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XTERRA England to Determine Champs
The XTERRA European Tour season finale takes to the trails of Vachary Estate in the village of Cranleigh on Sunday, September 8. It marks the first time England has hosted a major since 1997 and it’s an important one with Tour titles and qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds up for grabs.
While Helena Erbenova’s dominant mid-season five-race winning streak sealed the deal on her second straight European Tour championship last month, the men’s pro chase will come down to this.
In just his first full season of XTERRA 35-year-old Hector Guerra of Madrid has risen to the top of the standings. With 427 points - the result of three runner-up finishes, a 3rd and 4th - Guerra controls his own destiny and a top five finish would net him the crown, and make him the first non-Frenchman* to win the Euro Tour since Royce Kortekaas of the Netherlands captured the inaugural title in 2003.
The other two with a punchers chance of winning the Tour title are Yeray Luxem of Belgium, 2nd in points with 391, and the reigning and four-time Tour winner Nico Lebrun who sits in third with 387 points.
As for the race itself, there are several legitimate contenders on the start list, especially when you consider how diversity has ruled this year’s tour with six different men winning the seven European majors (only Ruben Ruzafa has won two).
Of note, Lebrun won the last race in England back in 2007, and this will be his final European race as an XTERRA pro having announced his attentions to retire and focus on coaching next season (he'll also compete at the USA and World Championships this year).
Lebrun, Guerra, and Luxem will be up against hometown hero and bike course designer Sam Gardner along with other British favorites like Richard Stannard and Asa Shaw; as well as Triple Crown and Greece champion Ben Allen and mountain bike guru Cedric Lassonde
The women’s race looks like it’ll be a great duel between the third and fourth ranked racers on the European Tour – Kathrin Muller from Germany and the UK’s own Jacqui Slack. Slack edged Muller to win XTERRA Germany just a few weeks ago, they finished 2-3 in Greece (advantage Slack), and 3-4 in Spain (advantage Muller).
All the action from Sunday will be filmed and edited for broadcast at a later date on Ch4, Sky Sports, and Eurosport. Here’s a look at the elite start list:
Pro Men: Sam Gardner (GBR), Nico Lebrun (FRA), Ben Allen (AUS), Graham Wadsworth (GBR), Paul Hawkins (GBR), Asa Shaw (GBR), Cedric Lassonde (FRA), Chris Carter (GBR), Yeray Luxem (BEL), Francois Carloni (FRA), Llewelyn Holmes (GBR), Ross Macdonald (GBR), Bryan Glynn (GBR), Richard Stannard (GBR), Hector Guerra (ESP), Matt Dewis (GBR)
Pro Women: Jacqui Slack (GBR), Kathrin Muller (GER), Eli Thorogood (GBR), Daz Parker (GBR), Natalie Barnard (GBR), Nienke Oostra (AUS), Brigitta Poor (HUN).
XTERRA European Tour Standings (thru 7 - pros count best six)
Past XTERRA European Tour Champions
*Disclaimer: 3x Euro Tour winner and Olympian Olivier Marceau represents Switzerland but lives in France.
AGE GROUP CHAMPIONS
While the majority of age group titles will not be decided until Sunday, there are several athletes who have already secured championships including Mathieu Wohlgemuth (FRA) 15-19, Jan Pyott (SUI) 30-34, Patrick Lictsteiner (FRA) 40-44, Bernd Pannewitz, pictured (GER) 50-54, Peter Naegeli (SUI) 55-59, Jean-Louis Moreau (FRA) 60-64, and Rebecca Kaltenmeier (GER) 30-34.
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