XTERRA Czech made an amazing comeback to the calendar in 2018, for this year it returns as the XTERRA European Championship.
The town of Prachatice host the biggest event of the European season with 75 Elite athletes taking the start on Saturday. Sunday sees the debut of the XTERRA Short track event with the only the top 20 athletes invited back for a second day of fast and furious racing.
Both races will have live coverage, so stay tuned in our social to get all info on how follow the events.
Elite Men Preview
50 elite men from 15 countries take to the start line in a highly competitive XTERRA European Championship. Looking at the current form book suggests five athletes with a serious chance to take the title.
Bradley Weiss from South Africa will look to defend his regional title from 2018. Second at the 2018 XTERRA World Championship and 2019 Asia- Pacific Champion he knows how to perform in the big events. He has been injured for long time and whilst he placed well last week at Challenge Prague, his current XTERRA form is unknown, so the first spot is not guaranteed.
"The season started really well, I won all four of my opening races," said Weiss. "Unfortunately this took its toll and left me with a bad injury to one of the lower bones in my left leg. It forced me to take two months off from running but thankfully I could still work on my swim and biking. I am very excited to restart my season with a solid result here at the European Championship. I really love the idea and hope I get the opportunity to race on Sunday's Short Track event. It definitely adds a new dynamic to the weekend and I am very excited to race this new format of XTERRA triathlon."
Arthur Forissier from France will look to add European Champion to his expanding list of titles. He won XTERRA France, Lake Garda, Switzerland and the ITU world championship for Cross Triathlon cementing his place as one of the best in the world on any type of course.
"Its really good season for me so far," said Forissier. "This will be my last XTERRA for the season as after that I will take some rest and continue my preparation for the World Championship in Maui. The Short Track race is going to be awesome, can't wait to race it"
Czech athlete Lukas Kocar will have the whole country behind him this weekend. He last raced at the ITU Cross World Championships finishing on the podium, before training specifically for this race. I’m sure he knows every rock and tree root by now!
"I had some very good results finishing third at the ITU World Championships and winning the the title at the Czech Championship," said Kocar. "I am little disappointed with my performance the last period but also hungry for a good result in Prachatice in front of my home crowd"
Frenchman Arthur Serrieres was just eight seconds from the win at XTERRA France. As one of the only athletes who can match Forissier, he is destined for a big title very soon. It will be hard to do it on Saturday, but Serrieres should be a certainty for the podium.
"I had good results in the first part of the season and want to continue the same way,"said Serrieres. "With such a big elite field, I aim for a top 5 or a podium. I will be in Germany in two weeks, Luxembourg and of course Maui."
We cannot forget Ruben Ruzafa, the Spaniard with three world titles and the recent win in Scanno. Ruben will be strong here, maybe in better shape than in France and will lead the race starting the run, but likely will not be alone like previous years. Ruben isn’t slowing down yet, but the young generation are stepping up to the The Boss!
The fight for the remaining spots in the top 10 doesn’t get any easier.
Previous winner of XTERRA Czech, Ben Allen makes the trip from Australia after a stint working as a life guard over the past few months. He has been training but his condition is a bit unknown, if he is fit and ready then a top ten position is possible for Allen.
"Happy to be back training and living the dream again," said Allen. "Definitely a big reality check coming from full time work as a professional ocean lifeguard. Racing to my potential and looking forward to getting back on some Euro dirt. "The Short Track is a wild idea, exactly what the sport needs to spice things up and make it interesting. Fast and furious fun! Bring it on..."
Rui Dolores is leading the European Tour, has won two races and hasn’t finished outside of the top 5. The Portuguese athlete’s consistency makes him a sure bet for the top ten.
"This will be my ninth race for this season and I'm very excited to be in Prachatice for the first time," said Dolores. "It is the Euro Tour Championship, the main event of the season where everyone will attend. I expect a great battle and I'm ready to fight with the other competitors."
Max Chane from France has had some yo-yo form this year. 11th in Switzerland, fourth in France, seventh in Scanno, so if a result comes every other race then it could be a good one. I see him finishing the bike with the lead group.
Swiss Xavier Dafflon had his best race of the season Scanno two weeks ago, narrowly missing beaten by Ruzafa. His form is improving, but this race will not be as hard as Scanno and he will have lots of athletes to catch after the swim leg, a comeback to the top 10 will be possible.
"As this will be my first time at XTERRA Czech I am looking forward to discover a new place, a new course and of course perform well," said Dafflon. "I am feeling good and all lights are green to give my 100% on Saturday and enjoy the Short Track on Sunday"
2018 European Tour winner François Carloni was strong in Scanno after disappointing race at home in France. Carloni should be happy with a top ten here in the Czech Republic.
"I'm very exited to race Czech with so many elite athletes," said Carloni . "It'll be an epic battle and I hope to be competitive to catch some of the best guys. I think the short race on Sunday will be funny and spectacular. I can be very strong if I recover well from Saturday's main race. I like short efforts"
Other athletes who will try to finish in the top 15 on Saturday include; Cedric Fleureton & Felix Forissier (France), Jen Emil Neilsen (Denmark), Sebastien Carabin (Belgium), Andreas Silberbauer (Austria), Roman Deisenhofer & Peter Lehmann (Germany), Karel Zadak, Ondrej Petr, Tomas Matera, Jan Kubicek, Tomas Jiranek & Karel Dusek (Czech), Samule Jud (Switzerland), Doug Hall (UK)
XTERRA Czech European Championship Elite men
XET Rank/’18 CZE Position / Name, NAT
*** Weiss, Forissier, Kocar, Serierres, Ruzafa
** Luxem, Dolores, Dafflon, Chane
* Carloni, Neilsen,Fleureton
Elite Women Preview
For the women 17 of the top 20 ranked athletes in the European Tour will start alongside additional superstars of our sport from around the world.
The biggest favourite for the title will be current tour leader Helena Karaskova. She won in Czech last year, Lake Scanno this year and wants to improve on her 2nd place at the European Championship in Germany last year. Racing at home could give her the motivation she needs or add some pressure, either way the experienced Karaskova will give it all for the podium.
"I have to survive from the swim as it will likely be without wetsuit," said Karaskova. "I hope for strong legs on the bike and enjoy the beautiful bike course that has lots of climbs and downhills and save some power for the run. With the strong elite field it will be great battle."
Morgane Riou from France will want to pick up where she left off. After winning three XTERRAs and two ETU Cross titles she is on a hot streak. She is coming back from a break so the current form is unknown, but Riou could upset the Czech party by hitting the top step of the podium.
Elenora Peroncini, Italy’s ITU Cross Triathlon world champion will race in Prachatice. With a win in XTERRA Portugal and several podiums this year, Peroncini should find herself on the podium on Saturday.
Penny Slater from Australia caused a huge upset in March winning the Asia-Pacific Championship in Taiwan ahead of the stars of our sport. She showed a huge improvement from last year so we’re excited to see her long trip to Europe pay off with a top 5 result.
"This season has gone well for me on the Asia-Pacific Tour with a win in Taiwan and a second place in New Zealand," said Slatter. "Although I have not raced for a while due to commitments back home, I am excited to see where my form is. This race has a very stacked field and the course is tough. But I really hope that I can be in the mix with the girls and show the hard work I have been putting in in training. This race is so iconic and I’m really looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere."
Also travelling from Australia, Jacqui Allen will influence the race. Second behind Slater in Taiwan and winner of XTERRA New Zealand this year. She has experience on this course too which should help her on Saturday.
"I’m very excited to be here for XTERRA Czech I love to come to the big races and can’t wait to mix it up with the best girls on the circuit," said Allen. "XTERRA Czech was one of my very first XTERRA’s and it’s great to be back where it all began. Michal and the team have put in so much hard work to make the European Championship a huge success and I’m thrilled to be back racing on the European Tour again"
Sandra Mairhofer from Italy was second two weeks ago at XTERRA Scanno, a result that shows what she is capable of ahead of these European Championship.
Brigitta Poor from Hungary will be back, hopefully with the form that saw her dominate in 2018. She has struggled this year and is still maybe not yet 100%, even so she could still compete for a top 5 position.
Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand will be racing for the first time since her podium in Maui last year. Her form is unknown after struggling with some injuries and without racing for so long. However, fresh legs may help her racing against athletes with 8 or more races in the legs.
"This will be my first race of the season," said Orchard. "I know XTERRA Czech is an amazing, well organised event, and am looking forward to see the course additions since last year and where I am at the European Championship."
Other athletes who will vie to finish in the top 10 on Saturday include; Loanne Duvoisin & Ladina Buss (Swiss), Matilde Bolzan & Marta Mendito (Italy). Nicole Walters & Bella Bayliss (UK), Laura Gomez (Spain) and Tereza Durdiakova (Czech).
XTERRA Czech European Championship Elite women
XET Rank/’18 CZE Position / Name, NAT
*** Karaskova, Riou, Peroncini, Slater,
** Allen, Poor, Mairhofer
* Orchard, Garcia, Duvoisin, Bolzan.