XTERRA European Tour Starts Next Sunday in Malta
The 15th season of racing on the XTERRA European Tour gets underway next Sunday, April 2, at the 3rd annual XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon.
“This year’s Euro Tour is bigger and stronger than ever with 15 races in some of the most iconic locations in Europe, where athletes will have the chance to qualify for Maui and collect points towards winning a Tour championship,” said marketing director Kostas Koumargialis. “With the new pointing system where all races count, the fight for the Euro Tour jersey in all categories will be really interesting.”
Surrounded by crystal clear sea and blessed with sun for most of the year, it’s no secret that Malta is a jewel in the middle of the Mediterranean and a great place for XTERRA athletes to start their racing season.
“Arriving in Malta you have to remember that the British influence is still here so if you rent a car you will have to drive on the left side of the road so if you are not familiar with that please be careful,” said Koumargialis. “Most of the roads are not so wide and as they are also influenced by the Italians, they drive fast ☺. You will come across historical sites and architectural gems around every corner. The varied scenery and the wealth of things to do and places to visit during your stay here will keep you wishing you had time to fit in more. Its rich history dates back about 7,000 years and the earliest temples pre-date Stonehenge and the pyramids.”
The Majjistral Nature Reserve and the Golden Sands Radisson Resort serve as headquarters to all the action. The course itself features a nice sandy beach, clear blue water, a rocky, but not too extreme mountain bike loop, and one of the best run loops on the circuit.
The Radisson is home to the registration area, finish line, and post-race pasta party and local beer. They’ve also set-up a new transition area in the Scouts Campsite that will offer a great atmosphere for spectators with music and fun stuff going on.
It will be interesting to see what kind of conditions racers will encounter this year. The last two years the swim leg has been very windy. The first year the wind was blowing from the sea building up some big waves, Maui-style, and last year from the shore, but the water was still choppy and not easy to swim. The bike loop has changed a little bit from previous years, as organizer Nathan Farrugia added some technical parts and two new climbs. It’s the kind of loop that fits perfectly to powerful athletes and fully bikes. The run part remains spectacular, a cliff-edge trail overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea that twists, turns, and climbs.
In the pro race both of last year’s champions, Brigitta Poor and Roger Serrano, will return to defend their titles.
“The woman field is really big,” said XTERRA European Tour director Nicolas Lebrun. “It includes Helena Erbenova, who is definitely the strongest female athlete in Europe for the last few years, Carina Wasle, who is fit and ready coming from a win in Saipan, and we are happy to see the return of Kathrin Mueller. She was very busy working for Skinfit the last two years, and it’s good to have her back. She was one of those girls who could challenge Helena more often than others in the past. We also have Maud Goldsteyn, Louise Fox and Kristina Lapinova. It will also be interesting to see what young Mendito from Italy can do in the full XTERRA distance. Last year in Switzerland in the ETU Junior race she smashed the field so I am looking forward to seeing them all starting the season.”
In the men’s race, for the first time ever, the man to beat is also an XTERRA Organizer.
“He is a great character, very good in communication but now also in this new role as the organizer of XTERRA in Spain, I’m interested to see if he is fit and ready to rock,” said Lebrun. “I think he’ll be ready. I saw him last month working for his race in Tarragona and he looked fit. Karl Shaw looks like one of his main contenders as he started strong last season winning Costa Rica, Francois Carloni is here but this fast race course does not suite him well as he prefers long and hard mtb sessions. The young guns are here too: Lehman, Wolper, Chané, Sasserath…this race was good for them last year when the top five men were all under 25 years old. But don’t forget Pyott, Thijs and Kubek are also here and will fight for the top 10.”
Learn more about Malta here and about the XTERRA European Tour here.
“This is the first race of the season and we see who has done what during the winter,” said Lebrun. “This year, every race counts so all I have to say is ladies and gentlemen: Start your engines!!”