The XTERRA European Tour is in Golega, Portugal this weekend and so is managing director Dave Nicholas. Here he tells us what it’s in store for athletes on Saturday…
A gorgeous day here in the middle of the country. The 3rd XTERRA Portugal will start at 2pm on Saturday and while everything looks great, there have been problems.
It has been raining here for weeks. Many of the fields the bike trails used in former years were completely underwater until last week and many are so muddy and clogged we are having to re-route the beginning and ending pieces of the course.
This year the bike will still be 32K but now more of a lollipop circuit rather than one big loop. The good news? All the interesting and more technical parts are still there and all the great, painted rocks leading the way are untouched.
The run course keeps the short, steep rappel section but stays closer to town. Organizers kept the distance by creating an interesting new section along the river that is much more technical than in past years.
"The only thing we don't know yet is where we will cross the river," smiled Jaime Rosa, the director. What he is talking about is we can't determine exactly where it will be until Friday when we see how far the river has dropped. "You can be sure your shoes will be wet" he said.
The pro field is solid. Leading male and last year’s European series champion Roger Serrano Selgado is here after a brilliant win over Ruben Ruzafa two weeks ago in Greece. The 3-time World Champ Ruzafa is here to make it three in a row and get back to his winning ways. Francois Carloni of France is here along with Yeray Luxem & Tim Van Daele from Belgium and Llewelyn Holmes from England. A host of new men pros are entered from Spain and Germany to keep things interesting.
On the women's side it looks to be a rematch between Brigitta Poor and Helena Erbenova - both of whom have one win each this season. They will face some tough competition from Myriam Guillot-Boisett and Carina Wasle. Maud Golsteyn returns to the series and Louise Fox is looking for another top five.
The city is filling with cyclists and the local folks are enjoying them. This gorgeous village is more accustomed to horse people as Golega is internationally known for its November Horse Festivals which draw over 100,000 people. The Feira Nacional do Cavalo has been held here since the 1800’s. Just over an hour from Lisbon, the whitewashed homes with red tile roofs sit in thousands of acres of farmland and roaming herds of sheep with classic shepherds and dogs keeping them together. Inspecting the run course this morning workers were harvesting cabbage, new corn fields are popping up, the potato crop is about ready to be picked and red poppy’s with yellow buttercups and daisies are everywhere. Because the city must ramp up for the huge celebrations there are ample small hotels and restaurants all through town. Prices in Portugal are low and the quality high. A good meal in a nice restaurant will be between 10 – 15 euro and everything you have heard about Portuguese wine is true. The highways are smooth and well-marked. If you are thinking of coming to Europe for a race, put Portugal on your list. Registration, the race briefing and the very nice pasta party happen tomorrow and I will have updates as it happens.