The XTERRA European Tour returns to Zittau, a famous town near the Polish and Czech borders that boasts some of the oldest buildings in all of Europe, for the 18th annual XTERRA Germany off-road triathlon on Saturday, August 17, 2019.
For the past 12 seasons Olbersdorfer Lake on the edge of Zittau has been home to one of biggest race set ups of the year with trade expos, entertainment, food and beer stalls, and a flurry of events held in conjunction with the O-SEE Challenge.
XTERRA Germany is also the 12th stop on the Tour and the last in a run of four Gold events, marking the final opportunity for athletes to score 100-point scale points in their chase for Euro Tour titles. After Germany, just XTERRA Luxembourg (Sept 1) and XTERRA Netherlands (Sept 14) remain.
As such, everyone who is healthy and still has a legit chance at the title is on the start list, including the eight of the top 10 ranked elite men on Tour.
“Up until Czech, Xavier Dafflon and Rui Dolores looked to be the clear favorites, but Arthur Serrieres collected big points on the way to winning the European Championship, putting him right into the mix for the Tour title,” said XTERRA Europe director Nicolas Lebrun. “As a result, Serrieres starts as the clear favorite for Saturday’s race in Zittau. We saw him run three minutes faster than anyone in Czech, so all he needs to do is stay towards the front of the race until T2 knowing that he can take on anyone for the win.”
On paper at least, the next best should be Maxim Chane, who placed 5th at the XTERRA European Championship two weeks ago, and third in the short track event held the following day which indicates his running ability is starting to match his swim and bike speed.
Dafflon, the current Tour points leader from Switzerland, should be able to take advantage of the tough mountain bike leg at XTERRA Germany which features hard climbs that play to his strengths.
“One athlete to really watch this weekend in Zittau is Lukas Kocar from the Czech Republic,” said Lebrun. “He was aiming for at least a podium at home two weeks ago and was on track to do so before a mechanical took him out of the running. He comes to Zittau looking for revenge with nothing to lose. He will not wait for anybody and will go full gas from the start. I think Kocar is perhaps the biggest threat to Serrieres in Germany.”
Rui Dolores (Portugal) and Ben Allen (Australia) also had some bad luck in Czech and will be looking for payback in Germany. Dolores struggled with food poisoning and Allen crashed on the bike while in the main chase group in Czech.
Germany is well represented in Zittau with Malte Plappert and Peter Lehmann, who were 11th & 15th respectively in 2018. Max Sasserath hasn’t raced much this year, but we know he has some good form and should be able to compete for the podium and Jens Roth will lead the swim and look to use his long-distance training to keep him towards the front of the race for as long as possible. Tomas Kerner and Maximilian Kirmeier complete the German Team.
The men’s elite field also includes 2018 European Tour winner Francois Carloni, who is sure to be in the mix up front, and Doug Hall from the UK who has stepped it up over the last few races.
XTERRA Germany Elite Men
|EU Tour||Zittau 18||First name||Name||Country|
In the women’s elite race, with Morgane Riou absent with an injury sustained in the XTERRA short track in Czech, the race seems to be Helena Karaskova’s to lose.
“She currently leads the European Tour after a string of podiums in 2019,” said Lebrun. “Karaskova has won twice in Zittau, the long physical bike leg and fast run course suits her abilities perfectly. She won’t have it all her own way and as we know anything can happen in XTERRA racing, but Karaskova should have the easiest path to a podium.”
Swiss athletes Loanne Duvoisin and Ladina Buss showed how strong they are in the Czech Republic two weeks ago; Duvoisin ran through almost the whole field for a podium in the European Championships, while Buss made up for an untimely puncture in the main race by animating the short-track event with an incredible bike leg before eventually placing second (behind Duvoisin!).
“I’m sure we’ll see both athletes heading for the podium, but the super-fast flat run could facilitate Duvoisin’s first XTERRA win,” said Lebrun. “After what she did during last race, she knows she can win even though she is not the best mountain biker. She swims good, is a very powerful biker and maybe the faster runner on Tour.”
Jacqui Allen from the UK should not be overlooked. The Brit lead until the last lap of the run in Czech, showing that she has some good fitness. She admitted afterwards she lacked the racing form that is often needed at the back end of these tough events, so hopefully the cobwebs have been dusted off and we’ll see Allen deliver a performance that saw her on the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship podium earlier this year. Her “student” Penny Slater, the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champion, will be racing alongside her coach again. Slater was 6th in Czech and will strive for a podium finish in Zittau.
2018 European Tour Champion Carina Wasle also returns to competition, hopefully rested and ready to create a surprise. She was 3rd in Zittau last year.
“Brigitta Poor also races in Germany, and the Hungarian won here in dominating fashion last year,” said Lebrun. “While she admits she is not in her best form just yet, a good showing in Czech shows she might be back to her winning ways sooner than later.”
Also of note are Italian up-starts Marta Menditto and Matilde Bolzan, who have the support of the Italian Federation and youth on their side so should have recovered quickly from Czech and be ready to chase another top 10. Other athletes who could mix into the top spots include Nicole Walters (UK), Lizzie Orchard (New Zealand), Ana Tomica (Poland), and home country favorite Maria Doring (Germany).
XTERRA Germany Elite Women
|EU Tour||Zittau 18||First name||Name||Country|
Follow the action Saturday on Facebook.com/XTERRAEurope.
All-time XTERRA Germany Elite Champions
|2018||Zittau||Bradley Weiss||Brigitta Poor|
|2017||Zittau||Sam Osborne||Brigitta Poor|
|2016||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Michelle Flipo|
|2015||Zittau||Ben Allen||Helena Erbenova|
|2014||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Kathrin Mueller|
|2013||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Jacqui Slack|
|2012||Zittau||Asa Shaw||Helena Erbenova|
|2011||Zittau||Olivier Marceau||Marion Lorblanchet|
|2010||Zittau||Cancelled due to flooding|
|2009||Zittau||Franky Batelier||Renata Bucher|
|2008||Zittau||Ronny Dietz||Renata Bucher|
|2007||Titisee||Franky Batelier||Carina Wasle|
|2006||Titisee||Sebastian Kienle||Carina Wasle|
|2005||Titisee||Nicolas Lebrun||Carina Wasle|
|2004||Titisee||Olivier Marceau||Katrin Helmcke|
|2003||Titisee||Nicolas Lebrun||Jamie Whitmore|
|2002||Titisee||Ronny Dietz||Ute Schaefer|