XTERRA European Champs on Saturday in Czech
XTERRA Czech made an amazing comeback to the calendar in 2018, for this year it returns as the XTERRA European Championship.
The town of Prachatice host the biggest event of the European season with 75 Elite athletes taking the start on Saturday. Sunday sees the debut of the XTERRA Short track event with the only the top 20 athletes invited back for a second day of fast and furious racing.
Both races will have live coverage, so stay tuned in our social to get all info on how follow the events.
Elite Men Preview
50 elite men from 15 countries take to the start line in a highly competitive XTERRA European Championship. Looking at the current form book suggests five athletes with a serious chance to take the title.
Bradley Weiss from South Africa will look to defend his regional title from 2018. Second at the 2018 XTERRA World Championship and 2019 Asia- Pacific Champion he knows how to perform in the big events. He has been injured for long time and whilst he placed well last week at Challenge Prague, his current XTERRA form is unknown, so the first spot is not guaranteed.
"The season started really well, I won all four of my opening races," said Weiss. "Unfortunately this took its toll and left me with a bad injury to one of the lower bones in my left leg. It forced me to take two months off from running but thankfully I could still work on my swim and biking. I am very excited to restart my season with a solid result here at the European Championship. I really love the idea and hope I get the opportunity to race on Sunday's Short Track event. It definitely adds a new dynamic to the weekend and I am very excited to race this new format of XTERRA triathlon."
Arthur Forissier from France will look to add European Champion to his expanding list of titles. He won XTERRA France, Lake Garda, Switzerland and the ITU world championship for Cross Triathlon cementing his place as one of the best in the world on any type of course.
"Its really good season for me so far," said Forissier. "This will be my last XTERRA for the season as after that I will take some rest and continue my preparation for the World Championship in Maui. The Short Track race is going to be awesome, can't wait to race it"
Czech athlete Lukas Kocar will have the whole country behind him this weekend. He last raced at the ITU Cross World Championships finishing on the podium, before training specifically for this race. I’m sure he knows every rock and tree root by now!
"I had some very good results finishing third at the ITU World Championships and winning the the title at the Czech Championship," said Kocar. "I am little disappointed with my performance the last period but also hungry for a good result in Prachatice in front of my home crowd"
Frenchman Arthur Serrieres was just eight seconds from the win at XTERRA France. As one of the only athletes who can match Forissier, he is destined for a big title very soon. It will be hard to do it on Saturday, but Serrieres should be a certainty for the podium.
"I had good results in the first part of the season and want to continue the same way,"said Serrieres. "With such a big elite field, I aim for a top 5 or a podium. I will be in Germany in two weeks, Luxembourg and of course Maui."
We cannot forget Ruben Ruzafa, the Spaniard with three world titles and the recent win in Scanno. Ruben will be strong here, maybe in better shape than in France and will lead the race starting the run, but likely will not be alone like previous years. Ruben isn’t slowing down yet, but the young generation are stepping up to the The Boss!
The fight for the remaining spots in the top 10 doesn’t get any easier.
Previous winner of XTERRA Czech, Ben Allen makes the trip from Australia after a stint working as a life guard over the past few months. He has been training but his condition is a bit unknown, if he is fit and ready then a top ten position is possible for Allen.
"Happy to be back training and living the dream again," said Allen. "Definitely a big reality check coming from full time work as a professional ocean lifeguard. Racing to my potential and looking forward to getting back on some Euro dirt. "The Short Track is a wild idea, exactly what the sport needs to spice things up and make it interesting. Fast and furious fun! Bring it on..."
Rui Dolores is leading the European Tour, has won two races and hasn’t finished outside of the top 5. The Portuguese athlete’s consistency makes him a sure bet for the top ten.
"This will be my ninth race for this season and I'm very excited to be in Prachatice for the first time," said Dolores. "It is the Euro Tour Championship, the main event of the season where everyone will attend. I expect a great battle and I'm ready to fight with the other competitors."
Max Chane from France has had some yo-yo form this year. 11th in Switzerland, fourth in France, seventh in Scanno, so if a result comes every other race then it could be a good one. I see him finishing the bike with the lead group.
Swiss Xavier Dafflon had his best race of the season Scanno two weeks ago, narrowly missing beaten by Ruzafa. His form is improving, but this race will not be as hard as Scanno and he will have lots of athletes to catch after the swim leg, a comeback to the top 10 will be possible.
"As this will be my first time at XTERRA Czech I am looking forward to discover a new place, a new course and of course perform well," said Dafflon. "I am feeling good and all lights are green to give my 100% on Saturday and enjoy the Short Track on Sunday"
2018 European Tour winner François Carloni was strong in Scanno after disappointing race at home in France. Carloni should be happy with a top ten here in the Czech Republic.
"I'm very exited to race Czech with so many elite athletes," said Carloni . "It'll be an epic battle and I hope to be competitive to catch some of the best guys. I think the short race on Sunday will be funny and spectacular. I can be very strong if I recover well from Saturday's main race. I like short efforts."
Other athletes who will try to finish in the top 15 on Saturday include; Cedric Fleureton & Felix Forissier (France), Jen Emil Neilsen (Denmark), Sebastien Carabin (Belgium), Andreas Silberbauer (Austria), Roman Deisenhofer & Peter Lehmann (Germany), Karel Zadak, Ondrej Petr, Tomas Matera, Jan Kubicek, Tomas Jiranek & Karel Dusek (Czech), Samule Jud (Switzerland), Doug Hall (UK)