For the first time in off-road racing history, the biggest events from the EMEA, Americas, and Asia-Pacific regions will come together to form an elite series of races that will award close to $350,000 to the best professional in the sport.
The 12-race series starts with the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Kenting, Taiwan and will culminates at the XTERRA World Championships in Trentino, Italy in September.
To determine the XTERRA Word Cup Series Champions, elites will be ranked based on their four best scores from the first six full distance events, plus their best three Short Track scores and whatever points they get at the XTERRA World Championships.
On Saturday, April 15, the very best XTERRA athletes will line up to begin their seasons in the Kenting National Park in Taiwan, with a star studded field set to start.
The best of the best
Both the men and women’s field will include the top five ranked athletes in the world, with 30 elites from 15 countries making their way out to East Asia.
World ranked #6, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN) was quick to praise the new level of competition this racing series will bring to XTERRA ahead of the action.
“This is how it should be. The best off-road triathletes in the world signed on for this, to travel to Taiwan and belt it out against each other, and we won’t see any surprise athletes coming from the road triathlon circuit anymore.
“We’ve pushed the level of competition to new heights over the last few years and these are the best athletes our sport has, and we’re ready to battle it out.”
The racing will begin at 6am on Saturday, April 15 in the South China Sea, before the athletes take on the heat, humidity and rugged terrain of the national park on the bike and the run. Full coverage of the event can be found here.
In the men’s race, defending XTERRA World Champion Arthur Serrieres will be hoping to start the season where he left off, but will face a strong contingent of competitors, including brothers Arthur Forissier and Felix Forissier.
This trio, along with Maxim Chane, make up a French quartet who have been dubbed the “Fab Four” and from which many have speculated the eventual winner of the race will come from.
Within the group, each athlete believes they have what it takes to win, but also acknowledged each others talents, with the youngest of the Forissier brothers, Felix, convinced his older brother is the firm favourite following a great winter of training.
“I think my older brother, Arthur (Forissier), should be considered the favourite. I’ve seen him all winter and he’s really strong. He was strong at XTERRA Worlds last year when he finished second behind Serrieres, and he will be even stronger here.”
In addition to the four Frenchmen, another European, Spaniard Ruben Ruzafa, will be in the hunt for the podium in Taiwan. Ruzafa, a seven time world champion, shared his excitement pre-race, adding that the event in Taiwan has motivated him to start training earlier in the season than ever before.
“This is the most excited I’ve ever been for an April race. I’ve never trained so much this early in the season and I’m motivated to win the World Cup. It’s something new, and I never won the World Cup in mountain biking, so I really want to win the first one with XTERRA.”
Elite Men’s Start List – XTERRA World Ranking
#1 – Arthur Serrieres (FRA)
#2 – Ruben Ruzafa (ESP)
#3 – Arthur Forissier (FRA)
#4 – Felix Forissier (FRA)
#5 – Sebastien Carabin (BEL)
#6 – Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DEN)
#7 – Maxim Chane (FRA)
#8 – Lukas Kocar (CZE)
#15 – Xavier Dafflon (SUI)
#19 – Kieran McPherson (NZL)
#24 – Michele Bonacina (ITA)
#38 – Dominik Wychera (AUT)
#62 – Andres Carnevali del Castillo (ESP)
#85 – Paris Fellman (LUX)
#119 – Taylor Charlton (AUS)
NR – Yen Ching Chiang (TWN)
NR – Kohei Yamamoto (JPN)
In the women’s race, it is another French XTERRA World Champion who will head into the event as the favourite, as Solenne Billouin looks to prove that her world title winning race was no fluke.
“Being the world champion is a title you have forever and it’s very significant, it’s the most important title you can have in XTERRA, but I can get better. The World Cup is longer with more important races and you need to be consistent throughout the year so I thought it was important to enjoy the winter to keep my energy and motivation for the season high.
“I enjoyed time with my family, friends, traveling, and racing cyclocross. Now I feel good, I arrived 10 days ago, and I love the course because it’s super challenging. It’s the kind of race you have to stay focused and do your thing.”
Billouin, however, will have her work cut out in Taiwan, as Italian Sandra Mairhofer, who comes into the race as the #1 ranked athlete, looks to prove she has earned the top spot.
The Italian, who won the individual and mixed relay titles at the recent World Triathlon Winter Championships in Skeikampen, will swap skiis for sunglasses in Taiwan as she takes on a slightly different climate to the one she faced in Norway three weeks ago.
Elite Women’s Start List – XTERRA World Ranking
#1 – Sandra Mairhofer (ITA)
#2 – Solenne Billouin (FRA)
#3 – Loanne Duvoisin (SUI)
#4 – Alizee Paties (FRA)
#5 – Marta Menditto (ITA)
#13 – Carina Wasle (AUT)
#15 – Suzie Snyder (USA)
#19 – Maeve Kennedy (AUS)
#21 – Lizzie Orchard (NZL)
#28 – Georgia Grobler (RSA)
#46 – Kate Bramley (AUS)
NR – Jessie Koltz (USA)
NR – Johandri Leicester (RSA)
NR – Chi Wen Chang (TWN)