Last impor­tant infor­ma­tion for the main com­pe­ti­tionson Sat­ur­day, August 18th
14. August 2018
19. August 2018

XTERRA Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship Sat­ur­day in Zit­tau

The pin­na­cle event on the 2018 XTERRA Euro­pean Tour takes place Sat­ur­day, August 18, in Zit­tau, as XTERRA Ger­many plays host to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship race for the third time.

This is the 17th edi­tion of XTERRA Ger­many, which pro­duced its inau­gur­al event in 2002, and for the 11th year all the action will unfold in Zit­tau, a famous town near the Pol­ish and Czech bor­ders that boasts some of the old­est build­ings in all of Ger­many.

As one of three gold-lev­el races on Tour, a $25,000 prize purse, and huge music fes­ti­val-type set-up, the event has attract­ed an incred­i­ble elite field fea­tur­ing the best-of-the-best off-road­ers from around the world.

Reign­ing XTERRA Euro­pean, Asia-Pacif­ic, and World Cham­pi­onship title hold­er Bradley Weiss from South Africa head­lines the elite men’s race and comes in fresh off a win at XTERRA Poland on Sun­day.

“Poland went very well, and pro­vid­ed some great momen­tum going into this weekend’s race,” said Weiss, who spent the last month at an alti­tude camp in the Ital­ian Alps with Sebas­t­ian Kien­le prepar­ing specif­i­cal­ly for Saturday’s race. “I’ve raced in Ger­many four times now and know this course very well. I am very con­fi­dent of my chances come Sat­ur­day and hope the race plays out like it did in Poland. I’m bik­ing well right now, so you can expect that to be where I will try and make my move. I real­ly can’t wait. The Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship always brings out an incred­i­bly strong field and this week­end will be no dif­fer­ent.”

Indeed, there are 36 elite men from 14 coun­tries on the start list, by far the deep­est field of the sea­son. One notable excep­tion is three-time XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa, who suf­fered a scaphoid fis­sure in a fall at the ITU Cross Tri World Cham­pi­onship in Den­mark (which he won for the fourth time). The injury put him in a wrist splint for three weeks, dash­ing any hopes at con­tend­ing in Ger­many, but trust he’ll be bet­ter by the time the XTERRA World Cham­pi­onships roll around this Octo­ber in Maui.

With Ruzafa out, that leaves last year’s XTERRA Ger­many win­ner Sam Osborne from New Zealand as Weiss’ chief neme­sis. Osborne was sec­ond in Poland last week and sec­ond to Weiss at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship race when it was held in Den­mark last year but defeat­ed Weiss at XTERRA Albay in June on his way to win­ning the XTERRA Asia-Pacif­ic Tour crown.

“I need to set up the day with a real­ly good swim,” said Osborne, one of the XTERRA World Tour’s fastest water­men. “There are some big swim­mers here, so I’m look­ing to take advan­tage of that and get some clear road on the bike. Then the goal is to not burn too many unnec­es­sary match­es on the bike, so I can take advan­tage of the run. I’m run­ning well, I showed that at Cross Tri Worlds, so if I come to T2 with legs, game on!”

Osborne said he antic­i­pates a hot­ly con­test­ed bat­tle all day long.

“The lev­el is so high now across all three dis­ci­plines,” he said. “You look at last year and it was lit­er­al­ly a pack of us off the bike togeth­er, and I am sure you will see some fire­works being lit in the Zit­tau moun­tains between that lead group.”

One man you can expect to be in that lead group is 2015 XTERRA Euro­pean Tour Champ Roger Ser­ra­no from Spain.

“I will do an easy swim and start bik­ing with no rush,” said Ser­ra­no, win­ner of XTERRA Mal­ta, Cyprus, and Abruz­zo this year. “After Italy I know I can ride fast so I will see how my body works dur­ing the first uphill on the bike. Depend­ing on how Sam is feel­ing, or if Jens goes crazy from the start, or how fast Brad is try­ing to catch us, and who is com­ing from behind, I will stay, or I will push. I’m con­fi­dent, but nobody wants to ride in the lead and get caught at T2. At the end, how­ev­er, there is just one plan: be hap­py with my per­for­mance. If I win it has to be because I was the best, and If they beat me (no mat­ter how many of them) it has to be because they have been train­ing bet­ter and raced smarter. A clean race is always a good race.”

Arthur Ser­ri­eres from France, who was sec­ond to Osborne at this race last year, won at XTERRA Lake Gar­da in May and XTERRA Roma­nia two weeks ago, but fin­ished 5th last week in Poland.

“I feel good, but I broke one of my ribs in Roma­nia,” said Ser­ri­eres, who sits in sec­ond on the XTERRA Euro­pean Tour stand­ings behind only fel­low coun­try­man Fran­cois Car­loni. “The injury is painful, but I will be okay for the race. I will try to man­age the gap on the swim and go hard on the first big hill on the bike. I think I am a good climber, so I hope to join the first pack quick­ly. I know I can run fast, so I will try to just stay on their wheels. Bradley, how­ev­er, has reached anoth­er lev­el and he is so strong. It will be very hard to beat him.”

Oth­er elite men of note include Car­loni, the Tour leader who won XTERRA Bel­gium this year, and Max­im Chane, who is fifth in the rank­ings and fin­ished sec­ond at XTERRA Cyprus in April.

Home coun­try favorites include Jens Roth, the Ger­man Cross Tri Champ who was fifth here last year, and Peter Lehmann, who is ranked third in the XTERRA Euro­pean Tour rank­ings after 12 of 16 events.

The young Mar­cel­lo Ugazio from Italy has four top three fin­ish­es this year, Xavier Daf­flon from Switzer­land has show glimpses of bril­liance, and Pavel Andreev from Rus­sia was fourth at XTERRA Ger­many last year. The wild card may be Olly Shaw from New Zealand, who has been fan­tas­tic in the two races he’s done this year – which result­ed in a run­ner-up show­ing at XTERRA New Zealand and a third-place fin­ish behind only Osborne and Weiss at XTERRA Albay.

Last year at XTERRA Ger­many Brigit­ta Poor from Hun­gary (pic­tured mid­dle) won it, Hele­na Karasko­va from the Czech Repub­lic (pic­tured left) was sec­ond, and Cari­na Wasle from Aus­tria (pic­tured right) was third.  Those three are back for more and also hap­pen to be the top three ranked elite women in the XTERRA Euro­pean Tour stand­ings; Wasle is No. 1, Poor is ranked sec­ond, and Karasko­va is third.

XTERRA Euro­pean direc­tor Nico Lebrun says Poor is the favorite.

“She has to be the favorite,” he said.  “She’s won six times in Europe this sea­son and is the cur­rent Euro­pean cham­pi­on after win­ning in Den­mark last year. How­ev­er, I said the same thing last week in Poland before Karasko­va got the bet­ter of her. Both ath­letes raced Poland at the end of a big train­ing block, so with a lit­tle rest this week we should see a fan­tas­tic race between the two big favorites. I think that XTERRA Ger­many could suit Karasko­va bet­ter, with the big climbs suit­ing her moun­tain bike abil­i­ty.  Wasle will be close to the front as well. With 10 podi­um fin­ish­es in 2018 she leads the tour by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin.  She’s nev­er won here in Zit­tau but won XTERRA Ger­many three times in a row (2005-07) when the race was host­ed in Titisee. Thir­teen years lat­er, she is still rac­ing strong and hun­gry for the win.”

For Poor, this race means a lot.  “Poland wasn’t my best race, but it was a great warm-up before the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship. Of course, this race is very impor­tant for me, because I want to be the XTERRA Euro­pean Cham­pi­on again!”

It’s impor­tant for Karasko­va as well, as she recent­ly decid­ed to retire from rac­ing at the end of this sea­son to spend more time with her fam­i­ly.

“I was so hap­py to win last week in Poland, and cross the fin­ish line with my daugh­ter,” said Karasko­va, the reign­ing and four-time XTERRA Euro­pean Tour Cham­pi­on.  “…and yes, I decid­ed to stop rac­ing. Triathlon is a very dif­fi­cult sport, and I feel that I don’t have the ener­gy to train for all the dis­ci­plines.  At the same time, I want to take care of my daugh­ter and my fam­i­ly and spend more time with them. We love sport and rac­ing, but I think now it’s time to give this to my daugh­ter. She start­ed her own train­ing and I want to be part of it. It has been a beau­ti­ful eight years with XTERRA.  It’s made me stronger and I’ve met so many great peo­ple.  As for Zit­tau, I love this bike course. It’s beau­ti­ful, has long uphills and tech­ni­cal down­hills and great sin­gle­track. I just hope my legs will be fresh for this tough race.”

Then there is Wasle, who is with­out a doubt the most well-trav­eled XTERRA rac­er over the past sev­er­al years.

“This year I’ve had a good race sched­ule,” said Wasle.  “I start­ed with XTERRA South Africa, then went to Mal­ta, Danao, Greece, Lake Gar­da, Por­tu­gal, Bel­gium, Switzer­land, France, ITU Cross Worlds in Den­mark, Czech, Scan­no, and last week­end, Poland. So, 13 races so far.”

Despite all the trav­el, Wasle says she still feels sharp.

“I’m feel­ing quite good. Sure, when I race so much the train­ing comes short and all the trav­el­ing doesn’t help with recov­ery. Now, I take it very easy dur­ing the week, so I can go full gas on the week­ends. I did lots of train­ing dur­ing win­ter time at home and have a sol­id base to work from. At the moment I’m not at my high lev­el, but in good enough shape to make the podi­um at all the races. After Scan­no, I had two weeks with­out races and qual­i­ty train­ing, so that helped to pre­pare me for XTERRA Ger­many.  I’ve raced many times now in Zit­tau. It’s a very fast course and maybe not the best for me, but last year I had quite a good race (she fin­ished third) so I’ve made friends with the course now.  Here you need a good swim, because the first part is flat and very fast. So, I hope I can catch a fast wheel, then start climb­ing. To take the win here would be incred­i­ble for me, because it’s Euro­pean Champs and I haven’t won a Euro race this sea­son. But Brigit­ta, Hele­na, Morgane…they are also very hun­gry to win. It will be a good fight for the top step.”

Oth­er elite women of note include Nicole Wal­ters from the UK, who had to take a break to recov­er from injury after fin­ish­ing sec­ond at ITU Cross Tri Worlds.  Eva Gar­cia from Spain, win­ner at XTERRA Scan­no, and Mor­gane Riou, win­ner at XTERRA Bel­gium, are expect­ed to chase podi­um spots.

“Lizzie Orchard and Saman­tha Kings­ford from New Zealand will ani­mate the front of the race too,” said Lebrun, who him­self won the first-ever XTERRA Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship race back in 2006. “Lizzie skipped Poland last week to focus on prepar­ing for this week­end, so I expect big things from her.”

The next gen­er­a­tion of elite women stars will also be on the start line, with XTERRA Asia-Pacif­ic Tour Champ Pen­ny Slater from Aus­tralia and last year’s over­all ama­teur women’s XTERRA World Champ Loanne Duvoisin from Switzer­land.

“Plus, as we’ve seen at many races this year, we’ll have a strong Ital­ian pres­ence with San­dra Mairhofer, Bian­ca Morvil­lo and Mar­ta Men­di­to. For this race I will bet on Mairhofer to be the first Ital­ian home.

Daria Rogoz­i­na from Rus­sia was 7th here in 2017 and will have to run fast again to come back into the top 10 this year. We also have two ath­letes from Ger­many, Bian­ca Reitwiess­ner who was 11th in Zit­tau last year and Maria Dor­ing.”