Race Preview

2022 XTERRA World Championship Elite Race Preview

September 24, 2022

Men's elite race preview

If World Championships were won on paper or by popular opinion, the title would already belong to Arthur Serrieres - and for good reason.

He’s the reigning and two-time World Triathlon Cross Champion, the reigning and three-time XTERRA European Champion, he won the Europe Triathlon Cross Championship on this course in Trentino last year, and was runner-up at XTERRA Worlds the last two times to a pair of gentlemen - Hayden Wilde & Bradley Weiss - who won’t be on the start line.

Serrieres is the fastest runner in the sport, he arranged his entire year and two grueling altitude training camps for this one day, and is as fiercely competitive as they come. But, he still has to earn it in real life, where anything can happen, against a stacked field of 60 elite men representing 20 countries.

Consider this, Serrieres won 15-of-16 regular season races over the last two years, his only “loss” was a third-place finish at XTERRA France in July behind the Forissier brothers - Felix and Arthur. He had a mechanical issue on the bike that day … and in this sport, on this course, where athletes will hurl themselves with reckless abandon down the unrelenting rocky mountain terrain in the Dolomites at top speed … things happen.

In July of 2019, Arthur Forissier looked poised to take over the sport. He had won the ITU Cross Tri World title in April, then three straight XTERRA majors including the big one in France. Serrieres got hot at the end of the summer, won the Euro Champs in Czech and Germany and has been on a fire ever since - but make no mistake - the “other” Arthur is still a threat.  And now, his 24-year-old brother Felix is flirting with greatness of his own. He was second to Serrieres in Trentino a year ago, and second to Serrieres at Cross Tri Worlds in Romania and the XTERRA European Champs this year - and mechanical issue or not - he beat Serrieres in France.

And if those three Frenchman aren’t intimidating enough - add one more - Maxim Chane. He’s just 26-years-old, but he’s been in the game for a long time, and won the 15-19 division XTERRA World Championship in 2014 before going pro. He’s really good on really hard courses with a lot of climbing, like XTERRA Italy - Lake Garda which he’s won the last two years, and will be in his element in Trentino.

The last and only Frenchmen to win an XTERRA World Championship was Nico Lebrun in 2005 - and now he’s running the show as the sports technical director.  The race may be in Italy, but to win it, you’ll have to go through France.

Of course, there are mountains in America too, and two of the best climbers in the world live and train in Eagle-Vail, Colorado - home to the highest elevation XTERRA on earth. The XTERRA USA Championship race starts at 7,400-feet elevation then climbs 3,000-feet into the thin air of the Rockies, topping out at 9,400 feet.

Josiah Middaugh is a 20-year veteran and the 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He’s been in the top 10 at Worlds for 10 straight years. To say he’ll feel right at home at altitude, climbing up a rocky path in the Dolomites - no matter what the weather conditions are - would be an understatement.

His son, Sullivan, who turned 18-years-old in March, literally grew up with XTERRA and has grown into a world-class athlete. He just graduated from Battle Mountain High School where he set the school record in the 5K (15:30) and is headed to Arizona State University as part of the USA Triathlon Project Podium squad which is designed to develop athletes into Olympic medalists.

"Looking forward to a mountain course for worlds," said Josiah Middaugh. "I am most excited to share this experience with my son Sullivan as we bookend the elite start list as the youngest and oldest in the pro field. Seeing his recent enthusiasm for triathlon had reenergized my training in hopes that I can keep up!"

The one constant at XTERRA Worlds over the last eight years, and perhaps the most remarkable stat in all of off-road triathlon, is Ruben Ruzafa’s eight-race streak with the fastest bike split. Since 2013, Ruzafa has been first off the bike at Worlds. He won two of those races (2013-2014) and finished on the podium at five of the other six, so the question isn’t “is he going to be in the mix” … it’s “can he hold on.”

Ruzafa - the three-time XTERRA World Champion and four-time World Triathlon Cross Champion, is one of the true all-time greats and is as classy off the trail as he is on it. It’ll be a wonderful treat for Europeans, and his family, to watch him perform in person on the world’s biggest stage close to home this year instead of on the most remote island on earth.

There are three other elite men who need to be mentioned among the title contenders - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, Lukas Kocar, and Sebastien Carabin. They’re all great mountain bikers and tough competitors who have shown that on any given day are capable of taking the top spot.

As for surprises, there’s always someone who rises to the occasion. Could it be one of the fast Italians - Franco Pesavento or Federico Spinazze or Riccardo Ridolfi - energized by the home crowd? Perhaps Paco Serrano, the former Olympian and 2017 ITU Cross Tri World Champ from Mexico, has one more trick up his sleeve? Or could it be Francois Vie, another young gun with big dreams, who makes the scene?

We’ll find out October 1, 2022, at 9am. Watch it live right here at xterraplanet.com.

Fun Fact: Every World Triathlon Cross Championship men’s elite winner since ITU first hosted its own world championship in 2011 will be in Trentino. Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz, pictured above, who won four XTERRA World Championships and the first three ITU World titles (2011-13), is racing in the made-for-fun organizers challenge. He’ll host XTERRA South Africa this January. Ruzafa won ITU Worlds four times (2014, 15, 16, 18), Serrano in 2017, Forissier in 2019 & Serrieres in 2021-22.

XTERRA World Ranking/Bib# – Name, NAT

2/1 - Arthur Serrieres, FRA

3/2 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP

5/12 - Felix Forissier, FRA

6/3 - Sebastien Carabin, BEL

7/4 - Josiah Middaugh, USA

8/14 - Arthur Forissier, FRA

9/15 - Lukas Kočař, CZE

10/6 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN

11/5 - Maxim Chane, FRA

14/16 - François Vie, POR

16/17 - Franco Pesavento, ITA

18/18 - Sullivan Middaugh, USA

19/19 - Petr Soukup, CZE

20/8 - Xavier Dafflon, SUI

23/20 - Jens Roth, GER

24/21 - Federico Spinazzè, ITA

26/7 - Francisco Serrano, MEX

27/22 - Scott Anderson, GER

29/23 - Guillaume Meunier, FRA

30/24 - Sebastian Neef, GER

32/25 - Francois Carloni, FRA

33/26 - Maxime Gourmaud, FRA

34/27 - Kieran McPherson, NZL

35/28 - Riccardo Ridolfi, ITA

36/29 - Michele Bonacina, ITA

38/30 - Colin Szuch, USA

41/31 - Lucas Van Deynze, BEL

43/32 - Rui Dolores, POR

46/33 - Andrea Zanenga, ITA

47/34 - Veit Hönle, GER

48/35 - Peter Lehmann, GER

57/36 - Dominik Wychera, AUT

61/37 - Arthur De Jaegher, BEL

62/38 - Jan Šneberger, CZE

66/9 - Samuel Jud, SUI

75/39 - Julien Buffe, FRA

85/40 - Jules Dumas, FRA

90/41 - Andres Carnevali del Castillo, ESP

98/42 - Gaëtan Vivien, FRA

102/43 - Tiago Maia, POR

103/11 - Branden Rakita, USA

108/44 - Michal Francke, CZE

110/45 - Benny Smith, USA

115/46 - Edmond Roy, CAN

116/47 - Sam Teller, USA

121/48 - Quirijn Waaijenberg, NED

140/49 - Billy Allen, USA

153/50 - Pâris Fellmann, LUX

157/51 - Keller Norland, USA

174/52 - Thomas Sauser, SUI

177/53 - Hugo Amaral Barbosa, BRA

207/54 - John Wiygul, USA

219/55 - Herbert Peters, GER

238/56 - Alex Rhodes, GBR

254/57 - Humberto Rivera, USA

326/58 - Tom Eickelberg, USA

396/61 - Octavio Vicente, POR

472/11 - Brian Summers, USA

729/59 - Barret Fishner, USA

NR/60 - Adriaan Albert Myburgh, RSA

Women's elite race preview

For the first-time in the history of XTERRA Worlds, home field advantage is a factor, and it belongs to Sandra Mairhofer (not that she needs it!).

Mairhofer lives in South Tyrol, about 2.5 hours away from Trentino in northern Italy, where there is an abundance of mountain trails available for off-road training. She rides an RDR Ares, a light full suspension mountain bike handmade in Italy especially built for climbing these mountains. And she won the European Triathlon Cross Championship on this same course just one year ago when it doubled as XTERRA Trentino.

“This race for me is special because it is a home race,” she said. “I love the place and I love the course! There are steep uphills and fun downhills, and the running is stunning with technical sections and flat fast sections. I am feeling healthy and ready for Worlds, the preparation is going well, and I am looking forward to the race!”

The reigning World Cross Triathlon Champion has had a phenomenal year, winning the XTERRA European Championship and XTERRA Germany, the Italian Cross Tri National Championship, and the Italian Winter Triathlon National title for the fifth straight year.

In polling done amongst her fellow elites, she is the favorite to win it.

“I will give my best in Molveno to be in the front of the race and fight for the title, but whatever comes it will be a beautiful race to end my best season,” she exclaimed. “For me, I think Alizee (Paties) will be one of the favorites in this game! She is a really good biker, which can be helpful on this kind of course.”

Paties is indeed strong, and was second to Mairhofer at the last two big races in the Czech Republic and Germany, but there are a LOT of strong women in the field who know how to break the tape.

Paties won XTERRA Greece and XTERRA Italy-Lake Scanno this year. Marta Menditto won big at XTERRA France and Belgium.  Loanne Duvoisin won the World Cross Triathlon Championship and was runner-up to only Flora Duffy at XTERRA Worlds last year. Solenne Billouin won XTERRA Portugal, Jindriska Zemanova won XTERRA Italy-Lake Garda, Katie Button won the Canadian majors at XTERRA Victoria and Whistler, Lesley Paterson won the XTERRA USA Championship race, and Suzie Snyder won in the Dominican Republic.

Helena Erbenova-Karasova and Carina Wasle have the experience and grit to push the younger elites to their limits, and when it comes to Worlds - nobody has a resume like Paterson. In her last 10 XTERRA World Championship races she’s won it three times and finished second five times.

This year, she’ll be rolling in from Zurich fresh off the European premiere of “All Quiet on the Western Front” - a movie she wrote and produced.

“Was training for this one in Hollywood, baby,” she exclaimed. “I’m a little overwhelmed and tired with all that’s going on but excited at the same time.”

The top 15 elite men and women finishers at the XTERRA World Championship on Saturday are guaranteed a spot in the Short Track showdown on Sunday, and the fight for that right will be tight.

In addition to all the women listed above, expect mountain bike specialists Matilde Bolzan to be in the mix, along with Segolene Leberon, Amanda Felder who has been perhaps the best swimmer in Europe this season, upstart Amanda Presgraves, and more.

The chase is on, October 1 at 9am.  Watch it live by following the links on xterraplanet.com.

XTERRA World Ranking/Bib# – Name, NAT

2/74 - Sandra Mairhofer, ITA

3/66 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI

4/75 - Marta Menditto, ITA

5/68 - Alizée Paties, FRA

9/76 - Solenne Billouin, FRA

10/77 - Lesley Paterson, GBR

11/78 - Jindřiška Zemanová, CZE

15/79 - Helena Karásková, CZE

16/69 - Carina Wasle, AUT

18/67 - Suzie Snyder, USA

19/80 - Matilde Bolzan, ITA

20/81 - Ségolène Léberon, FRA

21/70 - Amanda Felder, USA

22/82 - Daisy Davies, GBR

23/83 - Maeve Kennedy, AUS

27/84 - Lizzie Orchard, NZL

33/85 - Kateřina Ježková, CZE

38/98 - Charlotte Deldaele, BEL

39/87 - Evelyne Trepte, SUI

41/96 - Amanda Presgraves, USA

43/88 - Camille Jobard, FRA

44/71 - Katie Button, CAN

46/89 - Beatriz Ferreira, POR

48/90 - Maria Calleja, ESP

50/91 - Stepanka Bisova, CZE

64/73 - Irena Ossola, USA

77/97 - Nicole Valentine, USA

81/92 - Lara Buttigieg, MLT

185/72 - Chelsea Raymond, CAN

230/93 - Jenny Fletcher, CAN

283/94 - Alessandra Dias Mendes, BRA

NR/95 - Kate Bramley, AUS

25 February
XTERRA Wellington Festival
New Zealand
11 March
XTERRA Rotorua Festival
New Zealand
18 March
Musandam, Oman
2 April
XTERRA Australia
Dunsborough, WA
15 April
XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship
Kenting, Taiwan
22 April
Vouliagmeni, Greece
13 May
XTERRA Weston Park
Shropshire, Great Britian
20 May
XTERRA Portugal
Golega, Portugal
20 May
XTERRA Oak Mountain
Alabama, USA
27 May
XTERRA Lake Garda
Toscolano, Italy
10 June
XTERRA European Championship
Namur, Belgium
11 June
XTERRA Belgium Short Track
Namur, Belgium
2 July
Xonrupt, France
9 July
XTERRA Victoria
British Columbia, Canada
23 July
XTERRA Lake Scanno
L'Aquila, Italy
12 August
Prachatice, Czech Republic
13 August
XTERRA Czech Short Track
Prachatice, Czech Republic
18 August
XTERRA Germany Short Track
Zittau, Germany
19 August
XTERRA Germany
Zittau, Germany
26 August
XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Mouliets, France
26 August
XTERRA USA Championship
Avon, Colorada, USA
3 September
XTERRA Dominican Republic
Coson Bay, Dominican Republic
17 September
XTERRA Whistler
British Vancouver, Canada
23 September
XTERRA World Championship
Trentino, Italy
24 September
XTERRA Trentino Short Track
Trentino, Italy
21 October
Moorea, Frech Polynesia


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