After an exciting and star-studded opener to the 2018 XTERRA European season in Malta last week, XTERRA heads to the stunning island of Cyprus this Sunday, April 22, for the second of three tour stops in the Mediterranean this month.
The race will take place in Akamas Peninsula National Park, a breathtaking site on the west coast of Cyprus with miles of steep gorges, wide bays, and rocky peaks. The hot sun and sandy beaches are similar to the heat and challenging conditions found at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, giving European athletes an insight into whether they have what it takes early on in the season.
Last weekends’ winners at XTERRA Malta, Brigitta Poor and Roger Serrano, have traveled to Cyprus in hopes of winning two in a row, and for Poor – to defend her XTERRA Cyprus title as well.
“Brigitta Poor must be full of confidence after her victory last week, but I don’t think she will sleep very well on Saturday night because of a certain Chilean girl who will be flying into Cyprus for this race,” said Nico Lebrun, XTERRA European Tour director.
Lebrun was referring to Barbara Riveros, one of the fastest triathletes in the world. The three-time Olympian was 5th in Rio, and she’s just as fast on the dirt. In the nine XTERRA races she has competed at since 2012 she has two wins (in Chile last year and New Zealand in 2014) and six 2nd-place finishes (three of those were in Maui). Last year, Riveros finished second to only Flora Duffy at XTERRA Worlds and she crossed the line more than six-minutes ahead of Poor, who was 4th on the day.
“Brigitta has the opportunity to take this race as a big test for the future and compare herself to Riveros, somebody she has never beat,” said Lebrun.
Lebrun added that because Riveros is doing this race for fun and to qualify for Maui, she may not be in perfect racing condition on Sunday.
“Barbara’s coach, Bret Sutton, has a training base here in Cyprus to take advantage of its perfect weather year-round and while I’m not sure what Barbara’s training log is like, she may have a lot of miles on her legs and arms thanks to Bret,” said Lebrun.
Another strong contender in the women’s race will be Britain’s Nicole Walters, who was sixth last week in Malta. The strong swimmer was leading out of the water and into transition before she flatted. Others of note include Cecilia Jessen from Sweden, Ania Tomica from Poland, and Ksenia Chernyk from Russia.
In the men’s race, XTERRA Malta Champ, Roger Serrano of Spain, will be joined by fellow countryman Victor Del Corral and France’s Max Chane, who were both in last week’s race and finished second and fifth, respectively.
“The question is, will Max try to take off again and get as much of a lead as he can on the bike - but this time with his pocket full of food - or will he stay with Roger, trying to learn from the smart Spaniard and maybe collaborate to manage Victor's running comeback?”
Lebrun says that even though the young Chane is in his training group, he has no idea what his race strategy will be.
“Max is a wild kid and you never know what he will do,” said Lebrun. “I was proud to be his coach after his performance in Malta, he showed us that he is very talented. With more structure he has the potential to do great things.”
Still, Chane has to contend with the experience and poise of Serrano, who crashed in last week’s race and still managed to come back for the win. Additionally, Del Corral’s podium performance in Malta may give him the confidence the strong runner needs to make a big jump.
In Sunday’s race, also look for Tiago Maia, Anthony Pannier, and Doug Hall to be in front out of the water while Clement Briere, Hannes Wolpert, Sebastian Neef, Emil Stoynev, Markus Benesch, Gregoris Souvatzoglou, and the veteran Jan Kubicek look to race their way to the podium.
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.