XTERRA Italy Championship Sunday

Stop number eight on the XTERRA European Tour heads to the incredibly beautiful heart-shaped Lago di Scanno for the XTERRA Italy Championship on Sunday.

A strong field is set to take on one of the Tour’s most challenging courses.   The top two ranked men, Roger Serrano and Francois Carloni, and the top two women after seven races this season, Helena Erbenova and Brigitta Poor, will fight to keep their rankings but have many challengers.

The reigning and three-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa is in Italy and looking to win his 13th straight major and for the women the “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher comes in fresh off a victory in Germany where she upset Erbenova, Carina Wasle, and Kathrin Mueller.

“It’s a really nice race with a hard and steep up-and-down bike and run,” said XTERRA European Tour technical director Nicolas Lebrun. “It’s a natural mountain lake, very clean, and a beautiful old Italian Village that has great food and very, very friendly people.”

Here’s a look at the tentative list of elite starters, noting their current rank on the XTERRA European Tour (NR = Not Ranked).

Rank, Name, Country
1, Roger Serrano, ESP
2, Francois Carloni, FRA
3, Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
6, Jan Pyott, SUI
8, Henry Sleight, GBR
17, Martial Schmidt, FRA
21, James Walker, GBR
26, Fabrizio Bartoli, ITA
39, Markus Benesch, AUT
NR, Pavel Andreev, RUS
NR, Fabio Guidelli, ITA
NR, Antonello Pallotta, ITA
NR, Asa Shaw, GBR
NR, Marco Spadaccia, ITA
NR, Jim Thijs, BEL

Rank, Name, Country
1, Helena Erbenová, CZE
2, Brigitta Poór, HUN
4, Carina Wasle, AUT
5, Jessie Roberts, GBR
8, Myriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA
9, Karin Hansen, SUI
15, Elisabetta Curridori, ITA
NR, Renata Bucher, SUI
NR, Genziana Cenni, ITA
NR, Olga Parfinenko, RUS
NR, Sabina Rzepka, POL

XTERRA’s managing director Dave Nicholas is also in Italy soaking up the ambiance and brings us this report…

The XTERRA Italy Championship race is this Sunday in one of the most amazing places on earth.

Scanno is the village, Abruzzo is the region. Abruzzo is known as the Greenest place in Europe. Fully 1/3 of the entire region is State Parks or nature reserves. The area is full of wonderful mountains and basins.

Scanno is situated high up in a mountain valley a bit over 3,000’ high. To say it is picturesque does not do it justice. Several famous photographers have done studies here and far back in the mid 1800’s it was thought the most beautiful women in Italy lived in Scanno. The swim, transition and finish are at the natural lake, Lago di Scanno. “Our lago is made by God not man” is what the locals say, but it was actually formed during a battle between a witch and a sorcerer. The basin was blocked when the witch fell and blocked the valley.

The town is all up and down. Plenty of restaurants and small hotels to choose from, all operated by locals. Many will have English speakers, some will not. But that is the charm. Walk the streets and you will find the tiniest pathways with arches over them and the streets. The doors to the homes could fill an art book with great photos. Shopping is fine with great buys on wool products and very fine, filigree gold jewelry; all made locally.

The people are warm and welcoming. There is no pretense here at all. The air is magnificent, pure, cool, and breathable to the max. The lake is so pure you would not worry to drink it and clear to the bottom. The scenery everywhere you go is spectacular.

If you come from far away or are Italian, this is a place you need to see for yourself. Maybe you like the big city, or want the crowded beach at Rimini with thousands of 20 something year olds. But do yourself a favor and come to Scanno to just look and spend a few days or better yet – come with our athletes early and train on the great trails, ride the cobble streets and watch the widows in their customary black dress bringing bread and vegetables home. Enjoy the race and the culture.

Scanno is about two hours from the Rome Airport almost all on highways. You will know when you start to hit Abruzzo as the mountains rise in their green and stone splendor. The last 20K once you leave the Autostrada are worth the entire experience. Twisting, winding, up and down. An absolute treat to drive. Be sure to keep your headlights on and listen for horns; the common way to alert oncoming traffic around one of the dozens of very tight and narrow hairpins. At the end you will come upon sparkling Lago di Scanno and the village is a scant 5K up the road.