Easily the most highly contested of all the XTERRA regional tours, the EMEA Tour is braced and ready for a heated season ahead as more countries join in and the new WPI system gets put to the test to decide which age-group athletes will end the year as an XTERRA EMEA Tour Champion.
EMEA’s premier off-road triathlon series is once again ready to decide who will be crowned age-group champion of the EMEA region after a fresh new season that is set to include 20 full-distance races across 13 different countries. And if anything is for sure, it won’t be an easy road to the top this year.
Formally the XTERRA European Tour, the 2023 edition will see no less than 4 new countries added to the series with an official name-change to reflect the inclusion of countries from the Middle East and Africa. And while that may mean more championship slots to contend for in the World Tour, it also means even more competition in what is already XTERRA’s toughest regional tour. Age groupers may race separately from elites, but with both current XTERRA World Champions and the majority of the top 10 ranked male and female XTERRA athletes all sharing a regional backyard, the level of competition to be expected on this tour should be clear.
Not only the toughest, it will also also be the longest tour yet as not-so-newcomer XTERRA South Africa gets the tour underway on January 21 for the earliest start in XTERRA history.
Age-group winners in South Africa will be the first to occupy the hot seat as their WPI score becomes the number to beat as the tour continues through Oman, Malta, Greece, the UK, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Czech, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The final stop is XTERRA Sardegna on October 14, and those left on top with the highest WPI score, along with three race starts in the EMEA Tour this season, will have written their names into the XTERRA history books with an unanswered race performance and an EMEA Tour championship crown to their name.
This year is the first time we’ll see the new World Performance Index (WPI) used to determine the champions of the EMEA Tour. The proprietary, formula-driven points scoring system has been refined over the course of four years to give a far more accurate account of race performance, taking multiple granular factors into account, from the level of event and strength of the field right down to the temperature and rainfall on the day.
This may give some races a greater chance of producing a higher WPI score, but with so many variable factors it is nearly impossible to say for sure where the highest score of the 2023 tour will come from. In 2022, the highest score for the men would have come from XTERRA Germany, with XTERRA Nouvelle Aquitaine and XTERRA Belgium just a fraction behind. For the woman it would have been XTERRA Czech, with XTERRA Sardegna and XTERRA Nouvelle Aquitaine producing the second and third highest respectively.
Once the 2023 Tour is underway, every race is an opportunity for athletes to get themselves into the hot seat for their age group, while those at the top of the pile will need to remain active to start a minimum of three races and keep pushing to ensure they finish the tour with an unmatched performance.
While championship crowns will essentially be earned by putting down a single race performance that could not be beaten by any other racer within the division, athletes will still need to have started at least 3 races within the 2023 EMEA Tour in order to be eligible to be crowned champion. There is no limit to the amount of races a single athlete can participate in, but only those who have started in 3 or more will be in contention for the crown.
The rule exists to encourage a deeper field for top contenders across more races, level the playing field for travelling athletes, and reward those not afraid to take on multiple terrains within the region.
There are 3 key factors to remember regarding the three race rule. Firstly, all 3 of the races have to be part of the EMEA Tour. Secondly, they have to fall within the same season (2023), and thirdly, athletes only need to start 3 races. Those who register a DNF or DNS due to a mechanical, injury, illness, or any other reason, can still use the race to count towards their required 3 races.
Along with the tour’s name-change comes 4 additional races, bringing new terrains to get past and a far greater pool of talent to contest against.
Not so much a newcomer after being a part of XTERRA for 16 years, but back by popular demand and now directed by 4-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz, XTERRA South Africa will not only serve as the opening race but also have the honour of bringing Africa into the fold of the EMEA Tour.
The race has already got athletes buzzing with the chance to meet the legendary ‘Caveman’ and compete on the trails that have largely been custom-designed and built by the 53-time XTERRA winner himself. The entire race takes place in the Elgin Valley, a hidden gem in the Western Cape with a rocky terrain that is guaranteed to deliver one of the most exciting bike sections of the tour.
XTERRA Oman follows as the second stop of the tour and the second of the newcomers this year. It also marks a proud return to the Middle East for XTERRA, and the idea of racing in such unique terrain will be a big draw for many.
The race takes place right in the centre of the spectacular Musandam peninsula with the race venue backdropped by the impressive Khasab fort. The first to cross the line will write their name into the history books as the first XTERRA winner in Oman, while others may find themselves leading their age group as the tour starts to gather momentum.
XTERRA Weston Park will also serve to bring back a fan-favourite destination, with XTERRA EMEA general manager Doug Hall given carte blanche to work alongside the Always Aim High team to design a course that will put the UK firmly back on the XTERRA map.
With the domestic elite field looking tasty already, we can look forward to some exciting racing at the pointy end. Serious skills will be needed to go fast, so there’s a potential for high WPI scores if it collides with a deep age group field, and those who walk away with the highest would have certainly earned it.
And finally, Spain makes an eagerly awaited return to the tour with XTERRA Costa Brava offering a signature XTERRA race experience that combines elements of culture, challenge and adventure.
Taking place just north of Barcelona, near the city of Girona, the race begins with a swim in the Mediterranean and ends with a cliff-side run that offers up arguably some of the best views on the tour. The region is a well-known area for triathlons and the event is driven by an experienced and respected team that will undoubtedly make Spain a bucket-list stop on the tour for years to come. Registration is not open yet, but will be announced soon.
If you’re new to XTERRA, there’s a difference between the European Champion and the EMEA Tour Champion, with the former being the winner of a single race (the European Championship race) while the latter is the winner of an entire tour. There’s a lot of prestige in both titles and you can be assured they’re both equally as hard-fought.
The European Championship is often the biggest race of all the stops on the tour, with this year’s race being contested at the Citadel as hosts XTERRA Belgium head back to the iconic venue.
The level of speed and endurance on display will undoubtedly be immense as one of the deepest elite and age-group fields ascends on Namur in search of championship glory. And given the depth of the field expected on the track, the European Championship race certainly has the potential to shake up the World Performance Index midway through the tour, but coming away with the top score will not be easy.
20 full-distance off-road triathlons across 13 countries. Click through for course maps, rules, registration and more.
Jan 21 - XTERRA South Africa
Mar 18 - XTERRA Oman
Apr 01 - XTERRA Malta
Apr 22 - XTERRA Greece
May 13 - XTERRA Weston Park
May 20 - XTERRA Portugal
May 27 - XTERRA Lake Garda
June 03 - XTERRA Costa Brava
Jun 08 - XTERRA European Championship
Jun 17 - XTERRA Switzerland
Jul 01 - XTERRA France
Jul 22 - XTERRA Lake Scanno
Jul 29 - XTERRA Super-Besse
Aug 11 - XTERRA Ardennes
Aug 11 - XTERRA Czech
Aug 18 - XTERRA Germany
Aug 25 - XTERRA Nouvelle Aquitaine
Sep 02 - XTERRA Sumava
Sep 16 - XTERRA Netherlands
Oct 14 - XTERRA Sardegna
Keep up to speed with the tour by checking in at the XTERRA EMEA Tour page for dates, races, and the athlete leaderboard once the action kicks off. Race reports of the season’s biggest races will also be posted on the XTERRA Announcements page.
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