The penultimate event on the 2018 XTERRA European Tour will take place Saturday, September 1, at the Norejfell Ski & Spa Resort in Noresund, Norway.
XTERRA Norway is the 15th race of the season, which culminates at XTERRA Denmark in Mons Klint next Sunday, September 9.
At stake is the XTERRA European Tour title, and each of the top three ranked elite men on the Tour are on hand to chase the crown.
Francois Carloni is in the pole position with 485-points, 41-points ahead of Peter Lehmann in second and 55-points in front of Roger Serrano in third.
“Carloni has beaten Lehmann consistently this year, but a mechanical or a nutritional error could cost him dearly at this race,” said XTERRA European director Nico Lebrun. “Carloni will look to score good points and build a buffer going into the final race on the tour. Serrano is also in a position to win the tour. He will need some good results and some luck across the next two races but with Serrano – anything can happen.”
Serrano, who won the 2015 XTERRA European Tour title, is favored to win in Norway according to Lebrun.
“He will be first out of the water and will then be faced with two choices; race alone at the front or wait to ride with Carloni & make his move on the run. Those two also have to make sure they start the run with a good gap on Lehmann as the German is a solid runner. If Lehmann wants a second podium in six days (he was second last week at XTERRA Finland) he will have to fight with Dominik Wychera and Rui Dolores. Rui is one of the most consistent racers on the tour and will close the gap to the top five in the tour with a podium here in Norway. Wychera comes here with confidence following his first podium finish last week in Finland and will fight for another top three performance.”
Other elite men in the running include Henry Sleight from the UK, Tim Van Daele from Belgium, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen who is racing as an elite for the first time, and home country favorite Oivind Bjerkseth.
In the women’s elite race Carina Wasle, fresh off a win at XTERRA Finland, looks to wrap up the XTERRA European Tour crown and with a good result, she will.
“Carina should be able to relax and enjoy her race, as she just needs finishing points to secure the Tour title,” said Lebrun. “Jessica Roberts is here and will be her biggest challenger. Roberts was fourth last week in Finland and will fight hard from start to finish to see if she can catch Wasle.”
XTERRA Norway is a point to point event with a split transition. The swim start and T1 are at Kroden Lake, while T2 and the finish line is at the Norejfell Resort.
“The mountain bike course can be broken down into two parts, an initial loop with some climbs and descents featuring a mixture of singletrack and fireroads,” explained Lebrun. “Conditions are likely to be muddy and quite slippery in places. The second half of the bike is a long uphill climb to the resort, and athletes will have to pace themselves and manage their energy in this section or they could lose a lot of time. The ‘BOSS’ Ruben Rufaza recorded the fastest bike split last year taking just over 90-minutes to cover the distance.”
Once on the run, racers will climb, climb, and climb some more.
“It’s one big uphill,” exclaimed Lebrun. “The first part of the climb is fairly gradual, and you will be able to run before you hit the really steep part. Here you might be best to manage your energy by walking the hardest bits and saving your legs for a short downhill section along a ski run before the final 400m long uphill to the finish line.”