The Full List of 2023 XTERRA European Age Group Champions

Forever written into the history books, the battle at the Citadel is over and with that begins the reign of the 2023 class of XTERRA European Champions.

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The Story of the Race

It was billed as one of the hardest races to win this year, and that is exactly what unfolded on June 10 outside the historic stone walls of the Citadel of Namur. Sweltering heat, relentless river currents, leg-busting climbs up cobblestone streets, dusty mountain trails and deadly descents down ancient sets of stairs - this is just some of what stood in the way of those who set out to become champions. 

Then there was the competition. One of the most highly contested races in off-road triathlon, no less than 669 athletes stepped up to battle it out by stroke, wheel and foot in the water and on the trails of Namur. Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden were all represented, each looking to bring back one or more crowns and the pride that comes with it. 

This is what makes the XTERRA European Championship the spectacle it is, and this is why winning it is an achievement only a select few can claim. 

Swim

The race began in the River Meuse, where a water temperature of 22.6°C and swimming against the current for the first half of the opening section would have set the tone for what was to come in the rest of the race. 

But that meant little for the British youngster, Isla Hedley [F15-19], and Feffery Camphens from the Netherlands who set a blistering pace for the rest of the pack to post the fastest age division swim splits. Camphens was out the water in just 19:20 with Hedley’s time of 19:34 coming in faster than multiple Elite athletes. It wasn't only in the swim where Hedley made a statement either, this is a name to remember as there may be a lot more to come.

Bike

Out of transition 1, the bike course opened with an almost immediate climb up past the Citadel and into the woods. Many were expecting a muddy ride that so often is the case in northern Europe, but with an unexpected 28°C on race day the riders were met with fast, dusty trails rather than a muddy slog.

Facing dust clouds from riders up front, multiple steep climbs and narrow singletrack sections that required strategic passing, the 35K bike loop quickly divided the race - putting those in championship contention ahead, but still with a lot to come.

Surviving the woods only meant facing the ‘stairs of certain doom’, where only the fastest and the bravest stayed on the bike. 

French rider, Damien Guillemet [M35-39], made it all look easy, finishing the 35K in just 1:35:48 to claim the fastest age division bike split of the day while Sabrina Enaux [F45-49], also of France, was the fastest female rider with a time of 2:01:53.

Run

Those with enough left in the tank to push hard on the final 10K of the race would again need to face the mixture of forest trails and urban architecture. More steep climbs and awkwardly spaced stairs on wary legs as the biggest finish in the EMEA Tour inches closer. 

While Xavier Diepart of Belgium and Lelia Le Coquet of France posted the fastest division run splits, it was Nicolas Durin [M45-49] and Isla Hedley [F15-19] who crossed the line first to win the overall in the age division and claim their title as XTERRA European Champion for their respective divisions. Durin finished in a time of 2:50:52 to claim a championship crown for France while Hedley added a crown to Great Britain's tally with a time of 3:18:30.

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Those Who Went Above and Beyond

While every new champion earned their title by facing the same terrain on the same day, there are still those who deserve special mention.

Jose Antonio Abril, who lost his left arm in a car accident when he was 23-years-old, continued to inspire all around him by conquering one of the toughest challenges on the World Tour. Abril was third in the open PC division at the XTERRA World Championship last year and after his performance in Belgium will have the opportunity to race for the title once again this year. Last year the award-winning vocational teacher told us that he raced XTERRA, “because I enjoy it, first of all, and second is to show everyone that people like me can do hard things.”

A special shout out also goes to the Belgian Champs who took the crown on home soil - Ben Vyvey who beat the reigning 25-29 World Champ Petr Cmunt from the Czech Republic, the “most experienced” racer in the field - 72yo Joel Demarets, and Maya De Backer who grabbed the 25-29 women’s crown for the host country.

Barbora Stupková and Nicolas Durin also deserve special mention for their continued achievement in the sport. Stupkova, a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic, won the 15-19 division XTERRA World Title in 2021 in Maui, the 20-24 division title in Trentino last year, and has now added the XTERRA European Champion title to her list.

Nicolas Durin, part of team HEXATRI, continued his domination of the 45-49 division with another stand-out performance in Belgium. Durin won his first XTERRA World Championship in 2016 and was tops again in 2022. Adding to his XTERRA World Champion titles and now his XTERRA European Champion title, he has also laid claim to the 2015, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 World Triathlon Cross Tri Championship crowns.

Perhaps one of the toughest battles of the day has to go to the men’s 40-44 division, where Olivier Pichou held off a hard charging Xavier Diepart by just 27-seconds.

And finally, credit where credit is due, the French wave continued to wash through Belgium with undeniable force. No less than 16 of the 24 total titles were taken by the French, including 10 of the 14 in men’s division and 6 of 10 in the women’s division. The remainder were divided between Belgium who claimed three crowns, and one each for Germany, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, and spain.

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The 2023 XTERRA Europe Female Champions

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The 2023 XTERRA Europe Male Champions

05

The XTERRA World Championship in Trentino, Italy

Many were calling this ‘the world championship outside of the World Championship’ due to the depth of the talent in the field, and in many ways it was. But the truth is that there is nothing quite like the XTERRA World Championship, where the field is even deeper, more countries are represented, and the atmosphere is unmatched by any other event in off-road sports. 

This year the XTERRA World Championship heads back to the Dolomites of Trentino, Italy, for only the second time in history that the event will be held in Europe. There is no doubt that many of the battles that unfolded in Belgium will have the chance to go at it once again in Italy, but with a totally different terrain and on the biggest stage there is, no result is guaranteed.

Those looking to qualify in Europe will still have the chance to do so at XTERRA Switzerland, XTERRA Valachy, XTERRA France, XTERRA Lake Scanno, XTERRA Super-Besse, XTERRA Ardennes, XTERRA Czech, XTERRA Germany, and XTERRA Nouvelle Aquitaine.

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