The XTERRA World Tour features two major races Saturday with the 13th running of the XTERRA Czech Championship and the 8th edition of the XTERRA Mexico Championship.
Both feature some of the sports best off-roaders and here we provide a glimpse of the showdowns to come…
XTERRA CZECH PREVIEW
It’s going to be a hot one in Prachatice, both literally and figuratively, with temperatures expected to be in the high 90s on race day for the ninth of 12 races on the XTERRA European Tour (XET).
“The weather is really hot right now,” exclaimed organizer Michal Pilousek Jr. “We expect 36 C (97 F) on race day! The course is very dry and fast, but the hills around Prachatice are so steep and rocky they will make the race really challenging!”
Pilousek said the water in the Kristanovicky Rybnik (highest elevation of any pond in the Czech) is heating up too and they may just have the first non-wetsuit swim in history, and the Czech race has a lot of history to look back on. XTERRA Czech was one of the first international races on the World Tour when it debuted in 2002, and each year they host a series of events in country, including kids races, that have built a strong XTERRA following.
On Friday afternoon they’ll host 250 little XTERRA Warriors for a free duathlon race in the middle of the city. “For most of the children it‘s the first time they‘ve raced in a wonderful renaissance city center on closed roads with a full-size transition area and finish under the official XTERRA arch!” exclaimed Pilousek.
On Saturday it’s the big kids turn, and some really big kids are turning out with the likes of XTERRA European Tour points leader Roger Serrano of Spain, XTERRA Asian Tour Champion Bradley Weiss of South Africa, 15x XTERRA World Tour race winner Ben Allen of Australia, and Euro Tour regulars Jan Pyott (4th), Jan Kubicek (9th), Markus Benesch (14th), Tomas Kubek (21st), Malte Plappert (24th). Theo Blignaut from South Africa is also in Prachatice for a run at the title, along with Vaclav Holub and Lubos Truhlar.
In the women’s race two-time winner, current XET leader, Olympian, and home country hero Helena Erbenova
Erbenova has been on fire of late, winning four XTERRA majors in the last two months. She’ll be up against another two-time Czech winner, Carina Wasle from Austria who won this year’s XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Jacqui Slack of the UK who won in Saipan this year, and Brigitta Poor of Hungary who won in Malta and is ranked 2nd in the Tour right now. Other contenders include Sandra Koblmueller (11th), Sabina Rzepka (21st), Lenka Cibulkova (23rd), and Nicole Olivari.
|XTERRA CZECH ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS|
|2002||Olivier Marceau||Candy Angle|
|2003||Nicolas Lebrun||Jamie Whitmore|
|2004||Nicolas Lebrun||Jamie Whitmore|
|2005||Olivier Marceau||Renata Bucher|
|2006||Nicolas Lebrun||Renata Bucher|
|2008||Nicolas Lebrun||Carina Wasle|
|2009||Franky Batelier||Carina Wasle|
|2010||Franky Batelier||Renata Bucher|
|2011||Ronny Dietz||Marion Lorblanchet|
|2012||Nicolas Lebrun||Helena Erbenova|
|2013||Felix Schumann||Helena Erbenova|
|2014||Ruben Ruzafa||Kathrin Mueller|
MIDDAUGH TO RACE XTERRA MEXICO
A few of America’s fastest XTERRA racers – Josiah Middaugh, Branden Rakita, and Suzie Snyder – are headed south of the border to the mountains of Tapalpa, Jalisco for a battle against Mexico’s best on their home soil on Saturday.
Last year’s winner Irving Perez, a bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games two weeks ago, returns to defend his title. Francisco “Paco” Serrano, a former Olympian and long-time XTERRA star who upset Middaugh to win the West Championship in April is on the list and so is Rom Akerson, who got the best of Middaugh in Costa Rica in March. The young-gun Mauricio Mendez, who was 5th at XTERRA Worlds last year, is also racing.
“I think I will have my work cut out for me with some very tough and fast athletes from Mexico and Central America,” said Middaugh. “I don’t know much about the course so I’m not sure what to expect but that is what I look forward to.”
Serrano said it’s “by far the strongest field for the XTERRA Mexico Championship” and added “I hope I come up with my best form to be at the podium and a win will make me so happy. I cancelled pretty much all other plans to focus on this race, Maui, and the ITU Cross Champs. I’m not very happy with mud and altitude, but bring it on!”
In the women’s race Snyder looks to pick up her third win of the season but will have to get past the defending and three-time XTERRA Mexico Champion and former Olympian Fabiola Corona, as well as Maria Barrera and Brazil’s Laura Diaz.
“I’ve actually never been to Mexico,” said Snyder. “That is kind of why I’m going; it’s a new place and culture to experience. I’m not sure what to expect really, especially against Fabiola who obviously has the home course advantage, but I’m certainly going in with the goal of winning and enjoying the experience!”
While it’s the first time to Tapalpa for Middaugh and Snyder, it’s a familiar and favorite stop on the World Tour for Rakita.
“Javier (Rosas) and his team always put on an amazing event in Tapalpa and I’m really excited to go back,” said Rakita. “The community support is great for the race and the post-race awards ceremony in the town square is a lot of fun and the fireworks display at the end is a sight to see. Tapalpa is a cool, sleepy little town with some amazing food and entirely different as it is not a tourist trap area. I am looking forward to getting homemade ice cream from the street carts.”
Learn more at http://www.xterramexico.com.mx/
ALL-TIME XTERRA MEXICO CHAMPIONS
2014 (Tapalpa) Irving Perez, Fabiola Corona
2013 (Tapalpa) Leonardo Chacon, Fabiola Corona
2012 (Tapalpa) Francisco Serrano, Renata Bucher
2011 (Tapalpa) Seth Wealing, Shonny Vanlandingham
2010 (Valle de Bravo) Seth Wealing, Fabiola Corona
2009 (Valle de Bravo) Seth Wealing, Shonny Vanlandingham
2006 (Puerto Vallarta) Francisco Serrano, Jamie Whitmore