greece is moving to the Olympic triathlon site in Athens which will be a new adventure. XTERRA Switzerland will also serve as the ETU European Championship race, which is good for XTERRA, and I hope the weather will be the same as last year when it was perfect! The finale is in Denmark with the Running26 crew, a group of really motivated people who will now be more involved with us. In Denmark XTERRA is starting to become a real institution. So, lots of positive movement for XTERRA in Europe, and one point we are working on is to get an XTERRA Euro Tour winner’s jersey for all the age group champions. So, to all the racers out there, if you plan to win your age group, be sure to book the final in Denmark so you can take home a jersey!
XT: What races will you go to?
NL: I start in Malta in one month, then Greece, Tahiti (Asia-Pacific Tour but French Territory), Belgium, Swiss, France, Italy, Poland, Germany and Denmark. I will miss Portugal and Sweden; I must let Dave Nicholas think he is still a little bit the boss on few races ;)