Arthur Serrieres from France and Sandra Mairhofer from Italy captured the 2021 XTERRA European Championship in conjunction with the 18th annual XTERRA Germany off-road triathlon with winning times of 2:39:01 and 3:06:07, respectively, on Saturday, August 21, 2021, in Zittau.
For Serrieres, who was runner-up to Bradley Weiss at the 2019 XTERRA World Championship, today’s win marks a successful XTERRA EU title defense after winning the 2019 race in the Czech Republic. It’s his 12th career XTERRA World Tour victory and fifth this season alone. For Mairhofer, it’s her second XTERRA World Tour win, she picked up her first just last month at XTERRA Italy – Lake Scanno.
The atmosphere was electric in Zittau, Germany on Saturday morning as elite and age-group athletes lined up for the XTERRA European Championship. The full distance off-road triathlon, consisting of a 1.5km swim, 37km mountain bike and 10km trail run, is one of the most anticipated events on the European triathlon calendar and it did not disappoint.
Elite Men’s Race
As one of the fastest XTERRA swimmers on the World Tour, Jens Roth was first out the water as usual after the two-lap swim. The other elites were not going to let him get away easily, however, with a big group including Will Crudgington (GBR), Michele Bonacina (ITA), Franco Pesavento (ITA), Maxim Chane (FRA), François Vie (POR), Lukáš Kocar (CZE) and Arthur Serrieres (FRA) not far behind.
It was only a matter of time until they hunted Roth down, with the chase group catching the leader by the 11km point on the bike. From there on in, those athletes whose strengths lay in the bike and were feeling good started to make their move. Kocar (pictured above leading the pack) was looking strong after his XTERRA Short Track win the day before and moved up to the lead by the halfway point.
Close behind, Danish powerhouse Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) and seven-time off-road triathlon World Champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain (pictured) were working together to close the gap, followed by the young and talented Francois Vie.
Kocar maintained his one-minute gap as he headed out on to the run, ahead of the chasing athletes who had now come together as they entered transition. As soon as Serrieres touched the ground, he was ready to push the pace and within 500 meters he was able to create a small gap on the others.
On the second loop, Serrieres once again proved he is the fastest runner around, establishing a gap of almost two minutes ahead of Sloth Nielsen and Chane who had worked their way up to second and third place. Kocar had fallen off the pace to find himself in fourth, with Ruzafa following in fifth.
With the fastest run split of the day (39:16), Serrieres crossed the finish line in first place, successfully defending his title as XTERRA European Champion.
Speaking after the race, he said: “With such a strong field here in Germany, it was a big battle out there today with many attacks. I had some small mechanical issues but managed to stay and finish the bike with some strong riders. My strategy was to take it easy on the downhills and push on the uphill which worked well!”
“On the run I just had to let my good run legs do the work. I am happy with my win, and I am now ready to go to the World Championships and see if I can win the title there.”
Sloth Nielsen (pictured), who has been improving race after race, finished in second place, and was pleased with his result.
“Second place here at the European Championship is a huge accomplishment for me,” he said. “I had a really good swim and stayed with the guys that I wanted to be with. I then worked well with Ruben and Chane on the bike. On the run, I pushed hard on the fast sections, but I suffered with cramps and was fighting to manage it. I thought there was a chance this might be my day, but Serrieres is such a fast and strong runner.”
Kocar rounded out the podium, having dug deep to regain the position ahead of Chane. He said, “I had a great race overall. On the bike, I was really good on the downhills, especially compared to the last time I raced here. I was in great form but made a big mistake on the third kilometer of the run and went the wrong way, losing about three minutes.”
He added, “I have three more races ahead of me and hope I can win at least one of those, but I am very happy with my Short Track win yesterday, and the third place today.”
Top 10 Men
Name (NAT) – Time
Arthur Serrieres (FRA) – 2:39:01
Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) – 2:41:58
Lukáš Kocar (CZE) – 2:42:17
Maxim Chane (FRA) – 2:42:46
Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) – 2:44:16
Arthur Forissier (FRA) – 2:46:06
Franco Pesavento (ITA) – 2:46:08
François Vie (POR) - 2:48:09
Xavier Dafflon (CHE) – 2:49:17
Karel Dušek (CZE) – 2:50:08
Elite Women’s Race
In the women’s race, a group of four women - Sandra Mairhofer (ITA), Diede Diederiks (NED), Solenne Billouin (FRA) and Loanne Duvoisin (CHE) - exited the water together, followed by Louise Fox (GBR), Carina Wasle (AUT) and Jindriška Zemanová (CZE) just 30-seconds behind.
Mairhofer was quick to take the lead on the bike and at the 11km mark, she was one-minute and 30 seconds ahead of Diederiks. Duvoisin was riding alone in 3rd place but was being hunted down by Morgane Riou (FRA), Zemanova and Eleonora Peroncini (ITA) who were working together to close the gap.
By the halfway point, Mairhofer (pictured) had extended a lead of more than two minutes ahead of yesterday’s Short Track winner, Diederiks. With Riou and Peroncini in 3rd and 4th place, Matilde Bolzan (ITA) had now worked her way up the field to join Zemanova. Known for her strong biking skills, Helena Karásková-Erbenová was coming in strong behind and looking unstoppable.
By transition, Mairhofer had established a four-minute lead, but she was not done pushing yet, gaining a lead of seven-minutes by the end of the first loop. It proved to be the perfect day for the talented Italian, crossing the line with a winning time of 3:06:07.
“I really enjoyed racing today and I am so happy with my win,” said Mairhofer. “I was feeling strong on the bike and gave it everything I had on the uphill and was managing the downhills carefully. On the run I felt great! Despite my lead off the bike, I was afraid that Diede or Helena might close the gap with their fast-running legs.”
Mairhofer will race next in the Italian Mountain Bike Marathon Championships and then XTERRA Trentino-Dolomiti Paganella on September 26.
Behind Mairhofer, the battle for podium spots was being fought. Having made her move on the bike, Bolzan arrived at transition in second, with Karaskova-Erbenova one-minute back, and Diederiks dropping back to fourth.
Having shown her running ability in yesterday’s Short Track, Diederiks (pictured) enjoyed a battle with Karaskova-Erbenova as they finished the first loop together. She managed to pull ahead of the five-time XTERRA European Tour Champion from the Czech athlete to finish second. Riou was happy to finish fourth, having recently returned to racing after injury.
Diederiks said she loved her first XTERRA weekend and was happy with her runner-up finish today.
“My strong result in the Short Track gave me some extra power for my race today,” said Diederiks. “I was riding with Marihofer and Duvoisin on the bike but then Mairhofer got ahead. I fell off my bike but even if I hadn’t, she was too strong to catch. I knew I would have to run really fast if I wanted to try and close the gap, but Mairhofer raced really well and deserved the win today!”
Crossing the finish line in third, Karásková-Erbenová was also really happy with her result. She said, “I was really fast on the downhills on the bike which helped me with my position and on the run, I tried to keep a good tempo. I am really happy with my performance today, and now I am looking forward to heading to XTERRA Trentino-Dolomiti Paganella for the European Cross Triathlon and Duathlon Championships, and a good end to the race season for me.”
Top 10 Women
Name (NAT) – Time
Sandra Mairhofer (ITA) – 3:06:07
Diede Diederiks (NED) - 3:12:22
Helena Karásková-Erbenová (CZE) - 3:13:03
Morgane Riou (FRA) – 3:14:38
Jindriška Zemanová (CZE) – 3:15:20
Matilde Bolzan (ITA) – 3:17:43
Eleonora Peroncini (ITA) – 3:18:22
Carina Wasle (AUT) – 3:19:56
Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) – 3:21:17
Emeline Azam (FRA) – 3:22:00
All-time XTERRA European Championship Winners
|2021||Zittau, Germany||Arthur Serrieres||Sandra Mairhofer|
|2019||Prachatice, Czech Republic||Arthur Serrieres||Morgane Riou|
|2018||Zittau, Germany||Bradley Weiss||Brigitta Poor|
|2017||Mons Klint, Denmark||Bradley Weiss||Brigitta Poor|
|2016||Zittau, Germany||Ruben Ruzafa||Michelle Flipo|
|2015||Cranleigh, England||Ruben Ruzafa||Lesley Paterson|
|2011||Zittau, Germany||Olivier Marceau||Marion Lorblanchet|
|2010||Sardinia, Italy||Franky Batelier||Melanie McQuaid|
|2009||Klopeinersee, Austria||Franky Batelier||Renata Bucher|
|2008||Sardinia, Italy||Olivier Marceau||Sibylle Matter|
|2007||Sardinia, Italy||Olivier Marceau||Eszter Erdelyi|
|2006||Villacidro, Italy||Nicolas Lebrun||Renata Bucher|
All-time XTERRA Germany Winners
|2021||Zittau||Arthur Serrieres||Sandra Mairhofer|
|2020||Zittau||Cancelled due to covid|
|2019||Zittau||Arthur Serrieres||Helena Karaskova-Erbenova|
|2018||Zittau||Bradley Weiss||Brigitta Poor|
|2017||Zittau||Sam Osborne||Brigitta Poor|
|2016||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Michelle Flipo|
|2015||Zittau||Ben Allen||Helena Karaskova-Erbenova|
|2014||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Kathrin Mueller|
|2013||Zittau||Ruben Ruzafa||Jacqui Slack|
|2012||Zittau||Asa Shaw||Helena Karaskova-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|