All Eyes on XTERRA France this Weekend

Thursday 04 July 2019
XTERRA France is known for being one of the hardest events, with a tough bike course. While our elite athletes will race for glory, there will be a race for the age group athletes to make the finish line before the cut off.
 
Ruben Ruzafa has waited until July to start his XTERRA season. The Spaniard has won nearly everything in his career. Multiple World and European titles, and he returns to France having won the last five editions! This long MTB loop with several big climbs suits Ruzafa perfectly so he will start as the big favorite on Sunday.

His biggest challenge should come from Arthur Forissier, the French athlete has been unstoppable this year with wins at XTERRA Lake Garda, Switzerland and the ITU Cross Tri World Championships in Pontedvedra (beating Rufaza in the process). Racing in his home country in front of his biggest fans could provide the extra motivation to win XTERRA France for the first time.   

Alongside Forissier, there will be four further French athletes with a chance of winning at home. Arthurr Serrieres won XTERRA Greece and finished second at XTERRA Lake Garda and just won the ETU Cross Duathlon Championships on Tuesday in Romania. The 2018 European Tour Champion François Carloni has been preparing specifically for this race looking to improve on his third place finish in 2015.

Veteran athlete Cedric Fleureton races having recorded two second place finishes this year at XTERRA Tahiti and Switzerland. Maxim Chané will look to put on a big performance. He finished an uncharacteristic 11th last week at XTERRA Switzerland at the end of a big training block, but with some rest this week he will be firing on all cylinders in Xonrupt.   

Third time lucky for Xavier Dafflon? The Swiss athlete had his bike stolen in 2017, and a race ending mechanical in 2018 so will be wanting to show what he is capable of at XTERRA France. Current European Tour leader Rui Dolores was only 15th last year, but 2019 has seen a new level of racing from the Portuguese athlete that could see him break the top 5 positions this year.

Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (Denmark), Geert Lauryssen (Belgium) and Samuel Jud (Switzerland) will all have a similar route towards a potential top ten finish. Limiting their losses on the swim, hammering the bike and hanging on during the run! Multiple Ironman and 70.3 Champion Stephen Bayliss from the UK could also be one to watch. His ability to race hard for a long time is without doubt and he is skilled on a mountain bike.
 
8 DOLORES Rui POR
13 DAFFLON Xavier SUI
2 FORISSIER Arthur FRA
3 SERRIERES Arthur FRA
12 LEHMANN Peter GER
14 JUD Samuel SUI
4 CARLONI Francois FRA
5 LAURYSSEN Geert BEL
24 HALL Doug GBR
28 SLOTH NIELSEN Jens Emil DEN
23 WYCHERA Dominik AUT
25 DUPRAS Théo FRA
29 FLEURETON Cédric FRA
35 FIGINI Francesco ITA
7 ROTH Jens GER
21 DUŠEK Karel CZE
6 CHANE Maxim FRA
17 LADET Romaric FRA
16 BROCHET Pierric FRA
314 DESSERPRIT Mathieu FRA
11 DANON Maxime FRA
1 RUZAFA CUETO Ruben ESP
9 SLEIGHT Henry GBR
19 SIBILLE Charly FRA
20 DOUBEY Loïc FRA
10 HOLMES Llewellyn GBR
27 CHARLTON Taylor AUS
32 CRUDGINGTON Will GBR
18 FORISSIER Félix FRA
34 GATTI Tommaso ITA
26 HUGHES Callum GBR
15 PERRIN-GANIER Neïlo FRA
31 RICCIARDI Joseph GBR
33 STAPS Joep NED
22 BAYLISS Stephen GBR

It's impressive to see 19 elite women on the start list for XTERRA France. With seven athletes from last years top 10 returning we should see a level of competition typically only seen at continental championships. This years big favorite will be Morgane Riou from France. She won XTERRA Italy Lake Garda, XTERRA Belgium, and the ETU Cross Triathlon and Duathlon last week in Romania. Riou has always been a solid athlete but this is a new status for her as outright favorite. Could she be the first French woman to win in France since Marion Lorblanchet in 2010?

Helena Karaskova from the Czech Republic will be Riou’s biggest challenge. She has won XTERRA France many times and won XTERRA Denmark three  weeks ago, proving that she is still strong and ready to fight. She is a very strong biker and with no recent SwimRun events she will be fresh and undoubtably will post one of the fastest bike/run combinations. Another fast runner is Camille Defer from France. She won XTERRA Switzerland last week and will also challenge for the podium. Finishing fifth overall last year as an Age Group athlete. With a win in her pocket and some good confidence I am sure she will be in the race of the top 3.
 
Carina Wasle from Austria is the current European Tour leader. She won XTERRA Cyprus but after a DNF in Romania last week she may not be at 100%. Hopefully she can recover in time to challenge for a result, but if not she may employ a damage limitation strategy to secure some Tour points and keep her lead in the series. With a long bike course featuring some tough climbs, this may not be the race for the UK’s Nicole Walters. After struggling at the early season races she showed a glimpse of what she is capable of at XTERRA Switzerland building a big lead before a broken wheel took her out of contention. She might not be ready for the top step of the podium, but she might not be far off it.
 
Fabiola Corona makes the trip all the way from Mexico to race in France. XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champion in 2018 and fifth at the 2019 Asia-Pacific Champs earlier this year shows that she is ready to fight for a top five position in Europe. Swiss Champion Ladina Buss is fresh off a second-place at XTERRA Switzerland last week, her strong mountain bike will allow her to ride towards the front of the race. Italian Sandra Mairhofer podiumed in both Triathlon and Duathlon at the ETU Cross champs in Romania last week, so will look to keep that momentum going with a strong finish in France. Like her husband, Bella Bayliss from the UK races with us in France. Bayliss has won multiple Ironman and 70.3 Titles around the world, we look forward to welcoming her into the XTERRA family on Sunday.

42 WASLE Carina AUT
45 TOMICA Anna POL
41 KARÁSKOVÁ ERBENOVÁ Helena CZE
47 DÖRING Maria GER
55 DEFER Camille FRA
46 VIE Pauline FRA
48 RIOU Morgane FRA
49 WALTERS Nicole GBR
51 PATIES Alizée FRA
57 BUSS Ladina SUI
54 MAIRHOFER Sandra ITA
43 NIKLAUS Angela SUI
52 LEBERON Ségolène FRA
44 ROBERTS Jessica GBR
58 AGUAYO Maria ESP
53 BAYLISS Bella GBR
50 BRYCHTOVA Anna CZE
56 CORONA GARCIA Adriana Fabiola MEX
414 DAMMEKENS Mandy BEL
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