For the seventh year in a row we are back in this beautiful valley where the race will take you between lakes, green fields, happy cows and the most expensive watch factories in the world.
XTERRA Switzerland is the eighth of 14 events on the 2019 XTERRA European Tour.
The course in Vallee de Joux should be dry and fast, as most of Europe has a heat wave predicted for the end of this week.
As a result, the single lap swim might be a non-wetsuit race in the beautiful Brenet Lake. The two-lap bike is always one of the fastest in the tour, featuring beautiful single track along the side of Lac de Joux. The run is fast too with a flat lap around the lake with one big hill and descent at the end of the loop before heading out for a second lap. For more course details and information about the venue, click here.
In the women's elite race seven athletes will fight for the podium and valuable tour points. Perhaps the favorite is Nicole Walters from the UK. She was third at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship this year but suffered a lot at the next two XTERRA's at Lake Garda and Belgium. She finished second here last year and the course suits her, shorter and faster with no long climbs. A good result on Saturday should give her a much need confidence boost for the rest of the season.
We are likely to see some athletes making their first trip to the XTERRA podium, such as French triathlete Isabelle Ferrer, who placed seventh last year. This will be her first XTERRA of 2019, so she could well deliver a surprise result.
"I had a good preparation during the winter," said Ferrer. "I did a lot of balance work, and proprioception. Hopefully, I will see my improvement if not I will train harder till October for the World Championship. I would love to have a better result than the previous years in Switzerland.
Angela Niklaus from Switzerland was eighth in 2018. Racing at home always provides some extra motivation for a good result. She placed eighth at the 2018 XTERRA World Championships in Maui so if she repeats that sort of performance again, she will fight for the podium.
"This is my first XTERRA for the season," said Niklaus. "I have done a mountain bike race and another cross-triathlon but curious to see how I will compete with the other elites. This is also the Swiss Championship and I‘m looking forward to battle with the two girls from the national team. I have made some progress in my running and want to enjoy the race and go as hard as I can."
Fellow Swiss Ladina Buss sneaked inside the top 10 last year, and with the Swiss Cross Triathlon title on the line she will look to do everything she can to beat Niklaus.
Maria Doring from Germany is our highest ranked athlete following a victory in Malta, and with some more big points from Switzerland she can move into the top five of the Euro Tour standings.
"My preparation for this race went well," said Doring. "I hope to deliver a good performance and score points for the overall ranking. My plan is to not lose much time on the swim and then give everything I have in the other two disciplines."
French athletes Segolene Leberon and Camille Defer will look to reach the podium as well. Leberon had a bad experience in her elite debut in Belgium with a big crash and a DNF, so will be looking for some redemption. Defer might be Walters’ biggest threat and a certainty for the podium. She will have some time to make up after the swim, but she will ride strong and probably post the fastest run, although with a shorter bike, and an ‘easy’ run in Switzerland she may run out of trail to win this race.
"It will be my first participation at XTERRA Switzerland," said Defer. "Since XTERRA Belgium, I continued to work hard especially on my swim as I always lose a lot of time! I think it will be hard for me on Saturday because it's a fast race with a short bike part and I prefer when it's longer with more climbs. I am going to give my best and have a great weekend with the friends of my team, Team T-vert."
XTERRA Switzerland Elite Women
XET Rank/’18 DNK Position - Name, NAT
A strong mens field has assembled in Switzerland. The outright favorite has to be three-time winner, reigning ITU Cross Tri World Champion, and XTERRA Italy-Lake Garda winner, Arthur Forissier. The Frenchman’s racing is now really consistent and he can win on any kind of terrain. He will be really confident in Switzerland as he loves this race, he won his first XTERRA here in 2015, before winning again in 2017 ahead of Ruben Ruzafa, and then again in 2018.
" I am feeling great," said Forissier. "I want to be irreproachable. A race is always a race and I am ready for this one."
So, the question is, who can beat Arthur at XTERRA Switzerland?
Maxim Chane, also from France, will swim at the front maybe hold a lead on the bike but will struggle to match the foot speed of Forissier, but it could be enough to hold onto a podium position.
"My main focus is XTERRA France," said Chane. " I did a good block of training preparing for this event. XTERRA Switzerland is a good test for my performance"
Xavier Dafflon returns to race in Switzerland to defend his Swiss championship title. While this course doesn’t suit him, he can land a podium with a good race. Dafflon is the highest ranked athlete racing on Saturday and barring disaster will move into second position of the tour heading into the biggest races of the season.
"XTERRA Switzerland is special to me," said Dafflon. "This is where everything started three years ago. My very first ever triathlon! Since then, I have fully jumped into cross-triathlon and I’m enjoying a lot to practice this sport. I’m improving swimming (yes yes!) and running and keeping my mtb skills. I feel ready and confident for the race on Saturday with an extra motivation as it is the XTERRA in my home country!"
The course will suit strong mountain biker Theo Dupras from France. Dupras had a fantastic race in Switzerland last year, finishing fifth. It will be interesting to see 46-year-old veteran Cedric Fleureton race; second at XTERRA Tahiti earlier this year, he was fifth in Maui back in 2016, won XTERRA France in 2006, just missed Olympic qualification and for the last few years has been one of the best trail runners in Europe.
Swiss athlete, Samuel Jud is currently sixth in the European Tour rankings with a fantastic season so far and will look to continue with a top 10 at his home race.
"After the first races of this year and a lot of traveling, I needed to pause and clear my mind to set new goals and find new motivation," said Jud. "Knowing that XTERRA Switzerland will be the Swiss Championship in Cross Triathlon, I have three simple goals: beat Dafflon on the swim, the bike and the run."
The UK’s Doug Hall and Mathurin Boutte from France should be with leaders on the early part of the race. As good swimmers, this shorter race will suit them both well and I’m quite sure to see them in the top 10.
Pierrick Page from France was 15th last year in Maui, and if he starts his first European Tour race in the same shape he can also race at the front. Another French athlete Corentin Duclos will look to match his first top five result two weeks ago at XTERRA Denmark. Aurelien Lescure, a French road triathlete with many ITU world cup podiums is looking for a new challenge with XTERRA. We will also see lots of familiar faces in those 17 elites with Andra Zanenga ITA, Maxim Danon FRA, Romaric Ladet FRA and some new athletes, Philipp Reiner AUT and Andres Carnevali ESP.
The victory on paper should go to Forissier, but for the rest of the podium it is hard to predict. One thing for sure is that we are in for a great show in this beautiful location.
XTERRA Switzerland Elite Men
XET Rank/’18 DNK Position - Name, NAT