Xterra European Championship – Czech Republic

The European Championship is the highlight of the Xterra European Tour. Almost every PRO Athlete is lining up, the race is bigger, stronger, faster and harder.

As I raced there back in 2015 for my first and last time, and I had to stop during the race because of multiple punctures on my tires, I definitely had to get back there. The last couple of years it just didn’t fit into my racing calendar, but this year when it was European Champs, I had to go there, and it was a big goal of me to perform well.

We traveled there early enough to practice the course. They changed it quite a bit, so it was new for me. The lake was obviously the same, we had to swim 2 loops with a little running passage in between. This time, due to the big starting field, they moved the transition area 1 to a bigger field so we had to run further to get to our bikes.

The bike course was super epic, there was lots of technical climbing and single trail sections. This race has 2 transition areas, and the second one is lower than the first one, so a good downhill technique is important for this race.

The run was tough, also some steep sections and mostly in the forest, really fun out there on the trails. In the end you reach the old town center of Prachatice for the second time where the finish line is in the middle of the city square- hundreds of people cheering.

Raceday

I felt pretty good in the morning and recovered and well trained after Xterra Italy/Scanno, which was 2 weeks before. I checked in my running shoes in transition 2, took my bike and went up to the lake to transition 1. I checked in there too, mounted my bike, my bike shoes, helmet and glasses to be ready to race. Shortly before the start it started to rain. I was well warmed up, but waited in my rain jacket until 15 minutes before the start- I did a 5 minutes swim warm up and was ready to go.

The PRO field started ahead of the age groupers, we were not allowed to use wetsuits, but the mass behind us was allowed. I got caught from a few age group athletes, because as we know, I am not the best swimmer.

Credits: Carel du Plessis

Onto my bike I felt ready to go, to push myself to the front, overtake some athletes and make up some time that I lost on the swim. I felt strong on the first few kilometers, I climbed well and was fast on the downhills. After a while I didn’t feel good, my legs started to feel heavy and weak. I tried to push threw it, but it didn’t help, it was too painful. After riding along for a couple of kilometers I found my girlfriend on the course cheering for me and making pictures. But I knew I wanted to stop and leave the race behind. It was the best decision and my health always comes first.

So I couldn’t finish the Xterra European Championship 2019, but I also couldn’t finish the Xterra Czech Republic for the second time. But I know one thing: I come back again.

On the next day there was a “short track race” for the best of the field from the day before- this time I was watching from the beginning, and it was a complete new feeling for me not being in the race. But it was a good one too.