The 13th of 14 races on the 2017 XTERRA European Tour takes place Saturday in Zittau, Germany.
XTERRA World Tour Managing Director, Dave “Kahuna” Nicholas is on site and brings us this report...
One of the great things about XTERRA has to be the travel. You can go to every continent and find friends. We try to make these trips convenient, and this round from Poland to Germany was perfect. Zittau is just under 5 hours from Krakow. Almost all is on the A4/E50 through huge flat fields and forests and the occasional city. Much of it is like being on a racetrack. We were cruising nicely at 130 kph, or 80 mph, and a dozen BMW-Mercedes-Audi SUV’s went screaming past. We upped our speed to 140 kph or 86mph and were still getting blown away. You must understand these roads are smooth as a billiard table - they are wide and have broad shoulders. We finally upped the speed to 150 kph or just over 90mph and were keeping up with the majority of traffic but were still passed briskly by many cars. It was quite an experience.
We arrived here in Saxony in the city of Zittau, where XTERRA has been held since 2009. Klaus “Benno” Schwager and his team literally create a village where the workers (all friends and locals) live for the week. A city of tents, a kitchen that prepares three meals a day, sofas, beds, and always a ready beer keg and even a disco ball hanging from the main shelter. This allows them to work 24/7 if they wish. The venue is at the Olbersdorf Naturepark. As Benno explains it; “Nobody wants to say the long words Naturepark Olbersdorf Gebirge so we call it O-see."
This place was once a Soviet coal mine, and it was a huge one. When the Iron Curtain fell, the citizens of Zittau gathered support and created a fabulous park for swimming, hiking, biking, camping and just hanging out on the huge lawns. It was a remarkable transformation. To get here, the closest major airport is Prague, an easy one and a half hour drive away. Within a three hour drive are any number of great places; Dresden, Berlin, the great historical villages of Gorlitz and Bautzen in Germany, and even more in Poland and the Czech Republic. Part of the bike course actually goes into the Czech Republic. There are any number of neat, small hotels and guesthouses as well as bigger hotels in the area. The organization is superb and the trails challenging but achievable. Despite the ITU race this weekend in Canada, we have the biggest pro field of the year. That alone speaks of our XTERRA family and how great the situation here in Zittau is.
XTERRA European Director Nicolas Lebrun, previews the field and the trails:
The oldest race on the XTERRA European tour is here in Zittau/ Olbersdorf, Germany, and it will be a very big event. This is the next to last stop before the final and a gold race so most of the athletes fighting for points on the Tour will be here. This was very good news for our race organizer - the famous “Benno”- and XTERRA Europe, because even with the ITU world championship in Penticton Canada, we will have the best Elite field of the season so far. In the men's division, only Ruben Ruzafa and Arthur Forissier will be absent. On the women's side, Maud Golsteyn is taking a bike trip in Norway with her husband, and Morgane Riou is focusing on PanAm tour.
This race will also serve as the DTU Cross Triathlon Championship, so many Germans will fight for that title, including three elite women; young Anna Pauline Sasserath, Susi Pawel and Maria Doring. Anna Pauline already raced with us this year in XTERRA Malta and XTERRA Spain. For the men It will be a strong battle with 10 elite German’s on the start line.
Jens Roth is the favorite. He is tenth on the Tour, third in Greece and fourth in Spain and Poland. Peter Lehmann is coming back strong at the right time with second and seventh in the last two races. Hannes Wolpert has raced seven XTERRAs this year and will be ready for his home race. Max Sasserath was second in Malta for the first race and third in Spain in May, so he will be confident, with big improvements this season. Almost as old as me, Jörg Sheiderbauer came back this season with a fifth place in Malta, and this strong MTBiker will be motivated here. Stephan Radeck raced earlier this season and we know Christian Otto will lead the swim and was the third German last year at this race.
For the victory overall, Jens might fight for it, but we saw from previous races that he might lose contact with the fast guys on some technical mountain bike sections. Sam Osborne will be the one to watch on Saturday - he loves this race and almost caught Ruben on the run last year. Bradley Weiss is not coming from South Africa only because he likes Zittau; he was third last year, fourth twice in Europe this season and I’m sure he is returning stronger.
With a 40k mountain bike loop, Xavier Dafflon - our Italy winner and third on the Tour - didn’t chose this race by accident. He also knows he can win an XTERRA with a non-wetsuit swim losing 8’ in the water. François Carloni - our second in the tour ranking - chose to stay home after Italy to train and come here fresh. He likes this course, and will try to work together with Bradley and maybe Sam and Roger to keep minutes on Xavier. Roger will be strong and normally finishes the bike at the front. Those two young Frenchmen - Arthur Serrières and Max Chané - might have to work together again if they cannot follow Carloni and Weiss. If Xavier Dafflon has to make the long comeback after the swim, it can be with Xavier Jové, a strong cyclist and second in Spain, or Pavel Andreev, our Russian who was fifth last week in Poland and the Finnish champion. Number five on the Tour - Rui Dolores - had his best race last week finishing sixth at XTERRA Poland. Watch out also for the “Old Fox” Jan Kubicek, who knows the race perfectly! All together, there will be 32 men fighting for the title and a place in the top ten here in Zittau.
In the women's division, with 15 elites at the start, it’s a more classic field with the Helena/Brigitta battle. Brigitta Poor won the last race in Poland but is still 43 points back from her rival. She knows it will be hard to come back, but she won the European ETU Cross Triathlon Championship, so the sacrifice may have been worth it. Now she will need luck, because she must win the last two races and also have Helena miss the podium. I don’t think that is Helena’s plan - she is a fighter, never gives up, and could use this advantage to let Brigitta make a mistake. It's hard to know who will be the strongest here, but looking at the statistics, they raced each other times seven times this season and Brigitta was in front for five of those races.
Carina Wasle might be the deciding factor as she has already beaten both women this season; she beat Brigitta in Switzerland and Helena in Portugal and Switzerland. She was third last weekend, not far from Helena.
In the top five spots, I will also add Lizzie Orchard, who was second in Italy and fourth last week in Poland. Brits Louise Fox and Diane Lee will normally exit the water close to the front, and might love the weather forecast, which is leaning towards rain. They will certainly fight for the top ten and maybe even for the money in the top seven. Isabelle Ferrer, who broke her chain last week in Poland, was so disappointed that she will have extra power, possibly for a top five spot like in Greece. Also racing elite will be Lucie Materova, who was fifth in XTERRA Norway; Sabina Rzepka who was ninth in Poland; Leicester Johandri who was tenth in Poland; Anna Brychtova; and the three Germans.
For sure this race will be fun to follow and we might have few changes in the ranking as the top ten is always in motion. Follow us live on Facebook.
All-time XTERRA Germany Elite Champions
|2016||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Michelle Flipo|
|2015||Zittau||Ben Allen||Helena Erbenova|
|2014||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Kathrin Mueller|
|2013||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Jacqui Slack|
|2012||Zittau||Asa Shaw||Helena Erbenova|
|2011||Zittau||Olivier Marceau||Marion Lorblanchet|
|2010||Zittau||Cancelled due to flooding|
|2009||Zittau||Franky Batelier||Renata Bucher|
|2008||Zittau||Ronny Dietz||Renata Bucher|
|2007||Titisee||Franky Batelier||Carina Wasle|
|2006||Titisee||Sebastian Kienle||Carina Wasle|
|2005||Titisee||Nicolas Lebrun||Carina Wasle|
|2004||Titisee||Olivier Marceau||Katrin Helmcke|
|2003||Titisee||Nicolas Lebrun||Jamie Whitmore|
|2002||Titisee||Ronny Dietz||Ute Schaefer|