The XTERRA European Tour continues next Saturday, May 27th, in the unique city of Golega in Portugal.
It’s the fifth of fifteen stops on this year’s tour, and Jaime Rosa, the race organizer and his crew, promise to provide another great experience to the athletes of the XTERRA Tribe.
Golega is the town known as the ‘Capital of Horses’ located at the top of the Ribatejo and is home to many of the famous Lusitano Breeders. Every November and for ten days, it holds a festival dedicated to the worship of the Lusitano horse. This is one of the country’s most typical fairs, attracting thousands of people.
XTERRA's European Marketing Director, Kostas Koumargialis provides his take on the race:
XTERRA Portugal will be the fourth time in the 2017 European season Helena Erbenova and Brigitta Poor will race each other. When the two met up previously, Helena Erbenova won XTERRA Spain and XTERRA Greece. Brigitta Poor won XTERRA Cyprus.
Helena was very strong in the last two races and Brigitta thought of not even coming to Portugal. She was going to stay home, put on some miles, and get back in shape. But at the same time, she knows that in Spain she felt great and was leading before she crashed on the mountain bike course.
Helena is a real warrior. She gives everything she has in every race and fights from the start till the end. In Portugal things might be little different for her. As this race might be a non-wetsuit swim, Brigitta will be faster and Helena will need to push harder to come back behind her during the bike. Additionally, the run in Portugal is flat and better-suited to the Hungarian. So although the odds are in Helena's favor, this will be a chess game and nobody can predict the next move.
Two other girls will be contenders in the race as well. Ladina Buss will be at XTERRA Portugal for the first race of her season. Carina Wasle, who is returning to Europe after three wins in Asia this winter, will also be racing on May 27th.
Ladina was a surprise last year and was very strong in Greece, so we should keep an eye on her. Carina is more skilled and in better shape than the others. Additionally, she knows the course and was fourth last year just three minutes behind Brigitta.
It’s always good to see local athletes racing in their own country. Sheila Marques is one of them. She may know every corner of the course, have the crowd with her, and might surprise us all.
On the men’s side, who will be the guy to beat Ruben? Roger Serrano will be drinking beer with Ian Pyott in Switzerland as the first man at Ian’s wedding, so he won’t be in the running.
Yeray Luxem may be a contender. He loves Portugal. Yeray won XTERRA Cyprus earlier this year and looks stronger than ever, so this might be his day.
The second guy to keep an eye on is François Carloni. Carloni had a great day last year at XTERRA Portugal and he was able to follow Ruben for all the bike part and the beginning of the run. Not many can keep up for Ruben for that long. Carloni is coming from a third place finish at the French Championship, so maybe in Golega he might have a chance to be on the podium.
If we check back on the performance of some athletes back in Greece where there was a very strong field, Xavier Daflon stands out. In his first race as a pro, he came sixth in front of Carloni. Daflon is the amateur World Champion for 2016, he has a mountain bike background, and this mountain bike loop suites him well.
We should not forget the strong Portuguese field that is becoming stronger and stronger every year. Riou Dolores did an amazing job in Greece and Spain and finished in the top ten in both of those races. Portugal is his home turf, and I am sure that he is dreaming of finishing in the top five. Additionally, Tiago Maia and Octavio Vincente will be on fire as both have two XTERRA races already on their legs.
Some of the unique points of this race are the wooden sticks for the bikes in transition and the painted stones for the marking of the bike loop.
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