On Sunday, July 18, XTERRA Italy Lake Scanno will host the fifth full distance XTERRA race in Europe in as many weeks. Considered one of the hardest events in the EU, the eighth edition is guaranteed to push elite and age-group athletes to their limits.
The heart shaped lake in the mountains of Abruzzo provides the perfect swim course to kick off the event, with its calm waters allowing athletes to get into a good rhythm. Eyes will be on the forecast ahead of the event, with potential for it to be a non-wetsuit swim if the afternoon mountain storms hold off this week.
The bike course is anything but calm, as the route traverses through iconic villages and up steep, long climbs. In the testing technical zones, the main focus is simply to stay upright and moving forwards, before reaching the top of the ski slopes and the mountains of the Abruzzo National Park.
The demands of the course continue, with the descent proving just as challenging with more steep and technical sections that require full focus and skill. South African XTERRA Hall of Famer, Conrad Stoltz, nicknamed the following section the “Brake Fluid Boiler” on Strava segments, giving riders an insight into its demands and reminding them to ensure their bike is in peak condition before attempting this course. The 30km loop features 1,350m+ of ascent.
The run loop continues on a similar theme, with the one loop course featuring 400m+ of climbing over 11km. After passing through the traditional village, the main test on the run will leave athletes gasping for air as they face a tough climb, with most reduced to a walking pace. At the halfway point, the course then follows some technical downhills and a fast last kilometre along the lakeside road into the finish.
In the men’s elite race, Maxim Chane will be heading into his fifth race weekend in a row and while XTERRA Lake Scanno is certainly a course that suits the French athlete, will he have the energy to deliver”
“I was in bad shape at XTERRA Belgium but still managed to finish second so that reassured me,” said Chane. “I understand now that my only fight is with myself and if I am at 100%, like at XTERRA France, then I can be the best. I am strong mentally so we will see how the body behaves this week. It is a race that I love, and this is the best way to express my technique on downhill mountain biking.”
After an incredible race at XTERRA France and a top 10 XTERRA World Ranking, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen will inevitably be fighting at the front with Chane. When asked what his thoughts were ahead of the race, he said, “I am really looking forward to this race because I have heard so many of my fellow racers talk about it. The bike course is really tough, and you have to push your limit on the climbs, but you are rewarded with an awesome downhill which is fast and fun.”
He added, “The run is going to pull some teeth! You have got to race smart and hard at Lake Scanno if you want to cross the line first. I will do my best to take the tape and get my first win!”
Barazzuol, who is back for more after his third-place finish in 2019, said, “I have good memories of Lake Scanno. Before doing triathlon, I had a friend that did this race and told me how amazing and hard it was. It was my second XTERRA and I am back again this Sunday where I will try to do my best. I am arriving from a long sequence of racing which I hope will help me arrive in good shape.”
XWR* - Name, NAT
9 – Maxim CHANE, FRA
10 – Jens Emil SLOTH NIELSEN, DNK
32 – Rui DOLORES, PRT
33 – Filippo BARAZZUOL, ITA
53 – Jacques MARTINEZ, FRA
55 – Samuel JUD, CHE
121 – Federico SPINAZZE, ITA
284 – Marco RINALDI, ITA
NR – Michele BONACINA, ITA
NR – Franco PASAVENTO, ITA
* XTERRA World Rank
In the women’s race, the battle will be between the magic Italian trio of Sandra, Marta and Eleonora. Having raced here in 2018 (3rd place) and 2019 (2nd place), Sandra Mairhofer will be looking to use her experience on the course to earn herself a spot on the top step and fight for her first XTERRA win.
She said, “I love the race at Lake Scanno and I hope to perform well here. I am a little tired at this point in the season, but we will see what happens.”
It isn’t just the fatigue or form athletes will be thinking about, but also the technicalities of the course. While ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion, Eleonora Peroncini is another favorite heading into this race, it may all be down to who handles the course the best.
While Peroncini comes off a strong win at XTERRA Switzerland, there are a few unknowns for her going into this race. She said, “It will be my first here and I cannot deny that the technical and hard elements of this course make me a little scared. I will certainly try to do the best I possibly can, and I can’t wait to find out what it will be like. Whatever the result, I know it will definitely be a super workout!”
This course will also suit those that can climb well, meaning athletes like Marta Menditto could do well here. The run loop will also suit Menditto and, after her race at XTERRA France, she now has more experience on how to tackle a longer course.
As we saw in XTERRA Belgium with Christine Verdonck, the age-group athletes will be on the hunt and looking to shake things up near the front.
XWR* - Name, NAT
16 – Sandra MAIRHOFER, ITA
17 – Marta MENDITTO, ITA
20 – Eleonora PERONCINI, ITA
* XTERRA World Rank
Find live updates from XTERRA Italy - Lake Scanno on XTERRA Europe Instagram.