XTERRA European Tour News

Olivier Marceau and Eszter Erdelyi Win XTERRA Italy Championship

Sunday, May 28, 2007

Early rain, thunder, and lightning gave way to a spectacular day for XTERRA Italy 2007 - the XTERRA European Championship.  A new venue for Sardinia's holiday paradise, Orosei, welcomed 300 athletes from sixteen countries with a 10:00 start.

The Golfo Di Orosei was mirror flat for the wetsuit legal two lap 1500 meter crystal clear white sand beach swim.  Jonathan Ciavattella , took an early lead from the gun and held off all others posting a 16:57 Swim Split. Olivier Marceau (Switzerland) followed a super quick team swimmer into T1 with a 17:12.

First out of the water for the ladies was Sibylle Matter (Switzerland) 19:16 besting the second quickest swimmer Eszter Erdelyi (Hungary) 20:33. The 100 meter run from the water was complete with cheering crowd, jamm'n music, and a fresh water rinse.

Transition featured wall to wall carpet, XTERRA signage, and spectators making for quick Swim to Bike transitions. The men quickly formed a pack with Marceau, Franky Batelier (France) and Gianpietro De Faveri (Italy) swapping the lead position several times.   Race reports from the two loop bike course kept the fans fully informed as they spun thru Transition and headed back out on the Bike.  The MTB featured a beautifully engineered temporary bridge that traversed a canal linking a small bay to the sea. 

However athletes had little time to take in the vacation brochure cover quality scenery - complete with fishing boats and wading birds during the 30k adventure. Cactus, hike-a-bike, crank'n ups, ripp'n downs challenged athletes from the start. Midway thru the bike, five riders, led by 2005 XTERRA World Champion and defending 2006 XTERRA Italy champion Nico LeBrun (France) and 2006 XTERRA Warrior Nico Pfitzenmaier (Germany), formed a chase pack - closing fast.

At the bridge crossing the ladies bike race was spoke to spoke close with Austria's Carina Wasle leading Matter back into the countryside and hills north of race central. Given that Wasle hit the bike course nearly three minute after Matter it was clear that Carina was out to challenge for the win - posting the ladies best bike split in 1:43:51. Erdelyi used the women's 2nd best bike, 1:47:15, to gap distance to the leaders.

Marceau departed T2 first with Batelier close behind.  De Faveri departed third onto the run with LeBrun having bested the chase pack back into T2 departing in fourth. 

While there was little elevation gain on the run - this was definitely XTERRA. The first portion resembled the USA XTERRA Championship course with tight turns and dips in the woods.  The second half is perhaps the most picturesque of all races with two shoreline beach segments, dunes, beautiful flowers, and view so spectacular you'd kick yourself for not bringing a camera.  Yet the scenery was deceiving - two swinging bridge canal crossings and the sugar sand kept your quads on the verge of cramping. Also challenging was the fact that this too was a two loop course - knowing that you had to repeat it all was as much a mental game as physical.

At T2 the women's leaders had set themselves up for an epic XTERRA showdown on the run.  Less than one half mile into the run, Wasle had taken the lead with Erdelyi on her shoulder. Matter was a close third - a hundred feet behind.  Athletes returned to Transition and were taunted by the Finish Line as they headed out for a second lap. At this turn Carina and Eszter were still stride for stride.

Just  few hundred feet from the finish line - for the benefit of athletes and spectators alike - a wooden bridge traversed both the bike and run outbound chutes. It was a tough climb so close to end. At the tape Olivier Marceau repeated his 2005 XTERRA Italy victory in 2:23:45. Franky Batelier fought hard to catch up but ran out of race - taking second in 2:24:38. Nico LeBrun and Gianpietro battled to end with LeBrun, last year's champ, taking the 3rd a mere 10 seconds ahead of Gianpietro.

Shortly after the half way point in the ladies run - Eszter Erdelyi dropped the hammer - taking the run prime nearly four minutes faster than all others enroute to the XTERRA Italy title with a finish of 2:50:43. Carnia Wasle cruised to second place with a 2:53:49. Third went to Sibylle Matter in 2:55:01.

The men's Age Group championship was just as hard fought as the Elite division.  Lars Erik Fricke (Germany) out raced Dirk Pauling (Switzerland) with a 2:38:59 vs. 2:39:43 to become XTERRA Italy's Amateur winner. Next up was Fred Wuhrmann (France) in 2:42:10. Stiff completion placed them 14th, 16th and 17th Overall.

Taryn Laurie (England) took the ladies title and secured her place at the XTERRA World Championship with a 3:15:54 finish.  Daniela Schellenberg (Switzerland) took second in 3:23:04. Third OA AG Female and Italian National Champion was Valereia Curridori.

Team USA showed well with Lynn Armstrong (Sausalito, CA) taking the 35-39 Championship. Intercontinental XTERRA Ambassador and multi-time World Champion Barbara Peterson (Berkeley, CA) added to her trophy shelve with the 50-54 XTERRA Italy victory.

The finish line festivities rivaled all others - complete with extensive TV and press coverage, spectacular post-race lunch, and ceremony fitting the XTERRA European Championship.  A special highlight - all finisher medals and champion trophies were handcrafted from local marble and shall be treasured by all who earned them.

A special mille grazie goes to our most gracious hosts, the Island Group, the community of Orosei, and the all the wonderful people of Italy.  The Race Directors and all the staff and volunteers deserve a huge round of applause.  Without a doubt, this was an incredibly special event, in a beautiful location and we know that it will continue to be an XTERRA favorite for many years to come!