(Prangins, Switzerland) - Three-time Olympian Olivier Marceau won the XTERRA Switzerland Championship for second straight year on Saturday, and earned his third XTERRA European Tour title (first since '05) in the process. In the women's race Marion Lorblanchet defended both her Swiss and Euro Tour titles, having won four of five championship events on this year's XTERRA European Tour.
XTERRA managing director "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas was on-hand to take in the Euro Tour finale and brings us this report..
Ronny Dietz came into the last race of the year with just two points separating him and Marceau in the XTERRA European Tour standings. It all boiled down to who would beat who – made no difference where. When I spoke with Dietz on Thursday he was just recovering from a bad bout of stomach virus and was not feeling well.
“I will be there but I am not sure how fast I can be” said the German pro. Somehow Marceau left his favorite running shoes in Germany and was expecting one of the men to bring them to Switzerland. At the last moment they could not make it and Marceau had to use an old backup pair of shoes. “I will be OK, I just need to make a big lead on the bike” said Marcea.
He did get that lead. The valiant Dietz came into T2 in second place just three minutes behind Marceau and only a few seconds ahead of a hard charging Nicolas Lebrun who put in the fastest bike split. “I am happy with my finish especially on a flat course” said climber Lebrun. When told he had the fastest bike time on a flat course, he smiled and did his best French shrug of the shoulders. Lebrun passed Dietz quickly and put in a solid run for second place. Karl Shaw, fresh off a great road tri season, joined his older brother Asa for the XTERRA final and came home third. He pushed Aussie swim specialist Ben Allen on the two lap swim and the two fought hard on the bike until Shaw found his legs to put one minute on Allen.
Allen had his best race since Italy and was 4th ahead of Belgium Jim Thijs. Poor Ronny Dietz was really courageous and not about to give up. He had a very tough run and soldiered on to 7th place. His reward was second overall for the Euro Tour.
For the women, the fight was much closer. After taking a year off to have her first child, Sibylle Matter, formerly known as Billy, and now known as Doctor, came to Prangins because she is Swiss and this is the Swiss Championship. “I have not been training much because I work and take care of the baby. My life is very different now,” said Matter. Perhaps that difference is a prescription for success. Always a great swimmer, Matter was just 45 seconds slower than Marion Lorblanchet into T1. Then the surprise – she rode to a one minute faster mountain bike. Matter passed the 3-time winner and much younger Frenchwoman and came into T2 in the lead. Sibylle’s husband, former pro Othman Bruegger, was jumping with joy. Ahhh, but the lead did not last long. In the first K of the run Lorblanchet asserted her championship form and ran away from the Swiss.
Behind this lead duo new Czech star Helena Erbanova was putting in the fastest bike split of the day and was a threat to the lead women as this girl can run. Lorblanchet (pictured) was having none of it and when she passed Matter she put her head down and ran away from them all. Erbanova kept getting closer to Matter and cut two minutes and 44 seconds off the Swiss but fell short by seven seconds. Yep, the difference between 2nd and 3rd was a scant seven seconds. Behind these battles, Carina Wasle was overheated and running dizzy in 4th, while Renata Bucher, who has some problems on her bike, finished just five seconds behind Wasle in a near photo finish for 4th and 5th.
The Swiss put in a neat obstacle near the end of last year’s race. Organizers placed two nearly 5’ high hay bales about 150m from the finish. It was hilarious watching the varied methods of getting over them. This year the organizers put one about 200m from the finish and then three more about 50m from the finish. The joy (if you were watching) and the pain (if you were finishing) was hearing the “oh NO’s” and what appeared to be curses in French and German and Italian as the very tired athletes found this surprise.
It was a great day of racing. The Sport race was won by Sibylle Matters husband Othmar and had over 200 entrants, the awards dinner was a magnificent risotto and roast beef with red and rose wine and gallons of Heineken. At recovery where else can you get croissants, big chunks of Swiss chocolate and a coke?
The age group battles were also very hard fought. The Tour idea has taken hold in Europe and many of the top points people were racing for the gold, silver and bronze medals. The only bad part of the weekend was the party bars ran out of Heineken about midnight. But the music continued and we all just walked over to the local beach bar about 100 feet away. What else would you do on a 70-degree, full moon evening on a beautiful lake in Switzerland with snow capped mountains in the distance?
Now on to Utah for the USA finals.
TOP 7 PRO MEN AND WOMEN AT XTERRA SWITZERLAND CHAMPIONSHIP
SEPT. 10, 2011 - PRANGINS
1. Olivier Marceau SUI 2:23.12,8
2. Nicolas Lebrun FRA 2:25.45,2
3. Karl Shaw GBR 2:26.35,2
4. Ben Allen AUS 2:27.50,8
5. Jim Thijs BEL 2:28.31,5
6. Marcel Zamora ESP 2:28.39,5
7. Ronny Dietz GER 2:30.41,6
1. Marion Lorblanchet FRA 2:44.37,9
2. Sibylle Matter SUI 2:48.30,7
3. Helena Erbenova CZE 2:48.37,8
4. Carina Wasle AUT 2:54.04,2
5. Renata Bucher SUI 2:54.09,8
6. Brigitta Poor HUN 3:00.08,9
7. Carla van Huyssteen RSA 3:00.42,o
Photo Credit: XTERRA