The action-packed XTERRA Oak Mountain Short Track race will be streamed live on Sunday, May 21, starting at 3pm local time (4pm EST) with two triathlon Hall of Famers, Bob Babbitt and Jamie Whitmore, calling all the action.
The women’s race starts first, with the men’s race to follow at 4pm local time (5pm EST). Expect the top finishers to conquer the 2-lap 400-meter swim, 3-lap 7.5K mountain bike, and 2-lap 3K trail run in a blink of an eye, about 35 minutes.
Oak Mountain is the first XTERRA World Cup stop on U.S. soil and features the first of five lightning-fast short track races in the series.
The winners of the full-distance race on Saturday will score 100 points towards the XTERRA World Cup standings while the made-for-TV short track race on Sunday will offer the chance to claim another 20.
The showcase in Shelby County, Alabama has lured in nearly 1,000 participants for the weekend of events and more than 40 elites from a dozen countries for the pro races including the reigning XTERRA World Champions, Arthur Serrieres and Solenne Billouin from France.
In the elite men’s race all eyes are on Serrieres, but he’s got plenty of competition with eight men in the top 20 of the XTERRA World Rankings on the start line - not including the 2017 Cross Tri World Champ, Francisco Serrano (MEX), or the uber-talented Eric Lagerstrom (USA).
“The goal for me is to gain some confidence back because I lost two races in a row, and so the goal is to get back on top, to get some big points and move up in the Series,” said Serrieres.
Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, ranked third in the XTERRA World Cup standings after the first race in Taiwan last month, is determined to take over the top spot on the leaderboard this weekend, but when asked who’s going to make for tough competition, he named just about everyone on the start list.
“I’m sure Arthur is eager to have a good race, and I think he’ll be fast. Sam (Osborne) will be tough, you can’t count out the guy who won the last two here. There's the Middaugh’s, and Sebastien Carabin is an amazing mountain biker, and it'll be fun to race on-road stars like Lagerstrom. Kieran McPherson could put in a good race, and he’s right behind me in the standings, and there’s some joker’s in this one too,” said Sloth Nielsen.
Another telling antidote he shared was how the course changes with every passing rain shower.
“It’s really entertaining out there with all the twists and turns, and now with the mud this morning, the course is quite different,” he said on Thursday morning. “There’s still some grip and you can go fast, but you can also go fast off the trail too.”
For Lagerstrom, his goal for the weekend now is a lot different than it was in December when he put Oak Mountain on his calendar.
“My initial goal when I put this race on my schedule six months ago was to come win,” said Lagerstrom. “But then as a result of this event now being part of the XTERRA World Cup a lot of guys from Europe decided to show up and that goal became significantly more challenging. Now I’m just trying to get on the podium and get experience racing these guys, so if I do want to do the whole World Cup series later I know what to expect, and especially to be ready for XTERRA Worlds later in the year.”
Bib #/XTERRA World Cup Rank/Overall World Ranking - Name, NAT
1/3/6 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN
2/4/11 - Kieran McPherson, NZL
3/5/5 - Sebastien Carabin, BEL
4/6/18 - Michele Bonacina, ITA
5/7/1 - Arthur Serrieres, FRA
6/NR/9 - Sam Osborne, NZL
7/NR/10 - Josiah Middaugh, USA
8/NR/15 - Sullivan Middaugh, USA
10/NR/27 - Francisco Serrano, MEX
11/NR/45 - Eric Lagerstrom, USA
12/NR/69 - Elliot Bach, USA
14/NR/70 - Branden Rakita, USA
15/NR/73 - Xavier Plouffe, CAN
16/NR/77 - Edmond Roy, CAN
17/NR/78 - Steve Croucher, USA
18/NR/79 - Keller Norland, USA
19/NR/111 - John Wiygul, USA
20/NR/121 - Sam Teller, USA
21/NR/135 - Brian Summers, USA
22/NR/NR - Elliot Holtham, CAN
23/NR/NR - Steven Parker, USA
In the women’s chase, it’s more of the same, with five of the top six in the world on the line and another handful that could crack the podium on any given Sunday.
“We’re racing against each other 10 times this year, so there’s a spot on the podium at some point for everyone, just have to battle again and again,” exclaimed Billouin (pictured above in blue suit next to WC No. 3 Loanne Duvoisin (SUI).
Billouin is a cyclocross vet and feels right at home in tough and rainy and muddy conditions and is hoping for some more this weekend.
“I would love it if it rained non-stop from now until the race, and then we had a big rainstorm during the race too,” laughed Billouin, one of a dozen great insights uncovered during a day full of interviews on-site at the park with Bob Babbitt.
World Cup points leader Alizee Paties is equally excited to race on a different kind of course from what she’s used to in Europe, and against some new faces.
“It’s really nice to compete with the American girls here in the U.S., and on a new course,” she said. “If I can manage a win here I’ll be relaxed for the second part of the season and for the points it will be amazing, but sometimes we’re good and sometimes not. For sure I’m not here for fifth place, but we never know.”
Bib #/XTERRA World Cup Rank/Overall World Ranking - Name, NAT
31/1/3 - Alizee Paties, FRA
32/2/1 - Solenne Billouin, FRA
33/3/4 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
34/6/16 - Suzie Snyder, USA
35/7/5 - Marta Menditto, ITA
36/10/22 - Lizzie Orchard, NZL
37/NR/6 - Samantha Kingsford, NZL
38/NR/33 - Katie Button, CAN
39/NR/35 - Carolyne Guay, CAN
40/NR/46 - Irena Ossola, USA
41/NR/54 - Katja Krenn, AUT
42/NR/56 - Emma Briggs, GBR
43/NR/62 - Nickie Luse, USA
44/NR/67 - Jessica Koltz, USA
45/NR/NR - Lisa Becharas, USA
46/NR/NR - Meghan Henry, USA
47/NR/NR - Rea Kolbl, USA
Find full coverage of XTERRA Oak Mountain here.
About the XTERRA World Cup
In 2023, for the first-time in XTERRA off-road triathlon history, the most compelling World Tour events from the EMEA, Americas, and Asia-Pacific regions will unite to create a premier series of events that will award roughly $350,000 to XTERRA’s fastest professional athletes.
The seven-stop, 12-race XTERRA World Cup kicked off April 15, 2023 at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Kenting, Taiwan, and will culminate September 24 at the XTERRA World Championship in Trentino, Italy.
In addition to seven traditional full-distance events that combine a 1.5-kilometer swim with approximately 30km of mountain biking and 10km of trail running, there are five fast and furious XTERRA Short Track races on the schedule that will be streamed live.
After round two this weekend at Oak Mountain, rounds 3-thru-5 are in the EU with the XTERRA European Championship in Namur, Belgium (June 10-11), followed by XTERRA Czech (August 12-13), and XTERRA Germany (August 18-19), and round six heads to the Rockies in Avon, Colorado for the XTERRA USA Championship (August 26).
To determine XTERRA World Cup Series Champions, elites add their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three Short Track scores and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship.
Find full coverage of the XTERRA World Cup at xterraplanet.com/world-cup.
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