Stars come out for XTERRA Switzerland
The sixth-annual XTERRA Switzerland Championship Saturday in the Vallee de Joux has attracted an all-star elite field from around the world, highlighted by reigning XTERRA European Tour Champions and current No. 1’s, Ruben Ruzafa of Spain and Brigitta Poor from Hungary.
The race is the eighth of 14 on the season and the first of four Gold races this year. More than 40 elites from 15 countries are on the start list including three of the top four men and five of the top six women in the current XTERRA European Tour standings.
“This is the first Gold race which means more points, bigger prize money, and all the big names,” said XTERRA European Tour director Nicolas Lebrun. “The ogre Ruben Ruzafa will be here looking to win his fifth in a row, but this time he’ll have more than 25 elites chasing him including a bunch of guys with a real shot at beating him across the line.”
Among the contenders is the Swiss rookie Xavier Dafflon, last year’s XTERRA overall amateur world champ, who had a breakout race in Belgium two weeks ago where he finished in second-place less than one-minute behind Ruzafa.
Last year’s runner-up on the XTERRA European Tour, Sam Osborne from New Zealand, will be making his Euro debut on Saturday after a fantastic early season on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour where he is the current No. 1 after wins in Saipan and New Zealand.
“Looking at the Tour ranking, François Carloni from France will love a non-wetsuit swim and can push Ruben on the bike, especially on the first loop, and in this short bike this year he might be able to start the run with the leaders and fight for the podium or minimum a top five. He needs big points to secure his second-place standing,” said Lebrun.
Bradley Weiss from South Africa has proven himself a perennial contender, but will again have to face a strong field. He was sixth at this race last year, but Lebrun believes he’ll finish in the top five Saturday for sure.
“Arthur Serrières had one good and one bad race this year,” continued Lebrun. “He had a strong 8th place last year here, and is now out of the stress of school exam’s and I expect he will be fast. Like him, a few other athletes will fight for a spot on the top 10. Xavier Jove will be one of them after his 2nd place in Spain, but the condition will not be good for him. Like Dafflon, he will not be happy with a non-wetsuit swim. Young Max Chane will love it, however, and with his 6th place showing in Belgium he is now full of confidence, knowing he can swim ahead and finish the bike with the best. Another Frenchman can be strong here, and he won two years ago, Arthur Forissier. He finished 5th at Greece against a strong field, so we know he is in good shape.”
Lebrun went on to say he expects the rankings to change a lot after this one.
“It awards bigger points and we’re missing the 3,5,6,7,8,9 ranked men so Dafflon could move up to 3rd, while Riu Dolores, Max Chane, Hannes Wolpert and Jan Pyott could all jump into the top 10. Jan was just married, and here at home in Switzerland I expect he’ll be plenty motivated.”
Rank Name, Nationality
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
2 Francois Carloni, FRA
4 Xavier Dafflon, SUI
10 Rui Dolores, POR
11 Xavier Jove Riart, ESP
13 Jan Pyott, SUI
14 Maxim Chane, FRA
15 Julien Buffe, FRA
16 Hannes Wolpert, BEL
20 Stephan Radeck, GER
21 Arthur Serrieres , FRA
26 Bradley Weiss, RSA
28 Jörg Scheiderbauer, GER
30 Arthur Forissier, FRA
32 Tomas Kubek, SVK
42 Tiago Maia, POR
43 Guillaume Jeannin, FRA
45 Doug Hall, GBR
47 Theo Dupras, FRA
49 Callum Hughes, GBR
NR Sam Osborne, NZL
NR Clèment Brière, FRA
NR Jacky Boisset, FRA
NR Maxim Danon,FRA
NR Anthony Pannier, FRA
FLIPO TO DEFEND WOMEN’S TITLE
The XTERRA European Tour has been all about Brigitta Poor and Helena Erbenova this year. Poor won at Malta, Cyprus, and Portugal. Erbenova won at Greece, Spain, and Belgium.
Neither, however, have raced against Michelle Flipo from Mexico, the reigning champion of this event.
“Brigitta was 6th her last year, and Helena wasn’t here in 2016, but finished 3rd two years ago in Switzerland,” said Lebrun. “Now, Helena won this race in 2014, but even with that she says she is scared of this race, but can’t explain why. If she wins, she will take the lead in the tour as only six points separate these two girls.”
Myriam Boisset-Guillot, who was third last year in an epic sprint with Renata Bucher, also poses a big threat to the women’s field.
“Myriam tries to balance between adventure racing and XTERRA and some 70.3’s, so we will see her XTERRA shape on this race,” said Lebrun. “Maud Golsteyn, who is in third place on the tour, will try to earn some points here to secure her spot. Morgane Riou and Carina Wasle are 5th and 6th in the Tour ranking. Carina won here two years ago and was second in Portugal and Belgium, she looks in perfect shape and will have lots of confidence. I see her in top 5. Morgane was 9th last year, and for sure wants to do better after her podium in Belgium.”
And, the Kiwi’s are coming! Lizzie Orchard, the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion, and Lydia Hale, last year’s overall amateur XTERRA World Champion, will add flavor and depth to the women’s field.
“And let’s not forget the local women’s favorite Ladina Buss,” added Lebrun. “She had a fantastic 5th place last year, she start with also a 5th place this year in Portugal, and I bet she has been focusing on this big event at home ever since.”
Rank Name, Nationality
1 Brigitta Poor, HUN
2 Helena Erbenova, CZE
3 Maud Golsteyn, NED
5 Carina Wasle, AUT
6 Morgane Riou, FRA
11 Nicole Walkers, GBR
16 Isabelle Klein, LUX
18 Isabelle Ferrer, FRA
19 Ladina Buss, SUI
NR Michelle Flipo, FRA
NR Myriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA
NR Sanne Van Paassen, NED
NR Lydia Hale, NZL
NR Angela Niklaus, SUI
NR Rebecca Kaltenmeier, GER
NR Elizabeth Orchard, NZL
XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas is on-site in Switzerland and brings us this update from the field…
We returned to the Vallee de Joux for the 6th time and Switzerland for the 8th XTERRA and found 30C and 86F hot weather. Our marketing director Kostas said it was hotter here than in Greece!
The bike will not be the same as last year, as race organisers didn’t had permission from some parts of the loop. It will still be two laps of the bike and two for the run. The run remain the same and includes a narrow, technical climb from the lake to a dairy farm, through the farm and back down to the lake.
Switzerland is not a technical course. This is for both the bike and the run. The run is among the most beautiful anywhere but basically flat with the exception of that last climb. Which means you had best bring your finest running legs because you cannot save energy here. It is a full sprint for 4K with the climb and descent the last K.