The charming and historic town of Golegã is set to host the seventh XTERRA Portugal off-road triathlon weekend in the gorgeous countryside of the Ribatejo Province on August 7-8.
Seven-time off-road triathlon World Champ, Ruben Ruzafa from Spain, who won this race five years in a row from its inception in 2014 to 2018, will face off against local favorite and reigning XTERRA Portugal winner Rui Dolores and a cast of others when the main event takes place on Sunday.
“I like this race and place a lot, it’s a beautiful country to visit,” said Ruzafa, acknowledging Golega as a brilliant spot for authentic Portuguese cuisine and home to the finest Lusitanos horses, who traditionally lead the front runner into the finish line on race day.
“There are some really strong athletes on the start list for this one,” Ruzafa added. “Francois Vie, in particular, has demonstrated some really good performances and I am sure he will be strong, and I expect Rui and Andres Carnevali to be fighting at the front too.”
For Vie, a promising young XTERRA talent with dual French and Portuguese nationality, the chance of racing in Portugal against a legend like Ruzafa is all the motivation he needs for Sunday.
“XTERRA Portugal is special for me as it was my first XTERRA,” said Vie, who finished fifth against a stacked field at XTERRA France earlier this year. “I have had a chance to recce the course and prepare myself well physically. I think the bike course will be the key point of the race and I will be racing against experienced athletes such as Ruben, so any mistakes could cost me a lot.”
Other notables in the men’s race include Felix Forissier from France (Arthur’s brother), long-time XTERRA racer Tiago Maia from Portugal who was third at this event in 2019, Kristoffer Visti Graee from Denmark, and the veteran Tim Van Daele from Belgium.
Elite Men’s Start List
XWR* - Name, NAT
4 – Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
24 – François Vie, POR
34 – Rui Dolores, POR
37 – Felix Forisier, FRA
53 – Tiago Maia, POR
87 – Kristoffer Visti Graae, DNK
122 – Tim Van Daele, BEL
128 - Andres Carnevali del Castillo, ESP
200 - António Barata, POR
260 - Octavio Vicente, POR
294 - Alejandro Salmerón Tenorio, ESP
NR - Alejandro Carrasco Sánchez, ESP
NR – Colin Fleming, NED
NR - Manuel Menendez Valledor, ESP
*XTERRA World Rank
The women’s race is led by another Vie, Francois’ sister Pauline Vie, who finished third in Golega two years ago.
“I will do my best here in my home country but this year I have definitely focused more on my studies, so I do not know what to expect with the result,” said Pauline, who will be competing in her first triathlon of the year. “What is really important is that I finish with a smile and feel like I have put everything into it.”
Louise Fox from the UK is also looking forward to a return to XTERRA racing. One of the highest ranked athletes on the start list, Fox also has experience on this course.
“I am really excited to finally have the opportunity to race XTERRA again after all the travel restrictions in the UK,” said Fox. “My numbers are good in training, but race fitness is a different thing, and this is my first triathlon since XTERRA Czech 2020. Most of all I just love Golega, and the way the whole town gets behind XTERRA so it will be a great trip regardless of the race outcome. Plus, they have the best pasta party on the tour!”
Like Vie, Beatrix Ferreira will also benefit from racing on home turf as she steps up to race elite for the first time after winning the 15-19 age group division at the XTERRA World Championships in 2019.
Elite Women’s Start List
XWR* - Name, NAT
47 – Pauline Vie, POR
163 – Louise Fox, GBR
244 – Beatriz Ferreira, POR
NR – Saleta Castro, ESP
The challenge itself starts with a unique, spectator-friendly 1.5km warm water swim in Lagoa de Alverca where athletes swim 750-meters, exit the water, run up the shore, and dive back in from a bridge for another 750-meter swim.
Up next is a 35km mountain bike that ventures from the village to the heath hills for demanding climbs and technical single track that weaves through the region’s agricultural plantations. The final leg is a completely flat 10km trail run that effectively doubles as a tour of the area’s vineyards and crops – from corn to wheat to sunflowers and tomatoes.
Those lucky enough to be in Golega for the weekend get a grand experience well beyond the race itself as the pre-and-post race festivities ranging from the pasta-party Louise Fox boasts of to the celebrations that carry-on long into the night have become part of XTERRA racing lore.
Find live updates from XTERRA Portugal this weekend on XTERRA Europe’s Instagram.
All-time XTERRA Portugal Elite Champions
2014 Ruben Ruzafa/Coralie Redelsperger
2015 Ruben Ruzafa/Kathrin Mueller
2016 Ruben Ruzafa/Helena Erbenova
2017 Ruben Ruzafa/Brigitta Poor
2018 Ruben Ruzafa/Brigitta Poor
2019 Rui Dolores/Eleonora Perioncini