The last of five stops on the XTERRA European Tour is this Saturday, September 10, and the 2011 Euro Tour titles will be on the line at the XTERRA Switzerland Championship in Prangins. XTERRA managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas is on-site for the race and brings us this report…
The European final is just two days away. It has been a fabulous season in Europe with great racing and sold out fields. The weatherman has been very cooperative. Yesterday and today were sunny and warm and race day is predicted to be 27-29C or in the low 80’s to those Fahrenheit folks.
The field is over 600 strong when combining Championship and Light. The lead story has to be German pro Ronny Dietz leading many time Champion Olivier Marceau for the European Pro title. Ronny is a tall, handsome man with an easy smile. He won XTERRA Germany a few years ago and is a consistent podium racer. However this year has been great for him with a brilliant win in the rain in Czech and second places in Italy and Germany. Marceau has won twice but has had some lower place finishes. Dietz leads on raw points by 20 – but the rules allow one race to be dropped and if we add up just the 3 best finishes this season the two protagonists are within 2 points of each other. It will all boil down to who finishes in front of the other regardless of place
It is not so close for the women with Marion “Bubu” Lorblanchet having a dream season winning 3 of 4 events. Renata Bucher is in second with one win but is 28 points behind. It would take a major meltdown or mechanical for the “Swiss Miss” to beat her French friend.
For any race, there is always the surprise and for the men it is the entry of Marcel Zamora, a five time Ironman Nice winner. That is not a typo – Zamora is the king of Nice and you can throw in two Monaco 70.3 victories to his very impressive CV. Zamora is here on Thursday riding the course so the Spanish champion is serious. It is also late in the season and that means that “The Professor” Nicolas Lebrun will be ready to win as he heads into the big money XTERRA fall.
For the women it is the return of many time XTERRA winner Sibylle Matter. Sibylle returns after taking a season off for the birth of her first child. Knowing her for many years, she is not back for a grand tour but to do well and nobody should be surprised if she stands on the podium.
Many of you probably think Switzerland – mountains – long climbs. If so, you would be wrong about our race venue. The village of Prangins is right on Lac Leman (also known as Lake Geneva) and only about 20K from the Geneva airport. It is more in the heart of rolling hills, vineyards and huge estates. The main compound, transition and finish is across the street from a genuine Castle, now the National Museum of Switzerland. Michael Schumacher, 7-time formula one world champion lives on the run course. And no, you gearheads, you cannot go into his garage.
Yesterday the water temp was a nice 20C (68F) but strong winds today whipped up this huge body of water, it is 45 miles long, and water temps dropped. The bike is very unusual with a combination of beautiful paths, singletrack through corn fields, narrow ledges under highways, water crossings and has but about 1,000′ total climbing. The run is similar being fast and not too technical but great fun. All disciplines are two laps and this race goes to the fastest not necessarily the best technical rider/runner.
Lots of hotels and pensions are in the area, the food is very French but always with Swiss Fondue. Views of the mountains are spectacular, especially with the clear fall weather. From the swim start you can look east to see Mont Blanc covered in snow and to the south the jet d’eau in the harbor of Geneva. The jet is one of the largest fountains in the world and puts 130 gallons of water a second up 450 feet into the sky.
The ancient city of Nyon is less than 5K away and the very cosmopolitan cities of Geneva and Lausanne just minutes by car. There is no shortage of great things to experience and see in this area. Anybody have an extra $100,000 for a watch? Switzerland is the home of Rolex, Patek-Philippe, Vacheron and in price all the way down to Swatch. In fact, the top Swiss male and female will win a Hublot timepiece – Hublot makes one of the most expensive watches in the world at the moment costing $105,000. The XTERRA awards are slightly less but stunning none the less.
More tomorrow as things progress and all the athletes arrive in Prangins.
Follow along with “Kahuna Dave’s” adventures on the XTERRA Facebook page.
Tim DeBoom to race on September 24th
American triathlon legend Tim DeBoom, 40, will make his XTERRA debut at the USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah on September 24.
We caught up with the two-time Ironman World Champion from Boulder, Colorado and asked him why he’s taking his talents off-road…
“Because all I’ve ever heard is how much fun XTERRA races are,” said DeBoom.
“I have a passion for mountain biking more than anything on the road, and I hope my skills eventually catch up with how much I love being out on the trails. XTERRA still seems to be a bit of a throwback to when I first got into the sport, and I am truly craving that after so many years focused on one event of the much longer variety. This sport is supposed to be about fun and challenging yourself. It is time the fun part came back into the sport for me, and I know this will challenge me.”
Speaking of challenges, just last month DeBoom won the famed Norseman Xtreme iron-distance triathlon in Norway, dubbed one of the hardest triathlons in the world.
While it is clear he has the endurance for XTERRA, which has winning times of about 2.5 hours as opposed to 8.5 hour Ironmans, the question all road triathletes are asked before their first knobby tire race – do you have mountain bike skills?
“My mountain biking is coming along. I’ve been riding for quite a number of years, but racing is totally different. I know I need some time getting used to race speeds and efforts. It is going to be hard, and I hope my skills improve over the next month,” said DeBoom.
DeBoom joins a long list of past Ironman World Champions to give XTERRA racing a try, a list that includes Chris McCormack, Peter Reid, Faris Al-Sultan, Greg Welch, Scott Molina, and Scott Tinley. None of those big names ever won an XTERRA USA or World Championship, however, and perhaps the best showing came from Tinley who placed 4th in the inaugural XTERRA World Championship back in 1996. Still, for someone with stellar credentials like DeBoom (top three in Kona from 1999-2002 and a long list of other titles) expectations must be running high.
“My goals are pretty simple: enjoy these first couple races, finish them (no terrible injuries!) and then try to do as many as I can next year as well,” explained DeBoom. “I have no illusions of grandeur that I will come out and beat these guys that have focused on the series for so long. My swim and run will be fine, but I know the races are weighted toward the bike, so I have some work to do.”
In those years when DeBoom was the king of Kona in 2001 and 2002, an XTERRA rookie named Conrad Stoltz was the monarch of Maui – winning his first two XTERRA World Titles in the same years. In what amounts to a triathlon fantasy league type match-up, the endurance sports world will get to see these two legends go head-to-head in a few short weeks.