What a spectacular event. A super technical mountainbike course, World’s best off-road triathletes racing, the final XTERRA race of Conrad “The Caveman” Stoltz, all in a special location: Vachery Estate, near London, England, UK. A race worth to be called: The European XTERRA Championships.
As much as I loved racing this event, I would have loved to watch this race from the sidelines. Conrad Stoltz, the man who made this sport to what it s right now, raced his final XTERRA. And how! Nobody came even close to Ruben Ruzafa in the last two years. Ruben is simply unbeatable. But here they were, running stride by stride.
Conrad could match his pace for most of the race. Only because he lost some valuable time when his shoe got stuck in the mud, Ruben got a small lead. A few seconds that were just enough to beat Conrad at the finish line. Spectacular racing. Promotion for our wonderful sport. Something Conrad has done all his career. With just being himself and racing, he does so much more. For everybody.
Earlier this year I raced XTERRA South Africa. My race didn’t go according to plan and I only finished 12th. But the day after, Conrad gave me his time and some experiences I will never forget. You can see some of it in this video:
After some adventures to get to the UK (we slept a night in our car at the airport in Olbia + we again succeeded in our plan not to pay extra for our bikes with the flight company) we found a course we’ve never done before in XTERRA.
For me, the muddy and slippery conditions were quiet similar to what we have in Belgium in some mountainbike and cyclocross races, but for Elisebetta this was all new.
Being from Sardegna she sees mountainbiking as what it actually is: biking in the mountains. But in places where you have no mountains, the sport called mountainbiking exists, but in a different form.
So for an XTERRA in England, it means: flat, twisty, muddy. Elisabetta struggled a lot while we were checking the bike course the days before the race. I tried to convince her that this was a normal feeling. That everybody struggles in the mud. But she never really believed me until the race.
She had a good swim and was riding with some of the best skilled women in our sport. And she could keep up with them. She saw that they made mistakes as well. At some parts she was even better. At the end Elisabetta finished 7th. Considering everything, this is an amazing result and we are both very happy with her development as an off-road triathlete.
I came to the European Championships with a plan:
-4 weeks before the World Championships I wanted to test my fitness against the best in our sport.
Check, I felt really fit and powerful. My swim and run were the best of the year.
-I wanted to run fast as a proof that I’m not affected by the energy problems I was suffering from earlier this year.
Check, I posted the 2nd best running split
-I wanted to finish in the top 10.
Check, finished 8th.
The last 2 months I’ve made huge improvements and I’m very confident for the World Championships at the end of this months. I had three good races from start to finish. Three high level races. But if I want to be in the top 10 at the World Championships I need to come off the bike much closer to the leaders than what I’m doing now. That’s why I can’t be happy about my result in England. I started running in 8th position, ran crazy fast, and finished 8th. That’s not really good. There is no point in running fast and catching nobody. But I executed my race plan perfectly and learned some valuable lessons for the Worlds.
I played it too safe on the bike in England. And lost too much time. I should have ridden 2 minutes faster and run 30 seconds slower because of the extra fatigue. That would have been a perfect race. But let’s keep that perfect race for when it really matters: the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships, 26th of September, Orosei, Sardegna.
Bike: Scott Spark 900SL
Fork: 88+ tuned Lefty
Seat: Cobb Cycling HC170
Wheel set: Notubes ZTR Valor
Shades: Oakley Radar Lock
Grips: ESI Grips Racer’s Edge
Helmet: Lazer Z1
Running shoes: WatermolenSport
Lube: Squirt dry lube
Wetsuit: Sailfish G-Range