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  • Writer's pictureDominik Wychera

Xterra Belgium WC #3 - European Championship

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

After I podiumed in Portugal 3 weeks ago, I knew that the form was already going in the right direction, but the fact that there was the largest elite starting field in history at the Xterra European Championship in Belgium motivated me extra for the preparations for this race.

I arrived on the Wednesday before to have enough time on the bike and running track to inspect and memorize every corner. Together with a friend from Denmark (current World Cup leader) and a friend from France (Xterra World Champion 2022) I lived in an airbnb not far from the swim start. Together we spent the days before the race and trained together.

Well prepared and fully motivated I started the race on Saturday June 10th, with me around 60 elite men and 30 elite women, 5 minutes behind us about 900 age group athletes. The swim course was a long lap of 1500m, I came out of the water with a solid pace, changed into my cycling shoes and was already on my way up to the Citadelle de Namur, an old fortress on the mountain, from there I continued into the forest where many trails were waiting for us.

In total it was 36km and 900hm that we had to cover on the bike. This was divided into 2 large and a small loop which had to be mastered in the sequence big-small-big. I found a good pace, the watts on the display were also good, but after the first big lap a marshal sent me to the left at a key point despite my query (instead of the right) and I started my 2nd big lap. At first I didn't realize that this was a wrong decision and kept giving it my all. Until I was overtaken twice by a stronger mountain biker, now I had doubts about the route.I quickly realized that in the heat of battle and the age group athletes who had just arrived at this spot after swimming, this marshal misassigned my bib number. Realizing my mistake, I finally added the short lap to the back before I went to the final run - so I had completed 100% of the bike course.

After quickly changing into my running shoes, I went on, a very steep running route, also divided into 2 laps, made it clear who still had enough energy left after the bike. The sun was strong and the air was really hot, 30 degrees in Namur/Belgium in the middle of June. At every refreshment point I poured water over my head and had a lot of fun stepping on the gas, lately I can really rely on my running legs. With the 8th best running time, I finally crossed the finish line as 19th in the elite, probably my best result at a major event with such a dense starting field.

I went to the official judges and organizers of this event to explain about my confusion on the bike. I was able to prove this with my GPS track, but I was disqualified after the race because I didn't complete the route in the right order. DSQ at the Xterra European Championship really hurts, so I wasn't allowed for the short track the next day and lost important points for the World Cup. While the fact that I'm in good form is a good confirmation, it's very small consolation in a situation like this.

Now I am heading to Switzerland where the Xterra Switzerland is waiting for me.


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