With the XTERRA World Championship heading to an entirely new continent for the first time in 26 years, featuring one of the strongest elite fields in XTERRA history, and the final round of the explosive Short Track series all happening on the same weekend, you can guarantee all eyes will be on Trentino, Italy come this October.
After announcing back in February that the XTERRA World Championship will be held on European soil for the first time in 26 years, we’re now just days away from finding out if Trentino has what it takes to be a worthy successor to the legendary Maui island.
But by all indications so far, there is little doubt that the entire event will deliver nothing short of a spectacle for the hundreds of athletes and thousands of fans in attendance, bringing a fitting end to a huge season of racing and the beginning of a new era for XTERRA.
Rising to the occasion in sheer numbers, the new host will see a capacity field of over 750 of the world’s best amateur and professional XTERRA athletes from 40 countries across the world take on even bigger climbs in potentially one of the most competitive fields in XTERRA Championship history.
And with the removal of the at-large pool this year, every single athlete that lines up beneath the Brenta Dolomites on October 1st would have earned their spot the hard way, and will no doubt be ready to leave absolutely everything they have out on the course.
Already a bucket-list destination for off-road and adventure enthusiasts, Trentino embodies almost everything XTERRA looks to inject into its events: culture, community, and a challenging terrain that offers awe-inspiring views for those strong enough to conquer it.
Off the course, Trentino has so much to offer the XTERRA community that it’s recommended for those heading to the race stay for at least a week. From climbing, hiking, and riding to skiing and snowboarding, Trentino is built around adventure and exploration. History buffs can dig into how the Brenta Dolomites once served as a vicious battleground in the First World War, culture connoisseurs can choose from an array of museums and galleries, and the entire area offers the kind of culinary experience you’d expect from rural Italy.
But on the course, where it truly matters, Trentino has every ingredient of an XTERRA Championship course. From the crystal waters of Lake Molveno, through the brutal yet beautiful forest trails and up into the sawtooth peaks of the staggering Brenta Dolomites, this course is every bit worthy of a Championship race.
"But on the course, where it truly matters, Trentino has every ingredient of an XTERRA Championship course. "
There’s a reason the inaugural XTERRA Trentino Dolomiti Paganella off-road triathlon was named the 2021 Event of the Year for this same venue just less than a year ago.
Starting off in Lake Molveno, where the water is so nice you could bottle it and make a fortune, the 1500m swim will take athletes around an M-shaped loop, with a short beach run at halfway.
As a homage to the Maui swim, this lap allows a long start straight, reducing the washing machine effect at the first turn buoy and removing the stress around overtaking lapped athletes that can sometimes occur in two-lap swims.
The water temperature in October is typically around 15-18°C, a little on the chilly side so wetsuits are likely to be compulsory. Typically the lake is flat and free of chop which should make for fast swim times all round.
The bike course takes in the best that the Paganella Dolomiti region has to offer with a little something for all riding styles.
Coming out the first transition, riders will have a few minutes of flat lakeside trail to get settled, take on some nutrition and maybe even pass a few people. But after the first left the elevation begins - a central theme for this epic course.
The climb can be broken down into three parts, starting with a steep 1km stretch that will show exactly who has bought their A-game before being followed by a flatter and faster section.
This section will split the field, bringing the cream to the crop as the faster swimmers either knuckle down in an attempt to keep their lead, or, if they’ve overcooked it, fall back into the pack to try and save some energy.
At roughly 6km, the trail kicks up again as it switchbacks away from the town of Andalo. Climbing here is steep but the rocks and roots keep it interesting. Athletes able to master the combination of power, patience and precision will prevail here.
"Athletes able to master the combination of power, patience and precision will prevail here."
The last part of the climb is the steepest. With gradients hitting 18% in some places, those who have gone too hard too early will be haemorrhaging time here to those who have paced their efforts with a little moderation. Fortunately there is grip here in the form of rough concrete service roads, so pure power is all that counts knowing that recovery time lies just ahead.
From the top riders will plunge down into the purpose-built Blade Runner trail. One of the best laps in the bike park, this trail is a wicked mixture of machine-built flow and natural singletrack with enough roots, jumps and drops to keep riders on their toes.
Once back in Molveno the course takes riders through a section of Sunday’s Short Track course, going around a small lap in front of the crowds before heading out for a second loop.
At first glance, the run course looks straightforward. But only for those who have paced the bike leg correctly. The key to a good run here is to be comfortable running hard after a tough bike.
The course starts off fast and flat along the lakeside, using the natural trails and rolling terrain to create a fast and flowing opening 1.5km. But things then get technical quickly before a steep climb up to the waterfall.
From the top it’s a fireroad plummet back down to the start of the second lap, or to hit the biggest finish line of the XTERRA season.
With neither Hayden Wilde nor Flora Duffy able to toe the line in order to defend their title, we’ll be seeing two new XTERRA Champions for 2022. Fitting given the new location.
And with the Europeans largely dominating the upper section of the XTERRA world rankings, expect the home crowd to be exceptionally loud.
Anything can happen on race day, but there are some names you can be sure will be gunning for that top spot.
The stars aligned for Mairhofer in 2022, winning some of the biggest XTERRA races in Europe and capturing the World Cross Triathlon Championship. With the XTERRA World Championship taking place in her backyard, the home advantage will surely play a big part in providing the Italian with some extra motivation for the biggest race of her year.
Alizee was second to Mairhofer at the last two big races of the year in the Czech Republic and Germany, and won a pair of races in Greece and XTERRA Lake Scanno this year. She’s a mountain biker and she’s got power, and this is a power mountain biker’s course.
This Swiss woman has been building her whole season around the XTERRA World Championship. Juggling studies, real life and elite sport has proven tricky on occasion, but Duvoisin will look to push Mairhofer as hard as she can for her best result of the year.
After a huge win at XTERRA France, the young Italian has had a run of bad luck in the latter half of the season. Mechanicals and sickness prevented Menditto from proving to the women's field that the result in Xonrupt was no fluke. Like Mairhofer, racing at home will push the young Italian to produce a result she can be proud of.
Unbelievably, the 2022 XTERRA USA champion comes into the XTERRA World Champs as the underdog. With only one race under her belt this year alongside her crazy work schedule, her form is unknown. But what is known is the decades of experience that she’ll bring to the race come October 1st.
Read the full women's elite race preview here
The outright favourite for this year's men's World Championship. Second last year to Wilde, the Frenchman regrouped over winter and came back stronger than ever, winning almost every race he started. If he starts the run less than 3mins from the lead, barring disaster, Serrieres is a likely world champion.
The younger of the brothers continues his astronomical rise to the top of the sport. After victory in France all the way back in July, he hasn’t had luck on his side, with some mechanicals and navigational issues thwarting victory attempts. But the Frenchman has shown he can deliver on the big occasions, being one of only two athletes to beat Serrieres this year.
The Frenchman is always a threat and absolutely loves this course. Victorious at XTERRA Lake Scanno, the fast swimmer who should exit towards the front of the race will push the bike really hard, relying on his technical ability to make a gap stick before doing his best to hold that gap to the finish.
The experienced Spaniard has been first off the bike in the last 8 editions of the XTERRA World Championship, so it would be a surprise to see anything different in 2022.
America’s all-time greatest XTERRA racer, Josiah Middaugh, got out-classed by his son Sullivan at this year’s USA Championship high up in the Colorado Rockies. Josiah arrives in Trentino with 20 years of racing experience while Sullivan has just been picked for USA Triathlon’s Project Podium squad aimed at developing Olympic medalists. Both are right at home at altitude and in the mountains.
And if 750 of the world’s best off-road athletes going to battle for the title of World Champion isn’t enough for you, the day after the World Championship will see the 4th and final round of the fast-paced and elite-only XTERRA Short Track series.
Having gone through France, Czech, and Germany, the series now stops in Italy for the final all-out race where the series winner will be decided. There's cash and pride on the line and it will have a bearing on the Championship race as athletes must decide how much energy they need to save for the following day.
Arthur Serrieres and Maxim Chane are tied at the top of the leaderboard in the men’s, but will they have enough left in the tank to clinch the series? Alizee Paties, Loanne Duvoisin, and Solenne Billouin lead in the women’s but they’ll face the same dilemma heading into both races.
With the Women’s race starting at 14:00 on Sunday and the men following at 15:00, athletes will have a little bit of time to recover, but with the full-gas racing that is XTERRA Short Track, it'll be interesting to see who can carry that intensity across the line.
It’s going to be fast, it’s going to be furious, and it’s going to be live streamed direct from the race village in Trentino, so sign up here to get race reminders and live stream links sent to you.
If you’re near Trentino, get over to Molveno for a 2-day festival of world-class off-road racing.
Food trucks, music, yoga sessions, and racing clinics will keep the vibe going through the day with the after party taking the event into the night.
A big screen will be set up in the race village for both the Championship race at 09:00 on Saturday and the Short Track race at 14:00 on Sunday.
But for those who prefer to see it live, there are a number of key spots along the course to get the best view.
Located at the shores of Lake Molveno, there are plenty of great vantage points to watch the swim. The Elites start at 9am and are easy to spot with their identifying swim caps - men in blue and women in pink. Age groupers start at 10am. A short beach shuffle mid-race between two 750m laps (aka the Australian exit) gives spectators a chance to pick out their friends and family from the field.
Located a few yards from the swim start, the transition area is for competitors only, however, spectators may view the change-over from any position around the boundary.
The bike course comes through the main expo and spectator village at the halfway point, providing great action all day long, and there are lots of viewing spots by simply following the course up the hill.
Most of the run course is open to the public (follow the red arrows backwards) but the best spot to watch is the leg-burning section of sand right at the start and then of course, the finish line.
Lake Molveno is where all the action takes place, from the swim to transition to the spontaneous, ecstatic, and sometimes tear-jerking displays of emotion at the finish line.
And for those tuning in from around the world, visit xterraplanet.com for live stream links and all the most up-to-date- information. You can also register on the below events to get notifications sent directly to you before the race.
[LIVE] XTERRA World Championship 2022
[LIVE] XTERRA Short Track - Italy
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