XTERRA Racing Team Tips: Get Ready for Cyprus

Our European director Nico Lebrun and Morgane Riou, one of our elite females and 2nd last year in Cyprus bring you their tips and specific training sessions to be in the best shape possible and fully prepared for the bike and trail run parts of the race.

XTERRA Cyprus is the 2nd race of the XTERRA European Tour for 2018. The race is just one week after Malta and a week before Greece.

“The first 3 races of the Tour are ideal for some early vacations in some of the best parts of the Mediterranean. The flights from one country to the other are very cheap, the locations are great and a great way to start the season in a warm and sunny environment” said Lebrun.

Cyprus has just over one million population and is divided into two, with the northeast part being Turkish and the rest of the island the Republic of Cyprus.

The race site is situated in the beautiful Akamas National Park and Lara Beach – which is a breeding site for turtles, and the traditional fishing shelter of Latchi. The start, transition and finish line are next to a nice little restaurant called Lara. “As it is the only building in the area, it will make you feel like you have reached the end of the world, with a wonderfully tranquil scenery that matches beautifully with the spirit of XTERRA” said Riou.


The athletes will start with a fantastic sea swim on the sandy beach next to the transition area. “Last year we had to cancel the swim, as come race day we were faced with huge waves that made the swim exit very dangerous. Usually the weather conditions are perfect in this part of the island and hopefully this year the athletes will have the chance to swim in the calm and beautiful turquoise waters of Lara Beach. However, even though we are in the south, at this time of the year the water will be around 19/20° C, so please bring your wetsuit, you will definitely use it” said Lebrun.

The bike leg is a 2 lap mtb ride on dry, sandy and rocky type of terrain. The first part of the lap is flat and takes you along the beach. In order to keep some speed, you will have to be very focused and look for the best line through the sand parts. Then after this, you will start to climb, still on a dirt road, but quite rocky and in some parts very steep. At the top, you will reach the feed station, so make sure to take on some extra fluids to keep yourself hydrated as for sure it will be hot out there.

After the feed station, you will start to descend with quite a few technical sections, then up again on a steep and testing climb! Once you have finished this second climb, the next section is a fast downhill mainly on a dirt road where a little recovery can be gained. But be careful, as you will soon enter into the “rock garden”, a 500m long technically testing section. This you will definitely need to check out and pre-ride before the race, to make sure you know how best to manage it. It may be that in the last part of this tricky section, that you may be quicker off your bike, and pushing rather than riding, but as with everything, practice makes perfect! At the bottom, there is one last remaining short but technical climb, maybe 100m long, but then after this, it is all downhill to the end of the 1st loop. This is a basic description of the bike loop that of course you will have to do twice.

The run course is 2 laps of a varied terrain, 5k trail route. The route is almost flat but not always fast, with some twisty turny sections of trail, many of which you will be running on rocks. These sections can be tricky and you will have to be sure to focus on your feet and be precise and quick. The end of the loop is along the beach and this is always slow and painful too. At the end of the 2nd loop you will need to climb some stairs to reach the finish line, next to the transition area.

To be fully prepared for this race, we suggest the following specific training sets for the bike:

To best prepare for the long climb section, you will need to be able to push hard all the way up: Therefore, we suggest that you find a 10’ climb, on either a tarmac or gravel road and do it 3 times at 85-90% of your max aerobic power or at 87-93% of your max heart rate. If you have a very long climb rest 5’ before the next repetition. If the climb is short, rest on the way back to the start of the climb.

  • For the rocky and technical parts of the course, find a place with fixed rocks or roots that can make it difficult to keep momentum if you don’t have enough speed or don’t follow the correct line. Keep practicing on the section but try to focus on finding the best line and remember that speed and bike control is the key here to try to overcome the obstacles without stalling.

Trail run specific training:

  • To keep the speed in your legs at the rocky technical part, try to work on your proprioception, to be quick and dynamic on your stride and be able to jump from one rock to another without losing speed. We recommend that you try to replicate the race conditions best that you can. For this, find a suitable place in a park or a forest, or if you can’t, set up some planks or hoops in a parking lot or open space. Set a 2-minute circuit starting with a flat and fast section to get some speed followed by the “technical zone” that you created and a second flat and fast section at the end to finish. Rest 1’ and do it 6 times at 95-100% of your maximum aerobic speed. The goal is to try to keep as much speed and coordination as possible on the technical part and improve your feet reaction and precision.

If you are a very good Mountain biker, and proficient on the technical parts, you can happily choose a Hardtail, as you will be able to manage the “rock garden” easily. If not, we recommend a full suspension bike if you have it. But you don’t need to worry too much, as you will hopefully be able to manage it with either. Don’t forget to use strong walled tubeless tires for rocky and dry conditions if possible. The Trail run is fast and flat so we recommend the lightest trail running shoes for stability is the best option.

More info about the race and registrations at www.xterracyprus.com

Looking forward to see you in Cyprus!