There are but three races left in the 2016-2017 XTERRA European Series; Poland, Germany and the Final in Denmark. There are any number of possibilities for the Championship jersey for both pros and age groupers.
XTERRA World Tour Managing Director, Dave “Kahuna” Nicholas and the XTERRA European Team are in Poland and the city of Krakow and they bring us their first impression from the country's second XTERRA event:
"We are in Krakow this weekend. Today it is hot and muggy with temperatures today around 34C (93F) and about the same for Friday. The good news is weather for Sunday's race will drop down to about 22C (72F)," said Nicholas.
Our organizer Wojtek Mazurkiewicz has grown the event and his team impressively. Last year Poland had about 200 entries, this year we will have eight events with over 600 participants. There will be XTERRA swim's of 750m/1500m/3000m plus Charity runs of 7K and 21K. Then add five categories of kids races plus short and long distance XTERRA's and we have a Krakow XTERRA Festival that has the city buzzing.
The park is actually inside Krakow. The swim is in a calcium quarry. ,As mining continued the depth reached underground wells and the entire area began to fill. Today, with the white chalk base, the water is a beautiful azure in the sun leaning a bit towards teal in the shade. Because of its quarry heritage, youngsters love the thrill of jumping off the vertical 15m high cliffs.
XTERRA will start on a small beach at the lake and then have an uphill run, across a bridge over vehicle and pedestrian traffic to T1. From there, the bike does two loops and ends up at T2 well inside the park. The run is also two loops ending just under 10K. The courses are marked and ready to pre ride/run today and the finish build up will happen tonight and tomorrow. The Polish team will be ready to go on Saturday morning at 9am for the swim starts.
Krakow is a largely unknown jewel in central Europe. Perhaps the most famous citizen of Krakow was the hugely popular Pope John Paul II. Dating back to the 7th century you can still enjoy much of the medieval parts of the old town today in the 21st century. The old town must be visited with its huge market square. Wawel Castle and dozens of examples of architectural wonders make this city a walkers paradise. Myths say Krakow was founded when a young man defeated a huge dragon. You can see that dragon today at the castle and decide for yourself.
XTERRA European Director Nicolas Lebrun, previews the field and the trails:
For me it’s the most fun mountain bike loop in the tour - very twisty, with 80 percent on single track. It reminds me Richmond in Virginia, where I started XTERRA in 2001. It's the kind of mountain bike loop that you want to ride many times, to work every corner, find the best line, where you will have to shift exiting a corner. You wonder how fast you can go over the moguls - can I ride the tunnel ?! There are two zones on each loop with two different styles and a flat and easy connection in between to let you drink and eat.
The run has fun parts too - be ready to use your hands as you will need to climb. The swim lake is 23C today. Poland like most of Europe was pretty hot last month and you might swim without wet suit in this special place, this old mine, now turned in to a lake.
On the woman’s race, we have a very strong field with 15 elite athletes.
I will start with our locals, who will not fight for the victory, but a place in the top ten and will have a lot of support during the day. Anna Tomica Raced AG last year and was 11th overall for the woman. She wants to start racing XTERRA more and is waiting to show us her improvements on Sunday. Sabina Rzepka used to race with us often. She was a DNF last year and I bet she wants to be strong here in her home country. Not far from Krakow, Kristina Lapinova SLK was 5th here in 2016 and with a podium in the ETU Cross Duathlon championship looks to be in very good shape. She is 18th on the tour with some points from Malta and France.
Close to Poland and leading the tour is Helena Karakova-Erbenova CZE. She has 51 points more than second place and won the first edition here last year. Second place is Brigitta Poor from Hungary, which shares no border with Poland but is not very far south. Poor has three wins this year and was second last year. It will be a big battle with her main rival Helena, and with her ETU title in Cross Triathlon, and a race who will fit her well, she is maybe my favorite for Sunday. Austria is also not very far from Poland so Carina Wasle, 4th in the Euro tour, will arrive after a podium in Romania last week. If she has no problems in the race, she will get back in the top three for the Tour. Nicole Walters is 7th and has not raced with us since XTERRA France where she had a fantastic race. As a very fast swimmer, she will probably be in the front for a while, and has a good chance for the podium. Lizzie Orchard NZL, after her come back in Italy and a solid second place, will also start in Poland. It’s good to see her on the list, that mean also she is now 100% fixed from her long injury.
Daria Rogozina is here from Russia. She struggled a lot in France with a very long race, strong. She is a cross country skier and suffers in the swim, but she won the U23 division at ETU Cross triathlon and Duathlon with a 5th and 2tnd places overall. Diane Lee from UK was 4th here for the first edition, she has not raced often this year but is always strong. Isabelle Ferrer from France is 13th in the tour, and might be slowed a little bit with a very twisty MTB loop, but she had time to train since Switzerland. Rocio Espada ESP, is 16th in the tour and is looking for a top ten with a strong race here. Suisse Angela Niklaus, was very solid in France, actually 19th on the tour, and is also looking some points.
Local Daria Radczuk will start also for the first time in Elite at an XTERRA Race.
|EU Tour Rank||last year Rank||Name, Country|
|1||1||Helana Karaskova-Erbenova, CZE|
|2||2||Brigitta Poor, HUN|
|4||/||Carina Wasle, AUT|
|7||/||Nicole Walter, UK|
|13||/||Isabelle Ferrer, FRA|
|16||/||Rocio Espada, ESP|
|18||5||Kristina Lapinova, SLK|
|19||/||Angela Niklaus, SUI|
|22||/||Lizziz Orchard, NZL|
|36||/||Daria Rogozina, RUS|
|/||4||Diane Lee, UK|
|/||11||Anna Tomica, POL|
|/||/||Leicester Johandri, RSA|
|/||/||Daria Radczuk, POL|
|/||/||Sabina Rzepka, POL|
The Race will also be exciting for the men’s race, with 18th elites at the start.
With the top four not present in Poland, it will open the race for many athletes dreaming of a podium on Sunday. Our last year winner, Yeray Luxem, will sadly not be here for some personal problems. We hope to see him soon. My favorite for the race is Sam Osborne. I failed with the same prediction in Italy - Sam is strong, he is leading the Asia Pacific tour and I’m sure he will win one in Europe before the end of the tour, maybe this one.
Roger won Malta this season, he was back in better shape in Italy, and I’m sure he will love this race. I put him also as a potential winner. Jens Roth will be with those guys for quite a while at the front of the race. Can he expect another podium like in Greece? He has big potential, trains a lot and will also win one soon. Russian Pavel Andreev already won in Finland this year and is a 5 time winter triathlon world champion. He will be not first out of the water and might struggle to pass people on this tight and twisty MTB course, but for sure he will come back, maybe not for the victory but can be in the top 5. Arthur Serrieres showed some amazing results this year like in Spain and Switzerland. He had a bad day in France and Belgium, but on a good day he can be on the podium too.
Our best ranked on the Euro tour for Sunday, Rui Dolores from Portugal, will be happy with a top five, his best place was 7th at home. Oivind Bjerkseth took a second podium last week in Norway where he was also a big part of the organization crew, he will also struggle trying to pass a lot of athletes after a slow swim, but can be so strong on this bike loop. I think on the second loop with some energy left, he will come back for a top 10. Maxim Chane from France will not have this problem, he will not swim in the front, as Jens is here, but not far back. He is solid on the technical MTB part and will love this race. If he does not completely blow on the run, he can think again of a top 5 like his last race in Italy. Peter Lehmann from Germany was reborn like the phoenix in Norway! It was so nice to see him in second position on the Norway’s podium. For those who follow the tour, Peter had so much trouble this season. Now he is back and was 5th last year so there Is a lot of positive energy that should put him in condition to do it again.
Tomas Kubek from Slovakia started strong the season with a 6th position in Malta. He has raced less this year, so he might have lots of energy and is normally all the time in the top 10. Two Polish athletes will race in Elite, Mateusz Tylek was 22nd last year and won his AG. Sylwerster Swat is a new name for the XTERRA family, Only Kahuna Dave might know him. Mester Balint HUN was 11th last year, so he knows the race and can expect a top 10. Also 3 other French will take part in Elite, Theo Dupras his best was 8th in Switzerland, Christophe Betard, 3rd in XTERRA Tahiti this year and Valentin Genewe. And From UK Doug Hall, coming with his wife Nicole, will try to bit his best finish this season, a 12th place in Malta.
|EU Tour Rank||Last year Rank||Name, Country|
|5||/||Rui Dolores, POR|
|7||/||Oivind Bjerkseth, NOR|
|8||/||Maxim Chane, FRA|
|9||/||Roger Serrano, ESP|
|10||/||Sam Osborn, NZL|
|12||/||Jens Roth, GER|
|16||/||Arthur Serrieres, FRA|
|20||5||Peter Lehmann, GER|
|24||/||Theo Dupras, FRA|
|28||/||Pavel Andrev, RUS|
|28||6||Tomas Kubek, SLK|
|34||/||Doug Hall, UK|
|55||/||Valentin Genewe, FRA|
|/||11||Mester Balint, HUN|
|/||/||Bartosz Banach, POL|
|/||/||Christophe Betard, FRA|
|/||/||Swat Sylwerster, POL|
|/||22||Tylek Mateusz, POL|
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