Big Show Set for XTERRA Belgium

Friday 07 June 2019
The XTERRA European Tour heads into primetime this weekend with a showcase event at the fourth annual XTERRA Belgium off-road triathlon in Namur on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

More than 40 elites from a dozen countries are on the start list, including seven of the top 10 ranked men on the European Tour and the top three women from last year’s race.  The sixth of 14 stops on the Tour, XTERRA Belgium races around the famous Citadel and through thousands of spectators who flock to the castle crossings and forest trails to cheer on competitors.

“Not only is this race well known for the big post-race party, but also the number of spectators out on the course encouraging racers as they make their way up the famous Citadel climb,” said XTERRA European director Nicolas Lebrun.  “And it’s a beautiful course.  A single lap swim takes competitors around an island in the middle of the Meuse River before heading out onto the tracks in the forest for the bike and around the Citadel for the run. This course proves Belgium is not flat.  There are a lot of short and tough climbs, so athletes must be both physically and technically strong to do well here. With a very strong field of over 45 elites and the a lot of the best amateurs from all over Europe, it will be a great show.”

In the men’s elite race last year’s champion Francois Carloni from France is back and out to prove last year’s victory was no fluke.

“That’s my first big goal of the season, to defend this title,” said Carloni, the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champ who placed ninth at XTERRA Worlds last year.

What makes Carloni’s recent accomplishments remarkable is the fact that he also works full-time as the owner/manager of a hardware store (read his story at xterraplanet.com).

Lebrun, who noted that Carloni had the best season of his career in 2018, added that “last year’s race was shaped by mechanicals and crashes with some big names taken out of contention, paving the way for Carloni to win an exciting race, even after fixing his own mechanical!”

With more than 30 other elite men to contend with this year, Carloni’s challenge will be even greater this time around.  

“One of those athletes who will want revenge for last year is Arthur Serrieres, after he crashed and was not able to finish,” said Lebrun.  “So far in 2019 he won XTERRA Greece, was second at XTERRA Lake Garda, and third at XTERRA Tahiti just last weekend. He is a very consistent athlete and will be tough to beat, so it will be interesting to see how he has managed his recovery and travel ahead of the race here in Belgium which will be his third race in as many weeks.”

Serrieres isn’t quite sure what to expect from himself on Saturday, saying “It's going to be a hard doing three races in a row plus 12 hours of jet lag. I was not at 100% in Tahiti and I am thinking I won’t be better in Belgium, but I love this race and am ready to fight.”

Fillippo Rinaldi will also be challenging for the podium after a win at XTERRA Cyprus and a third-place showing at home in Italy.

“He is not as experienced at mountain biking as some of the other XTERRA elites, so he will need to work hard through the technical sections, but I am sure he will be near the front,” said Lebrun.

The home country will be well-represented with nine Belgian elites on the startline, including the race’s inaugural champion Kris Coddens.

XET Rank/’18 BEL Position - Name, NAT
2/12 - Samuel Jud, SUI
3/8 - Xavier Dafflon, SUI
4/NR - Arthur Serrieres, FRA
6/NR - Filippo Rinaldi, ITA
7/1 - Francois Carloni, FRA
8/NR - Peter Lehmann, GER
10/3 - Geert Lauryssen, BEL
15/5 - Yeray Luxem, BEL
18/NR - Maximilian Sasserath, GER
20/NR - Doug Hall, GBR
22/45 - Kris Coddens, BEL
26/10 - Francesco Figini, FRA
27/6 - Corentin Duclos, FRA
NR/4 - Théo Dupras, FRA
NR/7 - Wouter Vander Mast, BEL
NR/9 - Fausto Fognini, ITA
NR/11 - Veit Hönle, GER
NR/31 - Henry Sleight, GBR
NR/NR - Sébastien Carabin, BEL
NR/NR - Andres Carnevali, ESP
NR/NR - David De Grooff, BEL
NR/NR - Victor Goené, NED
NR/NR - Chatten Jonathan, GBR
NR/NR - Alex Kling, NED
NR/NR - Romaric Ladet, FRA
NR/NR - Joseph Ricciardi, GBR
NR/NR - Tim Van Hemel, BEL
NR/NR - Rob Woestenborghs, BEL
NR/NR - Alejandro Bulacio Sfriso, ARG
NR/NR - Damien Guillemet, FRA
NR/NR - Mathieu Desserprit, FRA
NR/NR - Tim Van Daele, BEL
NR/NR - Christophe Betard, FRA

In the women’s elite race last year’s winner, French athlete Morgane Riou, is back to defend her title.

“She will be full of confidence as not only is she the defending champion, but she put in a fantastic performance just two weeks ago to win XTERRA Italy - Lake Garda,” said Lebrun.

The 2018 European Tour Champion Carina Wasle, who could regain the overall lead in the Tour with a good performance on Saturday, should also be confident heading into Namur. She was third last year and comes to Belgium straight from a win at XTERRA Tahiti.

“Can't wait to soak up the amazing atmosphere at XTERRA Belgium, there are lots of people who shout, high five, and push you around the course and so you have to go fast, you have no choice.” said Wasle, the most well-traveled athlete in all of XTERRA.  “It’s been quite a roller coaster season so far. I jumped in with a win in Cyprus, got injured in Greece, couldn't start at ITU Worlds because of the injury, had mechanicals in Malta, and now just had a good comeback win in Tahiti. I’m still recovering from injury, but I'm going in the right direction to be 100% ready again.”

Nicole Walters was second at XTERRA Belgium last year, so she should also be troubling for a podium spot. She was third at ITU Cross Tri Worlds, proving she can be one of the best in the sport on any given day.

XET Rank/’18 BEL Position - Name, NAT
2/3 - Carina Wasle, AUT
3/NR - Anna Tomica, POL
9/2 - Nicole Walters, GBR
11/1 - Morgane Riou, FRA
16/NR - Mathilde Bolzan, ITA
20/NR - Camille Defer, FRA
NR/NR - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
NR/NR - Helene Pietrenko, FRA
NR/NR - Janni Spangsberg, DEN
NR/NR - Segolene Leberon, FRA
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