XTERRA’s Malta leg celebrates its sixth edition with a difference this weekend after having been postponed back in April. With perfect weather conditions and a vast number of athletes arriving for registration on Friday, the event which is unfortunately only the third leg of a tour which had most of its season cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, kicks off on Saturday.
Franchise owner Nathan Farrugia expects that with measures taken by XTERRA Malta ahead of the event, the safety of their athletes is set to be ensured.
“Obviously with our situation, we’re making sure to take all the measures for social distancing and sanitisation so that we don’t have any issues,” Farrugia told the Times of Malta.
“This has changed a little bit the shape of the race and there’s no afterparty so it sort of dampens the mood and the atmosphere. However, the course is looking excellent and the weather is perfect for us – We’ve got clear blue seas so we’re expecting to have some really high-profile athletes pushing hard to try and win the podium and the prize money.
“But we’ve also got quite a lot of Maltese people who are trying XTERRA for the first time which for us is really great because it introduces them to the sport.”
The Malta leg features seven-time world champion Ruben Ruzafa and holding European champion Arthur Serrieres in this weekend’s race among all the high-profile racers.
Asked about the effect of the mass cancellation of events across the season, Ruzafa admitted he has his doubts about his performance, especially because they’ve only had two races prior to this.
“Most of my preparation had to be during the covid-19 months when we had to be in our homes,” the Spaniard said.
“I tried to train well in summer and do my best but my motivation was not the same and we had less time to prepare. So I arrive to XTERRA Malta with doubts about my performance but I will be trying my best to stay with the head of the race.
“Maui (XTERRA Wold Championship) has been cancelled but we have XTERRA Greece in October so I hope to improve my performance and train well.”
French athlete Serierres, who won last week’s Czech Republic leg, echoed this but looks forward to the Malta track which he says is particularly difficult compared to others.
“The Malta track is very hard – there are so any rocks. I think it will be hard to stay concentrated and not get a puncture or break anything (from the bike),” Serierres said.
“That will be the most challenging part of the race I think, because some competitors will have trouble on the bike, I’m sure. It’s fast, with rocks and it will be tough.
“My goal for this year is to be better than last year but we had no season with coronavirus so I simply trained and this will be my third race. It’s not a lot and I think the shape is different because in other years, we had all season to build our shape and now we’re just racing, not knowing if the events are ok or if they will be cancelled.”
Farrugia had explained upon announcement of the event taking place back in July, that XTERRA Malta will be part of next season’s televised event. Asked about this year, he said that a dedicated film crew will be in Malta filming the event.
“Our film crew will be creating short snippets of action posted on our social media so people can follow on Facebook and obviously we’ll be also sharing all this globally ahead of next year,” Farrugia said.
For more information about XTERRA Malta visit: https://www.facebook.com/XTERRAMalta