Energy problems

Because I had to drop out of XTERRA Malta with energy problems, I’m confronted again with “my” problem.

All my career I have this big, huge, drop in my performance or energy levels after 1h30 of racing at a constant high intensity. When I was 16, finishing a 2h endurance ride was very difficult. Luckily, with getting stronger over the years I have no more problem doing longer endurance training session without bonking all the time. But this problem was the reason to stop doing Ironman races. I simply couldn’t do the training.

When I race at endurance pace instead of real racing, I can finish in the top 15 of an XTERRA. But this is not why I train and work so hard. When I race an XTERRA two things can happen:

1)I race hard and after 1h30 I have to go a lot slower but survive and finish somewhere between 5th and 12th.

2)I race hard and after 1h30 I bonk so hard that I have to walk most parts of the race. This is when I finish somewhere between 50th and 100th position. Sadly enough, this happened a lot.

My biggest dream in sport is to “race” an XTERRA from start to finish. That would be so cool.

I have to do a lot more test and consultations with specialists because I still believe there must be a solution. To me there are two reasons who create this problem: dehydration and not absorbing the consumed sugars (carbohydrates) during exercising at race intensity for a prolonged period.

1)Dehydration: during training and racing at all intensities I have to pee a lot. A LOT. Up to 4 times in the first hour is not an exception, 2 to 3 times is standard. Even when I add electrolytes to my drinks, it happens. And when I pee, it’s not just a little bit of urine, it’s a lot. In the first hour of exercising I pee more fluids than I’ve taken in all day before the start of the training session or race. This must create dehydration because I don’t know if there is enough water in my body to do it’s normal work after losing so much of urine, considering that I’m also losing water through sweating.

2)I don’t absorb sugars during racing. Maybe this is a result of the dehydration, maybe it isn’t. If it is, the solution is simple. Fix the dehydration problem and everything is solved. It it’s a problem on it’s own, there is a lot of other work to do. Do I have a problem absorbing complex sugars like maltodextrine? Do I have an allergy? Does one of my organs stops doing its job at a certain intensity? And many more questions.

I know it’s not about training or about the mental aspect of racing at a high level under a certain pressure. It’s a physical/medical thing that’s not right. I’m 100% sure about this and extremely determinated to find the solution. I’ve put too much energy and passion into this amazing sport for 20 years and I know what I can and what I can’t. I don’t take the easy road and consider doping as an option. I prefer to finish last pro and look for honest ways to fix my problem(s).

I want to thank all my friends, sponsors, family, Elisabetta and to my surprise some of my fellow pro athletes for their support no matter what and for helping me to find the solution.


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Like there aren’t particularly a lot of sardines in Sardinia or canaries at the Canarian island, we didn’t spot a lot of Maltese dogs in Malta.


But Elisabetta and I were not in Malta for sightseeing, we were ready to race hard against the best European XTERRA triathletes.


Elisabetta had an amazing race. She battled until the final kilometer with Maud Golsteyn for the podium. She lost that battle with 12 seconds, but she finished for the first time in her career in the top 5 of an XTERRA race.

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With this result she becomes the best Sardinian cross triathlete ever. She turned the mountainbike part of the race into her weapon in one winter. From losing too much time to setting one of the best bike splits.

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All the training on her Scott Spark in the Villacidro mountains payed of. Her coach Renata Bucher can be proud and happy, she’s making the progress we were all hoping for.




My race…


Good swim, first 20K of mountainbiking were good, started feeling weak, made a lot of mistakes in transition area because I couldn’t focus, ran 500m, had to start walking because I felt I was going to collapse, walked 500m and dropped out of the race.

Yes, I dropped out. The first time since god knows when. Why? Because it was to dangerous and because there is absolutely no point of finishing a race in 100th position while walking instead of racing at the front. I’ve finished too many races like this and I decided this winter to drop out if I have this problem again.

So, what is the problem? Read more here.


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A month of early season racing

The start of my 2015 campaign was spectacular: XTERRA South Africa, Cross Duathlon Sinnai and Cross Duathlon Berchidda. Three weeks of racing.


XTERRA South Africa was an amazing experience, but my race was bad. I finished 12th after feeling slow in all 3 disciplines. This was not a real showing of my level, even if it was the first race of the year for me. The reason? I don’t know… I guess it’s a combination of several small things that weren’t perfect: a big travel a few days before the race, the huge difference in temperature between a European winter and an African summer, maybe some mistakes in my nutrition the hours before the race, … I will never know for sure what went wrong. JT Bike


As bad as my performance was, so amazing was the race. Perfect organization, technical mtb course, it’s no surprise that this is the biggest XTERRA event in the world. The nice people of StillWaterSports sure know how to set up a perfect event.

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The day after the race, while being very disappointed for this missed opportunity, Conrad Stoltz gave me one of the best days of my career. In the morning he took a group of European Pro athletes to his favorite trails around Stellenbosh and Jonkershoek. These are trails build for mountainbiking and some of the best mountainbikers of the world spend their off season training on these trails. It was so much fun. We had a great time!


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In the afternoon Conrad had an even bigger surprise for me. He picked me up at my hotel with his BMW motorbike and we went cruising around Stellenbosch. He showed me the wine fields, some epic views and we ended our ride in the center for a glass of wine and tapas where his amazing pregnant wife Liezel joined us. Conrad is a 7 time off road triathlon world champion. He’s the Ali or the Phelps of our sport. But he’s not just a great athlete, he’s a wonderful person with great values in life.




Elisabetta couldn’t join me on the trip to South Africa because she can’t miss too many days at the university, but one week after XTERRA South Africa we raced together in Sinnai, Sardegna.


It was a cross duathlon on a short but technical course. We both won, an amazing experience.

Eliasabetta run

I don’t know if it was the frustration of my bad result at XTERRA South Africa or something else, but I raced very aggressively. After the first run I attacked the bike course and took off alone. I knew I was leading but kept on pushing as hard as I could.


Nobody gave me splits so I didn’t know if somebody was catching me or not. But I didn’t care, I wanted to test myself, feel the pain and push myself through it. I was in a lot of pain all the time but I was going fast. The complete opposite of what happened in South Africa so I was happy with what was happening.

JT bike

JT run

Completely exhausted, happy, relieved and with a seven minute lead I crossed the finish line.

JT finish

A week later we raced in Berchidda, the same format as in Sinnai but this time we had to race in the Sardinian mountains. Two climbs of 4km made us a little bit nervous because after our wins in Sinnai we wanted to repeat. For the Sardinians this was an important race. The race in Berchidda counted as the Sardinian Cross Duathlon Championships.



Elisabetta dominated the women’s race and took the title.


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I didn’t feel as good and as aggressive as the week before but I could make the difference on the steepest climbs and the technical single tracks. Another win and another confirmation that I’m fit and ready to race another year at the highest level.


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JT bike


On March 29 Elisabetta and I will race XTERRA Malta. The first race of the European XTERRA season. The best European athletes will be there, we can’t wait to see where we are after a winter of good training.

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Patrick Gaudy


Very very very sad news. Our friend Patrick Gaudy died after a truck hit him while he was training. So sad. To me Patke was a mentor and a friend. But he was a family man, a great athlete and a fantastic person.

We had endless talks about training, mostly discussions about training volume and the long ride. Because he worked full time and has a wife and two kids he never had the time to do a lot of training. Nevertheless, he was one of the best mountainbikers and cyclocross racers in Belgium. In the elite category amongst the professionals.

We talked a lot about XTERRA too, something he wanted to try one day. Before he became a top cyclist he was a swimmer. I don’t remember his exact swimming times, but it was fast. Under one minute for 100m free. He could have been an international triathlete too.

I got to know Pat when I raced for Barracuda, a bike shop in Wavre. He worked there from the start of the shop in the nineties. He was loved and respected by all his colleagues and all the customers.

He did amazing things on and of the bike. He was supported by many and not at least by his parents and his brother. But he would never tell how good or strong he was. He showed at the races that he was a great athlete.

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My off season

Here you can read what I did between the XTERRA World Championships in October and XTERRA South Africa next week (22nd of Feb).


I spend most of this period with my girlfriend Elisabetta in Villacidro, Sardegna. We did 90% of our training together and we supported each other where we can. GOPR0795


A lot of my free time was used to create the best possible mountainbike for me. This is the result. Spark 2015

One of the many benefits of spending the off-season in the mountains is the possibility to do a lot of equipment testing. These test didn’t only result in better equipment choices, but my mountainbike skills improved a lot. Here you have a video of me doing some testing at the Villacidro Downhill track.

Living close to nature is something I’ve always been attracted to. Heating the house with real fire, working in the olive fields to produce our own olive oil, drinking water from the mountains, … All these changes have a big impact on the quality of my life. I’m feeling happy, strong, healthy and extremely lucky. I haven’t touched a nutritional supplement in a looooong time and my blood levels are perfect. There must be something good about the Italian kitchen as well. It’s no surprise to me that Sardegna has the oldest people in the world.



Training has been going great. I continued working like I did last year with some small changes. In an average training week I swim 4 times, ride 5 times and run 3 times. Like the past years, all is done without heart rate monitor or powermeter.


This positive attitude, and a little push in the back from Elisabetta, made me decide to race XTERRA South Africa just 2 weeks before the event. Without a real preparation, but this doesn’t scare me. I know I’m really fit. That fact that I haven’t raced since October would have caused me a lot of stress in the past, but I’m confident I can deliver a good race in South Africa after a Sardinian off season.


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