On August 5th, XTERRA will head to the Norefjell Ski & Spa in Norway for the 11th stop on the XTERRA European Tour.
The main event consists of a 1500 meter swim, a 30k mountain bike, and a 10k run. The swim will take place in Krøderen and will consist of two, 750 m loops. The mountain bike course will begin in Noresund and climb to the Norefjell Ski & Spa through the beautiful forests and single track the country is known for. The run will head through the natural beauty at the top of the mountain and will test athletes with steep downhills
Athletes will compete for 26 qualification spots for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui in October and for precious points in the XTERRA European Tour. There is also a duathlon on offer and even a kids' triathlon, which will take place in the water beneath the hotel so parents can follow their children's progress. Youth will swim for 150 m, ride for 5k, and run for 2k.
XTERRA European Director and former World Champion Nico Lebrun gives us his thoughts on how XTERRA Norway will play out on Saturday.
It’s the first time in Europe that we will have a “climbing” race like we have in U.S. at Beaver Creek and Ogden. A lake in the Valley to swim, a loop about half way up, then a long climb to the ski resort on the bike and then T2 and the run up around the hills nearby. So, athletes who don’t really like downhills will enjoy this one.
For the women, Maud Golsteyn (NED), who is 4th in the rankings, can move into the 3rd spot if she can simply conquer the course. She needs 50 points to move into 3rd and with five pro women starting in Norway and 51 points awarded to the 5th place finisher all she needs to do is cross the line! Maud is here with her husband Lars on holiday to do a nice bike trip in this country that they really like.
Facing her will be Louise Fox, our XTERRA Finland Champion. They both only raced once together this season, and Maud won the duel. But Louise won her XTERRA, and that brings some confidence. She has also raced less and seems to be focusing on few races to be stronger. I don’t know the other three athletes racing elite with them. Nicoline Sorensen from Denmark, Tanja Hultengren Larsson DK was second in Tilsvilde part of the XTERRA Danish tour this year and Lucie Materova CZE who has raced with XTERRA as an age group athlete for several years.
2017 Rank Name, NAT
4 - Maud Golsteyn, NED
11 - Louise Fox, GBR
NR - Lusie Materova, CZE
NR - Tanja Hultengren Larsson, NOR
NR - Nicoline Rahbek Dam Sorensen, NOR
In the elite men’s race “The Boss” is here. I’m not talking about Kahuna Dave or Bruce Springsteen, but I’m talking of the racing Boss, Ruben Ruzafa. And why has Ruben come so far up north to race here? I have many answers, first, Norway is a fascinating country, somewhere you want to go. We all saw so many photos from this place. Second, he knows that a Running 26 event is always top quality. It may because of our points system this season where all races count. Knowing he will not be able to race Poland and Germany he had to get a few more points and make sure the Tour is in his pocket. Even with a big lead on François Carloni and Dafflon they could still catch him with wins in Germany and Denmark. So, yes, it’s also a strategic move.
Jan Kubicek (CZE), who was recently 3rd at the ETU European Cross triathlon championship, looks in very good shape. His last XTERRA was in Finland and he took second place, so he has had some strong results recently. He is 13th in the tour and will get back in the top 10 after this race. Oivind Bjerkseth from Norway is 12th in the tour, and will be the local hero. He was second at XTERRA Cyprus and 4th in Finland where he was not yet 100% fixed from a broken finger. You all know it’s not easy to ride a MTB with that, and Oivind is also helping to manage this XTERRA Norway, so he could a little bit tired.
Oivind is also educating me about the local pros. Kristian Rød is one of them. He won the Norway national cross triathlon champ in front of Oivind, but it was on a very fast and non-technical MTB course. Strong swimmer and runner, he might struggle a little bit on this more technical MTB track. This will be his first race as an elite. Danish Anders Bregnhøj has the same profile as Oivind, coming from MTB racing and struggling a lot in the swimming session. He already raced elite last year in Mons Klint for the tour final and in Maui where he was 18th pro. He has won some Danish XTERRA’s like Tilsvilde and Anders might be the top Nordic racer.
Geert Lauryssen from Belgium raced in this country where he did is best with an 8th place, Malta and France. Peter Lehmann will also race in Norway, and I am hoping he will be strong, he had so much trouble this season; injury, flat tires and last week in Italy he passed out during the bike, maybe hit by the sun, but had to DNF again. This young talented and motivated German needs some luck now!
2017 Rank – Name, NAT
1 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
12 - Oivind Bjerkseth, NOR
13 - Jan Kubicek, CZE
36 - Peter Lehmann, GER
NR - Tomas Matera, CZE
NR - Geert Lauryssen, BEL
NR - Anders Bregnhoj, NOR
NR - Kristian Rod, NOR
We also have some compelling amateur match-ups in store for us on Saturday. We presented you last week about who is fighting for the age group Euro Tour Jersey. One of the best of these contests will keep going in Norway with Didier Bucheler BEL vs Olivier Felmann LUX in the 50/54 category. Didier led from April to July but Olivier took over with a win Sunday in Scanno. They will be both here! Also, the 45/49 is very close with Arthur Winter from Austria vs David Boulous from France and Christophe Maury FRA in third all here in Norway.
Asking Oivind who else we need to look at, he said “Lasse Heino, Anders Mostue, Daniel Trøen and Kenneth Blinderen.” These guys were part of a TV show here in Norway called “Ekte Menn” (Real men) which aired in March and April. Four unhealthy guys who were challenged to change their lifestyle and as the final challenge they took on XTERRA South Africa. They will be back for another XTERRA here. Their coach from the program Stig Færø-Landlie will be racing and so will Truls Wagener, a well-known triathlete in Norway.
To learn more about XTERRA Norway, visit www.XTERRAnorway.com.
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