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Madsen gears up for Maui: Xterra Worlds preview

Canadian Karsten Madsen is among the favourites for Sunday's Xterra World Championship in Hawaii. A preview of this weekend's pro races.

Karsten Madsen at Xterra Quebec.

Canadian Karsten Madsen arrives at this Sunday’s Xterra World Championship as one of the pre-race favourites, taking on a stacked field that includes four previous winners who all finished ahead of him (he was seventh) last year.

Madsen has had a break-out 2019 Xterra season, including a win at Xterra Dominican Republic and podium finishes at Victoria, Quebec, Beaver Creek and Mexico – despite that fact that he had heart issues in April that required a cardio ablation study in June.

“Since I got cleared from that I’ve just been getting better and better each race,” Madsen says. “I’m motivated in a way I’ve never been before. I’m just grateful to race and be able to express my fitness and that mindset netted me my best Xterra season yet after a pretty bleak outlook.”

Madsen is taking on possibly the most competitive men’s field in the race’s history, including defending men’s champion Rom Akerson from Costa Rica, 2017 champion Bradley Weiss from South Africa, 2015 winner Josiah Middaugh from the U.S., and three-time champion (2008, 2013 and 2014) Ruben Ruzafa from Spain (2008/2013-2014).

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Also in the field are New Zealand’s Sam Osborne, who won Xterra Victoria earlier this year, along with France’s Arthur Forissier, who won the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in April, and his countryman Arthur Serrieres, who won the Xterra European Championship in the Czech Republic

Duffy and Paterson duel

After having to sit out last year’s race due to injury, four-time champion Flora Duffy returns to Maui determined to get a fifth title. That won’t be easy, though, for the Bermuda star who is also a two-time ITU world champion – she’ll be facing the defending champion Lesley Paterson, a three-time winner from Scotland.

They’ll be facing a tough European contingent that includes Morgane Riou from France who won four races including the European Championship, Helena Karaskova from the Czech Republic who won her fifth Euro Tour title, Loanne Duvoisin from Switzerland, and Carina Wasle from Austria who won the Asia-Pacific Tour this year.

Canada’s Katie Button, who was 14th in Maui last year, is the lone Canadian woman in the pro field.