Just 6 days after a brutal race in Czech that saw Lukas Kocar take gold on home turf and Sandra Mairhofer win the women’s race the day after being crowned XTERRA 2022 European Champion, the series is ready to kick up another gear on a flat and fast course in Zittau.
Zittau will be the third stop in a series that has more than delivered on its promise for fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled racing where the best in the game leave everything they have on the track.
The series kicked off in Xonrupt on July 2 in front of one of the biggest audiences of the season at an electric XTERRA France, where both Panagiotis Bitados (GRE) and Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) left it to the very last lap to surge to the front and claim the opening win of the series.
In the unique 3-lap format in France, Bitados waited to the final swim to condemn home favourites Arthur Serrieres and Maxim Chane to the lower levels of the podium while Duvoisin used her strength on the bike to claim the fastest split of the day and her third overall XTERRA Short Track win.
Then exactly 6 weeks after Xonrupt, the series landed in the Czech Republic on August 14 at the 2022 XTERRA European Championship for another stacked race with pride, money, and European glory all at stake.
Sandra Mairhofer of Italy helped herself to all three by defending her European title in the Championship race before putting in a dominant performance to claim her first XTERRA Short Track win the very next day.
In the men’s race it was local hero, Lukas Kocar, who had the crowds screaming as he crossed the line for his second XTERRA Short Track win in two years.
Now, just 6 days after Czech, the series heads to Zittau, Germany, on August 19 for one of the fastest tracks of the series and a starting line up stacked with names gunning to be top of the pile.
With two races down and two to go, Germany will offer some athletes a chance to consolidate their points and others a chance to better their positions as they head into the final race in Molveno and gun for the title and the €20,000 series win bonus.
Round 3 of the series takes place at XTERRA Germany, one of the biggest events of the year, with the entire town of Zittau supporting the event in a big way on both sides of the tape. Hundreds of fans will line the flat and fast course, using the landscape sculpted by the remnants of the old mining venue to gain a vantage point to see the entire course.
But with the race taking place so soon after a tough weekend in Czech, the preparation for this event is all about recovering as quickly as possible to arrive in Zittau on Friday as fresh and as relaxed as possible.
The short travel between the two venues will help, but athletes will have to balance course practice against a build-up in fatigue that could affect their performance on Friday.
The race starts with a short sprint across the beach and into the water for a 2-lap 400m swim with athletes exiting the water at the halfway point and running through the heart of the race venue before diving back in for the final loop.
The 4-lap 6km bike course splits itself evenly between the open grassy fields next to the beach and the woods bordering the rest of the lake. And with a nice mix of flat out lung-busting grassy sprints and technical feature-laden singletrack, the bike course offers absolutely no respite or chance for recovery.
The 2-lap 2.6km run course follows a shortened version of the same course, offering no possibility to settle into a rhythm and testing the very best legs in a fast and furious sprint to the finish.
With Panagiotis Bitados (GRE) out due to preparations for the Super League Triathlon series later in the year and Lukas Kochar (CZE) also absent, Zittau is guaranteed to see a new winner in the men’s race. And three names that will have their eye on that top spot are Max Chane, Jens Emil Sloth-Neilsen, and Arthur Serrieres.
If you haven’t rewatched the live feed and Max’s sprint for the podium in Czech - go do it now and you’ll see how much this style of racing means to the Frenchman. He is showing some incredible form and racing really smart to consistently hit the podium in these super fast races.
The Dane, AKA ‘The Magician’, pulled more than just a rabbit out of his hat in Czech. Visually quicker than anybody else on the technical sections, Jens Emil Sloth-Neilsen is just able to do things on the bike that others can’t. Perhaps the course in Germany doesn’t favour his strengths, but you’d be taking a risk to bet against him.
As for Arthur Serrieres, it feels odd for the European Champion not to be the clear favourite for an XTERRA event, but the Frenchman has been close but no cigar in Short track so far in 2022. Nobody in this field can match his run speed, so they must group work together to put the 19 time XTERRA winner under pressure throughout the bike section.
XWR* – Name, NAT
2 - Arthur Serrieres, FR
3 - Ruzafa Ruben Cueto, ES
5 - Felix Forissier, FR
6 - Sebastien Carabin, BE
8 - Arthur Forissier, FR
9 - Maxim Chané, FR
10 - Sam Osborne, NZ
11 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DK
17 - Xavier DAFFLON, CH
22 - Jens Roth, DE
21 - Franco Pesanvento, IT
23 - Francois Vie, PT
27 - Kieran McPherson, NZ
29 - Michele Bonacina, IT
33 - Federico Spinazzè, IT
34 - Mathias Cloostermans, BE
40 - Scott Anderson, DE
41 - Lucas Van Deynze, BE
43 - Francois Carloni, FR
45 - Geert Lauryssen, BE
49 - Malte Plappert , DE
62 - Wouter Dijkshoorn, NL
**54 - Tim Van Hemel, BE
**NR - Matteo Sfregola, IT
**111 - Keller Norland, US
*XTERRA World Rank
** Wild Card Entry
In the women’s race, Sandra Mairhofer, Alizee Paties, and Solenne Billouin will once again be facing off for the outright win and leaderboard dominance.
Mairhofer had a perfect weekend in Czech, winning both the European Championship and the XTERRA Short Track event. Known for her strength and technical ability on the mountain bike, Czech was the perfect course for Mairhofer, but with the course in Germany lacking the long steep climbs and rooty & rocky natural woodland, she may have a bigger task on her hands as the other athletes take advantage of the faster, less technical terrain.
Alizee Paties has been ultra-consistent across all XTERRA racing in 2022, but with two 2nd place finishes so far in the Short Track series she must be desperate to take that top step at some point this season. Consistency is good for the series, but maybe Paties needs to risk finishing off the podium in order to stand on top of it.
Like Paties, Solenne Billouin has quietly been establishing herself as one of the best Short Track athletes on tour. Fighting hard from the first to the last meter in every discipline, a podium is very likely and a win is very possible for the Frenchwomen.
XWR* – Name, NAT
2 - Loanne Duvoisin, CH
3 - Marta Menditto, IT
4 - Sandra Mairhofer, IT
5 - Samantha Kingsford, NZ
6 - Alizée Paties, FR
9 - Solenne Billouin, FR
11 - Jindřiška Zemanová, CZ
12 - Morgane Riou, FR
16 - Carina Wasle, AT
20 - Segolène Leberon, FR
21 - Amanda Felder, US
33 - Hana Odlová, CZ
38 - Lizzi Orchard, NZ
40 - Evelyne Trepte, CH
43 - Maria Döring, DE
52 - Štěpánka Bisová, CZ
74 - Lara Buttigieg, MT
77 - Pauline Vie, PT
85 - Katja Krenn, AT
100 - Beatriz Ferreira, PT
15 - Helena Karaskova, CZ
**57 - Maria Callera, ES
**NR - Paula Leupold, DE
**NR - Anna Gazzari, IT
**NR - Matilde Del Mas, IT
*XTERRA World Rank
** Wild Card Entry
Round 3 kicks off on Friday August 19 with the women’s race up first at 15:20 and the men at 16:35 CEST. Both races will be streamed for fans across the world to tune in and catch the action live and direct from Zittau, Germany.
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