In Spain this Sunday we celebrate the race director debut of Roger Serrano, an elite racer by trade who won the XTERRA European Tour in 2015 and XTERRA Malta just last month.
“He promises to provide an experience like no other for the XTERRA Tribe,” said XTERRA European Tour director Nicolas Lebrun.
Tarragona, which will host the fourth of 15 stops on the European Tour this season, is an hour from Barcelona by train or car, and was once the capital of the Roman Empire in Spain.
Today, Tarragona is a place where history and culture are crowned with Mediterranean blue skies, blessed with beautiful beaches and complemented by an abundance of fine wine and cuisine.
“Don’t miss the visit to the Roman Amphitheater, the most impressive of Tarragona’s ancient remains, the Archaeological Walk (Paseo Arqueologico), the Balcon del Mediterraneo with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and El Milagro Beach, the magnificent Cathedral of Tarragona that was built in the 12th century, the Archaeology Museum with Spain’s finest collection of ancient Roman Art & the old fishing Village of El Serralo,” said Lebrun, who went on a scouting mission to Tarragona two months ago.
As for the race itself, there is intrigue all around.
“XTERRA Spain is going to be a challenging race,” said Lebrun. “Looking at the elites starting list, it is really difficult to predict the top three for both men and women. There will be a strong fight for the podium in both races.”
On the women’s side, we will again see a battle between Helena Erbenova and Brigitta Poor. They raced twice together so far and the score is 1-1 as Poor was the winner in Malta and Erbenova the winner in Greece.
“Brigitta was not 100% ready in Greece and Helena was incredibly strong coming from her adventure races in China, so who knows? For sure it will be hard for any other opponent to beat those two,” said Lebrun.
Contenders include XTERRA Thailand Champ Renata Bucher and the 2014 Euro Tour Champ Kathrin Mueller from Germany.
“Seeing Muller’s name on the start list of Spain means she trained for it. She is an experienced athlete and she knows what she has to do,” said Lebrun. “We are expecting her and Renata to fight for the podium!”
There are some Spaniards to watch as well. Aina Picas is a strong amateur who was second in her age group in the European Tour last year and will race elite for the first time. Sara Bonilla, who was 7th last year in Portugal, will also be in the race.
For the men, the big name is 3x XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa. Coming off a solid win in Greece, Ruben will be hard to beat. The two other spots for the podium are open and some really strong guys will be there to fight for it.
Jens Roth had a great performance in Greece and will probably be first out of the water, Max Sasserath will be there too having the taste of the podium from Malta. Both will need to fight hard with Spaniard Albert Soley, last year’s XTERRA Brazil Champion, who will be very motivated to perform well in his home country’s event.
“Arthur Serrieres was 11th last year on the European Tour and can also have a shot at the podium,” said Lebrun. “Jan Kubicek had a flat in Greece, and will for sure fight to forget this bad day. He is one of the guys that can be at least in the top five. Llewellyn Holmes, who was racing XTERRA for many years is also back as well as another seven Spaniards that we don’t know much about. They will race in the pro division this weekend. XTERRA Spain might be the first off-road triathlon for those guys and we are expecting them to be strong on the mountain bike.”
The swim in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea will start from a nice sandy beach. The water will be chilly, so wetsuits will be allowed. “Of course, you could race without it, but for sure, you will be faster with it,” said Lebrun.
The bike starts with a fast 5-6km on a flat section before the real excitement starts, with two-loops that have it all: single track, rocky areas, lots of turns, and fun downhills.
“It is a very nice loop on a dry pine forest. The terrain is not too extreme, but you can gain or lose a lot of time on this loop,” said Lebrun.
The run will take place in the same area and racers will pass next to a beautiful Roman water bridge. The course has some climbs and downhills and is also rocky and twisty. The finish line itself is settled under this bridge, which will be very unique.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire day might be the after-party, hosted under the shade of typical Mediterranean pine trees with excellent food and local beers.
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