In Greece they’ll celebrate the second of 12 races on this year’s XTERRA European Tour at an exciting new location that has XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas chomping at the bit.
“Next week will be the 4th running of XTERRA Greece and we are in for big changes,” he said. “The first races were at the middle of Greece, in the mountains at Lake Plastira. This year, we are changing to a suburb of Athens and the site of the 2004 Olympic triathlon in Vouliagmeni. This is where so many XTERRA legends performed on the big stage. Remember Hamish Carter won gold in Athens, then won XTERRA Worlds a couple years later. Hamish still plays a big role for XTERRA in New Zealand, goes to all the races and is the ultimate ambassador for the sport over there.”
Other XTERRA legends that raced in the Olympics that year included Olivier Marceau (who was in the lead group off the bike and finished 8th), World Champs Conrad Stoltz, Eneko Llanos, and Julie Dibens, Canadian great Brent McMahon, XTERRA Mexico race director Javier Rosas, and a dozen more that would try their hand at off-road racing at one point or another like Bevan Docherty, Tim Don, Ivan Rana, Victor Plata, Tyler Butterfield, Susan Williams, and Samantha McGlone.
The swim and transition areas will be the exact same as the Olympic triathlons, but as this is XTERRA, the bike and run will be in the hills above the city.
“After several meetings with the Mayor we were able to secure the necessary permits,” said Nicholas. “I took a look at the prospective area with Kostas Kourmargialis, the race director, after last year’s event and it is stunning. Nico Lebrun went to Athens later in the year and he and Kostas have come up with a gem of a course that is in the shadow of the Parthenon and less than half an hour from the Athens airport. Tunnels will take athletes under the very busy street that runs along the ocean, and racers can expect lots of climbing and descending. You know if it is a Lebrun course it will be a fair challenge between technical and power.”
XTERRA Greece is sold out for this year, so those dreaming of racing in the Athenian Riviera best have secured their spot on the start list already or start looking forward to next year.
“This kind of venue is perfect for XTERRA travel. An international airport nearby, lots of hotels from 5 star to B&B's and a location that gives you full access to all the wonders of Athens,” said Nicholas.
A heavy pro field is assembling for the race featuring all of Europe’s best including Ruben Ruzafa, Roger Serrano, Francois Carloni, Kris Coddens, Jan Pyott, Brice Daubord, and Arthur Forissier in the men’s race and Helena Erbenova, Brigitta Poor, Louise Fox, and Renata Bucher in the women’s race. All told there are some 26 elites representing 13 countries racing. We’ll talk more about the pro race next week.
Meanwhile in Langkawi organizers of XTERRA Malaysia are setting up for a grand Asia-Pacific Tour finale that will pit the reigning XTERRA Asian Tour Champ Brad Weiss with his friendly rival Ben Allen who wants it back. Benny got the better of Bradley in Australia last weekend but Bradley took the title at this race in Langkawi last year.
The women’s race will be equally compelling with 2016 APAC Tour starlet Lizzie Orchard going for her fourth win in a row, but up against last year’s winner Myriam Guillot-Boisset (who won XTERRA Costa Rica last month) plus Carina Wasle and Jacqui Slack.
Of note, XTERRA Malaysia counts double points so gives all who race a good shot at moving high up in the standings if they have a solid race. That means guys like Takahiro Ogasawara, Brodie Gardner, and Olly Shaw will be shooting for the stars.
Learn more about the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour finale here.
In Brazil, the beautiful island of Ilhabela will host the third stop on the new XTERRA Pan America Tour.
XTERRA Brazil has long been one of the most unique and cherished events on the World Tour and will once again attract an international field of XTERRA Warriors for the experience.
We’ll have more info on all three races next week.