XTERRA European Tour News

Lebrun and Dibens win XTERRA UK; Lebrun and Erdelyi are European Tour Champs

September 17, 2007

A fantastic end to an unusual European XTERRA season.  The year started with a fantastic new race site in Sardinia in late May.  Scheduling problems delayed the balance of the season until August and the European weather Gods were not cooperating.  Denmark, Austria and Germany had race days that were without rain, but the days leading up to them were overcast and wet.  The whole of Europe had a dismal summer, but for XTERRA, everything came right at the end.  Oddly enough, the land of rain – Great Britain and in particular Wales – became the land of sun and warmth. 

Enough weather history.  A new compound location in the village of Resolven worked really well.  The Resolven Rugby Club offered up two pitch’s that easily housed T2, the finish, the compound and 60 great campsites, with room to spare.  Showers and a great meeting room added to the show.  We have a place to grow for years to come.

The swim was in the same reservoir as last year, and although the water was not warm, it was better than in Germany a week ago.  Swimmers made a deep water start and did the perimeter of the lake, a distance of about 1200m.  Gary Dressel a 35-39 age grouper won the swim just a few feet ahead of Yank and USA Champ Seth Wealing.  The amazing Julie Dibens was 3rd out of the water and nearly 3 minutes ahead of the second woman; Hungarian Eszter Erdelyi.

Dibens simply disappeared after that.  She hosted and taught a camp here a month ago and was very familiar with every stone and rut on the new 29K bike course.  Michelle Lombardi (South Africa) did not have a good swim, but made up gobs of time on Erdelyi and came out of T2 in front; but only by a few meters.  When she passed me, Michelle looked over and said “she’s going to kill me on the run”.  I had no idea what she meant until Eszter came by a few seconds later.  At this point in time no woman can run with the Hungarian and Lombari knew it.

In the men’s race, Wealing and the other pro’s quickly passed Dressel and headed out to the Welsh mountains for a truly great bike course.  Wales is rich in hills and valleys and is a mountain bike paradise.  This course, with a bit of tweeking and maturity will become a classic.  Wealing got his directions mixed up and took a wrong turn at an intersection.  Young German Felix Schumann was just behind and yelled to Wealing to turn around, but the American headed in the wrong direction and lost a lot of time he never made up.  Nico Lebrun was coming up through the pack, but it was points leader Ronny Dietz of Germany who led Schumann 45 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Liewe Boonstra and Belgium’s Jim Thijs.  Lebrun had positioned himself well only a few seconds back of 4th knowing the run in Wales might be the toughest one in Europe.

The run proved Dietz’ undoing this day and he dropped over 3 minutes to Lebrun.  Schumann and Boonstra had great runs to pass Ronny, but the spectre of Nico looming behind them caused concern.  Boonstra was the first to get passed and soon the young German could hear Nico’s footsteps.  Instead of focusing ahead, Felix turned to see where Nico was and the Frenchman pounced.  Felix and Nico stayed step for step to the end.  “Felix was the stronger today, but he is young and kept looking for me” Nico said; “He will learn and win many races soon”.  Nico won by a scant 9 seconds !!

Eszter Erdelyi’s mission was to come here and win a Championship and that is exactly what she did.  Her second place in Wales put her on top of Sibylle Matter and Carina Wasle in points to become the 2008 Champion.  Eszter, like Felix, is young and looking forward to next season.  Somehow she feels she isn’t strong enough.  I’m not sure I agree with her, and if she gets any stronger, look out ladies.

And speaking of strong, a healthy Julie Dibens is headed for Hawaii and this will produce perhaps the best women’s field in history.  We all know Melanie and Jamie, but coming back will be Sibylle Matter (Swiss), a more experienced and fit Carina Wasle (Austria), a strong mountainbiker Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer (Australia/Austria) and now Ms. Dibens.  With Julie,  Sibylle and Candy Angle’s speed in the water, Maui will be great to follow as McQuaid, Whitmore, Wasle, Jenny Smith and Baylis-Scheiderbauer all chase the lead.

For the the XTERRA European Tour, Nico’s second win of the year put him ahead of Dietz for the men’s XTERRA Championship.  “The Kid” Schumann put himself in third, Belgium Jim Thijs finished 4th in just his second year and Liewe Boonstra had a great year to place in the top 5.

For Maui the men’s field is every bit as impressive as the women’s with even greater unknown’s.  There will be a French invasion with German winner Franky Batelier and 2006 XTERRA France winner Cedric Fleurton coming to backup the always dangerous Lebrun.  Swiss Olivier Marceau will be back to avenge last year’s almost win and Dietz, Schumann and Pfitzenmaier will represent Germany well.  Spain’s Eneko and Hecktor Llanos must not be forgotten and names like Liewe Boonstra, Jim Thijs, Czech Jan Kubicek and a returning David Vito Henestrosa could surprise.

Everybody wonders about Conrad.  We don’t, but the Caveman would have his hands full with Canada’s Mike Vine and Americans Seth Wealing, Josiah Middaugh,  Greg Krause and Brian Smith much less with a dozen Europeans.  This field is as strong as any race anywhere in the world.

So everything now leads to Maui.  A great season of racing that started in Argentina and ended in Wales, with South Africa, New Zealand, Saipan, Brazil, Japan and Costa Rica joining a great European Tour (Italy, Denmark, Austria, Germany) in between.

It all comes down on October 28.  I think you need to be there