The 2019 XTERRA European Tour gets underway April 7 at XTERRA Cyprus, an island country rich in history, culture, and charm.
To tell us more about the destination and the course itself we’ve enlisted the help of XTERRA elite racer Maxim Chane. The 22-year-old from France established himself as one of the sports’ brightest young stars when he won the 15-19 division XTERRA World Championship back in 2014. Last year, he solidified his place among XTERRA’s best off-roaders with a career-best 2nd place finish at XTERRA Cyprus and an eighth place showing in Maui.
Here he shares with us his tips, tricks, and a pre-race training session for the season opener...
Organizers Tony and Nikoletta welcome athletes for the third year in a row to the beautiful Akamas National Park, home of XTERRA Cyprus. While the race will stay in the Paphos area, the venue moves to Agios Georgios harbor.
Agios Georgios is the very last town before entering the park, and with hotels and restaurants a plenty this will be a great place for competitors to base themselves in the week leading up to the race.
Traveling to Cyprus is easy, the island is served by two airports; Paphos and Larnaca. Paphos would be the preference as it is close to the race venue, however, it is a small airport with a limited number of flights from popular European destinations. Larnaca airport is much bigger and you can fly here from almost anywhere in Europe. Whilst possible without, I recommend you hire a car to enable you to fully explore the island. There is an abundance of hotels around Paphos and Agios Georgios with XTERRA Cyprus offering some special packages through their partner hotels (www.xterracyprus.com/xterra-cyprus-2019/).
The sea wall helps protect the new swim course within the harbor minimizing the risk of any cancellations as in 2017, with two loops for the standard distance event you can expect to wear your wetsuit with the water temperature around 16 degrees.
After the swim, athletes will leave this new transition, climb on the road to the entrance of the Akamas National Park to join the loop from previous years. The loop starts with a long climb on a rocky double track. Last year the best athletes took around 20 minutes to climb on each lap, so I would suggest pre-riding the loop to dial in your pacing to ensure you don’t blow up in the first 30 minutes of the bike!
From the top of the climb the middle part of the course undulates and traverses around a large valley with some moderately technical downhills but some stunning views overlooking the coast. This section finishes with a very technical steep descent into a very technical steep climb. Only a few athletes managed to ride this last year, most will have to push or carry their bike through this short 200-meter long section. The last part of the loop is a long fast downhill before a flat ride along the coast offering a chance to recover and to take on nutrition before turning left to ride the second loop. The bike course is rocky so I would suggest putting on some strong tires with some protection against the sharp rocks. You might save some time with a super lightweight tire, but you might also have to walk home! After completing two laps in the park you’ll return to the harbor via the tarmac road to finish the 38K bike leg.
The new starting area means a new run course. The loop is totally different for 2019. You’ll leave transition and run out and back along the coastal path in the direction of Paphos. It will be fast and furious with less than 100m of climbing over the 10K, but it is very rocky in places. The out and back nature of the course will make for interesting racing with athletes being able to see each other at the turnaround, some will be looking to make sure their lead is safe whilst others will be just happy to see their fellow competitors winning their battles against the course. Either way exercise a bit of caution on the narrow sections and look out for those passing in the opposite direction.
As for me, I’m really looking forward to racing again in Cyprus. Starting the XTERRA European Tour in the most southern point of Europe is perfect. There is sunshine, beautiful beaches, and really good food. After a long winter of training I can’t wait to test myself against the best athletes in Europe whilst enjoying a bit of a holiday at the same time.
My key training session in preparation for XTERRA Cyprus is an extended hill workout. This session is designed to help improve my ability to recover from a sustained high intensity effort such as the long climb on the XTERRA Cyprus bike course.
Extended Hill Workout
30-45 minutes of steady riding out to a long uphill.
Making sure the hill is around 3-5% gradient and not too technical – I want to focus on my fitness not my skills for this race.
4 x 8mins @ 90% of max heartrate (upper threshold)
Ride back down the hill for easy recovery (at least 3mins)
You can reduce the number and length of the repetition’s dependent on your level of fitness.
20-30mins easy riding. Perhaps practice some shorter technical sections whilst under fatigue from the main session. This will help you descend smoother whilst tired.