The XTERRA European off-road triathlon racing season rolls on with its fourth major in as many weeks at the 5th edition of XTERRA Belgium in Namur on July 10, 2021.
Just six days removed from their wins at XTERRA France, Maxim Chane and Solenne Billouin will toe the line on Saturday in search of one more.
“It will be a challenge for me to race so soon after XTERRA France as it was a really long and difficult race, and I am still quite sore from it,” said Billouin, who won her first XTERRA World Tour event in Xonrupt on Sunday. “As it is a small elite field, it will be a good opportunity to focus on gaining experience and focus on some of my weakness to keep improving.”
Billouin will be racing up-and-coming athlete Linda Van Vliet (NED), who finished third in her home country in 2019, alongside Ségolène Leberon who will be fresher than most after skipping XTERRA France last weekend.
“I decided to skip France as I raced XTERRA Czech and XTERRA Switzerland back-to-back in June, so I hope that break will work for me because the conditions in Belgium should be difficult with a muddy course,” said Leberon. “I like those kinds of conditions, and it will be good to fight for a podium this season. Every XTERRA competition is always tough, but I will definitely try my best.”
With the race also doubling up as the Belgium National Championship, Mandy Dammekens will have the extra incentive of chasing a national title, alongside Heleen Adams. There are also some very talented age-group athletes in the field with Perrine Goldman and Silke Baumer, who finished 11th and 12th overall last weekend at XTERRA France, and Camille Jobard who finished 8th overall at XTERRA Switzerland.
XWR* - Name, NAT
11 - Solenne BILLOUIN, FRA
43 - Linda VAN VLIET, NLD
72 - Léberon SÉGOLÈNE, FRA
74 - Mandy DAMMEKENS, BEL
118 - Heleen ADAMS, BEL
*XTERRA World Rank
In the men’s elite race Chane and 2019 European Champion, Arthur Serrieres, will face off for the fourth weekend in a row. Serrieres won the first two at XTERRA Czech and XTERRA Switzerland, but Chane got the big home country win and showed he can control the race from the front.
“Winning XTERRA France was a very big step for me, and it meant a lot,” said the 25-year-old from Falicon, France, who started racing XTERRA as a teenager and won the 15-19 division XTERRA World Championship in 2014 before going pro.
“I am not sure I can be back to 100% six days after that race but either way, XTERRA Belgium is well-known for its atmosphere, so I want to relax a little more and do my best on race day but without any pressure.”
For Serrieres, much depends on how he can recover from a tough race experience on Sunday.
“I am not sure how my body will react after suffering from hypothermia in France,” he said. “I am doing my best to recover and come to XTERRA Belgium as strong as possible but there are many unknowns going into this race.”
2019 XTERRA Belgium winner and long-time off-road elite, Yeray Luxem, will also be on the start line and contending for the National Championship title.
“I am trying to choose races where I believe I can contend for the win while also having my family with me – it is an important balance,” said Luxem. “I am well prepared for this event as I am in good shape and have been out on the race course to practice a few loops. The atmosphere of a home crowd and my two kids cheering will spur me on.”
The battle for the Belgian title will be intense with Sebastien Carabin, Lucas Van Deynze, Geert Lauryssen, Tim Van Daele, and Kris Coddens recently showing their potential to mix it up at the front.
Karel Dusek from the Czech Republic and Francois Carloni will also contend for the top spot.
XWR* - Name, NAT
3 - Arthur SERRIERES, FRA
9 - Maxim CHANE, FRA
14 - Karel DUSEK, CZE
16 - Xavier DAFFLON, CHE
17 - Sébastien CARABIN, BEL
19 - Yeray LUXEM, BEL
20 - Francois CARLONI, FRA
29 - Geert LAURYSSEN, BEL
43 - Lucas VAN DEYNZE, BEL
50 - Théo DUPRAS, FRA
54 - Samuel JUD, CHE
66 - Kris CODDENS, BEL
76 - Mathias CLOOSTERMANS, BEL
101 - Gaetan VIVIEN, FRA
110 - Brian TETARD, FRA
112 - Tim VAN DAELE, BEL
267 - Romaric LADET, FRA
829 - Bart COOYMANS, BEL
NR - Kristoffer VISTI GRAAE, DNK
NR - Colin FLEMING, BEL
NR - Koen K. DE LEEUW, BEL
NR - Steff OVERMARS, BEL
NR - Aaron COPPENS, BEL
*XTERRA World Rank
Alongside a talented elite field, many age-group athletes will also be battling it out across the full distance triathlon, looking to secure one of the 26 slots on offer for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui. Saturday promises to be an action-packed day of racing, with the sprint race and the duathlon race – a new addition in 2021 – also taking place.
This year, the race will be located just outside of the Citadel of Namur, at the nearby Port of Beez – allowing for more space following Covid restrictions. Starting with a 1,500-meter swim in the local river of La Meuse, athletes will head out onto a bumpy off-road bike course that promises to be fun, with the potential for wet and muddy trails adding to the challenge over the 36-kilometres. Winding along the Marche-Les-Dames cliffs, the off-road running route is also made up of interesting single track and with only one climb to tackle, athletes can settle into a good rhythm across the 10km run as they race for the finish line.
While the famous after party that XTERRA Belgium is renowned for will have to wait for another year, MC Chun de Stockel and DJ Jay Style will be bringing maximum energy to the event with their commentary and music adding to the atmosphere.
All-time XTERRA Belgium Elite Champions
2016 – Kris Coddens/Helena Karaskova
2017 – Ruben Ruzafa/Helena Karaskova
2018 – Francois Carloni/Morgane Riou
2019 – Yeray Luxem/Morgane Riou