After a blistering start in Xonrupt, the XTERRA Short Track series heads to Czech, Prachatice on August 14 where an absolutely stacked starting lineup will be fighting for more than just the prize purse with redemption, home-turf victory, and the 2022 XTERRA European title all on the line.
After hosting the very first XTERRA Short Track back in 2019, Prachatice is braced once again for one of the biggest showdowns of the season as round 2 of the Short Track series combines with XTERRA European Championship for a massive weekend of off-road racing.
The field is stacked and the stakes are high with a total of €25,000 up for grabs in the Championship race, an additional €5,000 for the Short Track race, and the all-important points towards the €20,000 Short Track series win bonus.
The Short Track race takes place the day after the Championship race where many athletes will be leaving everything on the course for a shot at European Championship glory and a qualifying slot for the World Championship in Trentino, so those looking for a podium finish in the Short Track race will need to dig deep and push hard across both races. Especially as qualification for the Short Track race is largely based on the rankings from the Championship race the day before.
Round 1 was claimed by Greek superstar Panagiotis Bitados and the ever-dominant Swiss Loanne Duvoisin, but there are plenty of big names who have the right combination of power, speed, and skill to shake things up in round 2.
The action starts at 8:50 CEST on August 14th where both the men’s and the women’s races will be streamed live and direct from Prachatice.
Round 1 of the series got off to a massive start as Loanne Duvoisin (SUI) recorded victory over the French pairing of Alizee Paties and Solenne Billouin and Panagiotis Bitados (GRE) broke all pre-race predictions by overhauling Arthur Serrieres and Maxim Chane (FRA) to claim his first Short Track victory in the French town of Xonrupt.
In a unique swim/bike/run x 3 format, both winners waited until the last round to stamp their authority on the field and hit the finishing line first.
The infamous elevated bike track did not disappoint and the fast and furious racing format gave the thousands of fans in attendance plenty of incredible battles all the way down the two fields of 25 athletes. If you missed it, catch the highlights below or watch the full replay of round 1 here.
With Bitados and Duvoisin sitting at the top of the pile for now, there is still a large French contingent as well as some other big names below that will be looking to dethrone the current leaders after round 2.
With round 2 taking place the day after the XTERRA European Championship, there will be a few extra dimensions added to the race - who can recover the best, will an underdog save their legs to take it to the favourites on Sunday, and who might have one too many in the bar on Saturday evening?
There are so many factors in a doubleheader weekend like this that can throw not just a spanner, but a whole god damn toolbox into the works.
After a deviation from the norm in France, athletes will return to the traditional swim/bike/run format. And with regular transitions back, athletes will be able to concentrate on going fast rather than getting changed, a welcome return to normality for some.
After a beach start, athletes will complete a 2-lap, 400m swim with a short exit at halfway to give everyone watching (and the athletes themselves) a chance to see where everyone is and how the first part of the race is panning out. And with the swim course coming close to the lake dam, spectators will have a front row seat to the action and no doubt be bringing the noise needed to push the athletes into the bike course.
Out of the water and onto the pedals, the course then heads into a 7.6km purpose-built bike course through the woods surrounding the lake. With the course taped nice and wide for overtaking, speeds will be high throughout, but those with the skill and strength to master sections such as the Vittoria Rocks, The ElleErre downhill and the Red Bull jumps will surely suge to the front before the final discipline.
Using a shortened version of the bike course, athletes will sprint to the finish line over a 2.4km track with the short, steep and spicy Kalas Climb likely to crown champions and crush dreams right before the finish line of XTERRA Short Track, Czech Republic.
With qualification to the Short Track event based on the results of the Championship race the day before (with the exclusion of wild cards), it’s impossible to know the exact starting line up just yet. But there are some names you can almost guarantee will be on the starting line and hunting that podium finish.
In the women’s race, you’d quite frankly be a fool not to put Loanne Duvoisin as the favourite for the Short Track in Czech Republic. After a classy victory in France coincided with the conclusion of her university studies, she will have focused on putting together a solid block of training with a view towards the latter half of the season.
Marta Menditto will be another top contender to look out for. As the winner of XTERRA France and second in Lake Scanno, followed by altitude training in Livigno, the Italian youngster will surely be in red-hot form come race day in Prachatice.
Alizee Paties is another force that can never be ruled out. Paties is one skillful woman on a mountain bike. Every year the Czech Short Track gets harder and more technical and this should play into the French woman's strengths. A win at XTERRA Scanno also shows she has the engine, not just the skills.
In the men’s race, 2x Short track winner Arthur Serrieres heads to the Czech Republic following a block of training at altitude. With fire in the belly from a rare defeat at XTERRA France, you can be sure that the Frenchman will want to get back on top with another perfect weekend in Prachatice
But he’ll be up against Arthur Forissier, the most successful Short Track racer in XTERRA history. When experience counts, Forissier can be relied upon to deliver a cool-headed performance even in the chaos that is Short Track racing.
And finally there’s Lukas Kocar. If he can keep his equipment in one piece, the Czech superstar will have the home advantage as he races his first Short Track event of the year. Last year in XTERRA Short Track Germany he destroyed the field, simply riding away to victory with nobody able to respond. Look out for a big move on the bike course.
Keep August 14 free to catch all the action from round 2 in Czech live and direct via livestream from the 22 cameras ready catch every twist and turn. The action starts at 8:50 CEST with with the women up first and the men at 10:50 CEST.
Live stream links will be posted on the XTERRA global IG and FB accounts during the European Championship event, but to be sure to not miss a single second, sign up here to get all the live links sent directly to you on the day and just before the race.
You can also follow the below FB event pages to get notifications sent to you for the remaining races of the XTERRA Short Track series.
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