After XTERRA Czech, Jasmin and I drove to Zittau, Germany, for the European XTERRA Championships. With non-stop smiles on our faces we arrived in Zittau. After a day of mud, rain and a great race result in Czech, this is what we found in Zittau:
I had only one week to recover from XTERRA Czech, so we spend our time relaxing, enjoying the scenery and hiding from the thunderstorms from time to time. But I made one big mistake. I wanted so bad to be good at the race that I spend too much time on the bike course to learn the track.
During the week more and more of our friends arrived. My good friend Wouter traveled with his family:
More and more Belgian age-groupers our finding their way to the fantastic XTERRA world:
The day before the race we had a Pro Meeting and press conference with all the top guns. Even with the presence of all the European top guys, and a few stars from the USA and Australia, I felt really confident that I would beat most of them. XTERRA Czech gave me a real confidence boost.
After the Pro Meeting I had a short swim with Nico Lebrun and Olivier Marceau. One day later Nico turned out to be the best guy in the race, but a puncture sidelined him for some time. He still finished 4th, respect. Olivier proved again why he’s a 3x Olympian and multiple European XTERRA Champion: he became the 2011 European Champion, again.
Nico and I always look like twins. We are both sponsored by Sailfish and Skinfit.
And “Kahuna” Dave Nicholas from XTERRA was there to entertain us and to help the German race directors:
Then it was time to get the bike race ready. I decided to race with my training wheels. If you can consider Notubes ZTR Crest wheels as “training wheels”. I had The Raven tires mounted on these wheels and I preferred them for all the high speed parts of the bike course. With 9.3Kg this gave me a very light 29er set up, even without my race wheels.
The day started like a dream: blue sky, fit body, big race. I was ready.
But after a few minutes in the water my day was over. No energy! With every stroke I knew I was getting closer to my Tomac Bike, ready to fly like in Czech. When I jumped on my bike, I still got some media attention.
I felt normal during the first kilometers on the mtb. Not as bad as during the swim, but I wasn’t flying like in Czech. The second part of the bike was not good. It felt like racing with only 50% of my normal energy, and after 20km of biking I used all that energy. This left me really empty for the run. I started running in 13th position and finished 14th. Very disappointed.
Only one conclusion: I wasn’t recovered from racing in Czech. The reason: I spend too much time practicing on the tough bike course in Zittau. Lesson learned.
Bike: Tomac Flint 29 medium
Wheels: Notubes ZTR Crest 29er
Tires: Notubes The Raven 2.0
Shades: Oakley Jawbone
Bike shoes: Northwave Tribute (custom for mtb by Northwave)
Gloves: Troy Lee Design XC
Grips: ESI Grips (custom Belgian flag)
Racing suit: Skinfit Plasma
Wetsuit: Sailfish G-Range
Helmet: Giro AtmosTweet