LEBRUN, McQUAID WIN XTERRA WORLD TITLES
Each earn $25,000 at the 10th Annual Nissan Xterra World Championship
MAUI PRINCE HOTEL (MAKENA, MAUI) - Overcast but warm conditions and a welcoming rainbow that touched down on the Pacific Ocean greeted 500 athletes at the sandy start line to the Nissan Xterra World Championship at the Maui Prince Hotel in Makena today. Nicolas LeBrun of France and Melanie McQuaid of Canada found the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, capping a magical day for both as they won their respective pro divisions.
The fifth time's a charm for LeBrun, who had the best bike of the day (1:29:13) in a field full of great mountain bikers. "He crushed the bike!" is how it was best described. LeBrun came out of the water more than two minutes behind the leaders in 55th place but went out on the run in first place by more than a minute. He finished the grueling 27-mile off-road adventure in 2:38:19, three minutes and twenty seconds faster than runner-up Eneko Llanos of Spain.
"I had a good swim, not my best, but good," said LeBrun. "And I was able to start the bike with a good group, Josiah Middaugh, Nico Pfitzenmaier, and Robert Latschen and we go very fast together, but I did not feel very good at the start. It was because 'Pfitz' was very, very strong so I had a hard time to stay with him. After Heartbreak Hill (the first big climb on the bike) I could push more on the uphill and catch everybody and felt better and better."
Better and better until he eventually caught and passed everybody, including Josiah Middaugh, Greg Krause, Francisco Serrano, Conrad Stoltz, Brent McMahon, Olivier Marceau, Eneko Llanos, and finally Mike Vine.
"When Nico caught me I could tell he had some horsepower today," said Vine, who finished in 4th place. "The last traverse he put a minute on me and my chain jammed and I had to get off the bike but even if I didn't have that problem I think he still would've gapped me. When I got to T2 1:25 back I knew I was running for second place."
LeBrun's strength is his run, and with the elusive world title (he finished 2nd here in 2003 and 3rd in 2002) waiting at the finish line motivation wasn't an issue.
"When you know you might win this race it's not about your legs, it's about your head, and your heartbeat," said LeBrun, who might've broken his arm just a half-mile from the finish after taking a nasty tumble on lava rock (X-rays are tomorrow).
For the first time in a few years, two-time XTERRA World Champ Eneko Llanos had some bad luck.
"You never know what's going to happen here. A flat tire, a broken chain, a crash.that's the magic of Maui," said Llanos. "I hit a rock and had a flat before halfway on the bike. I fixed it with air because I have the liquid inside of the tires, but I didn't want to put another tube inside because I was going to lose a lot of time. But the tire was losing so much air I had to stop four or five times to refill and put more air and it made the downhill very dangerous."
First-year XTERRA pro Brent McMahon made a splash in his Maui debut by coming out of the water first in 19:42 and posting the fastest run, reeling in Pfitzenmaier, Marceau, and Vine and getting on the heels of Llanos before settling in for third place overall. McMahon's 10k split was 44:01 (8:18 per mile), so you can tell it's not your average run. There was roughly 1,500 feet of climbing and descending involved.
Australian Chris Legh turned in his best ever XTERRA thanks to the second fastest run of the day. He came into transition somewhere around 8th place with nearly a dozen other guys before turning on the jets.
McQuaid Makes History
In the first nine years of the XTERRA World Championship there were nine different women's winners. In year 10, Melanie McQuaid won her second.
"This is the best race I've ever had," said McQuaid, who was also victorious in 2003. "I knew it was going to happen today. I knew it yesterday, I knew it last week. I knew I had the form and the only thing that was going to stop me was a mechanical."
But there were no mechanicals, just Melanie McQuaid in perfect form. She was the fourth female pro out of the water, had the second-fastest bike and the sixth best run, just enough to cross the finish line first and in one piece.
Early on, however, it looked like the string of new champs might continue as Sibylle Matter came out of the water first by a minute and held off all challengers on the bike until McQuaid caught up about halfway through the 20-mile course. Out on the run Matter impressed again, posting the fastest run among women in 51:53. McQuaid's winning time of 3:07:16 was less than a minute faster than Matter's 3:08:00.
"I had a very good swim and on the bike I just kept my rhythm," said Matter, who won at XTERRA Spain last month. "Melanie went by me like a rocket but I never knew where the others were."
The others, like last year's champ Jamie Whitmore, were well behind and never did catch up. Whitmore settled into the third spot on the bike and held off a pair of great runners, Renata Bucher and Jenny Tobin, to finish there. It's her fourth straight year in the top 3 (was 2nd in 2002 and 2003).
"Gave all that I had and it wasn't enough," said Whitmore.
Bucher, who was happy to just survive the swim (she was the 33rd woman a full six minutes behind) capped a great rookie season that included wins at XTERRA Saipan, Czech, and Austria. She needed a strong sprint to the finish to hold off XTERRA veteran Jenny Tobin, who fell just three seconds shy of catching Bucher for fourth place. It's the third time Tobin has come in 5th (also in 2003 and 2000).
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES DOUBLE: Canada's Peter Reid, who finished third at the Ironman Hawaii Championship last week, placed 14th overall today and won his sixth Hawaiian Airlines "Double" Award in seven years (including the last four). His combined time was 11:10:09 (8:20:04 in Kona and 2:50:05 in Maui). Aussie star Kate Major won the women's double, and it was her first-ever XTERRA. Like Reid, Major finished third at Ironman. Her combined times equaled 12:51:01 (9:12:39 in Kona and 3:38:22 in Maui). Hawaiian Airlines awarded $2,500 cash to both.
NOTES: Watch this race like it was happening live when in airs on CBS Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, 2006 at 12 noon EST.
Wendy Minor became the "oldest" woman to do the Hawaiian Airlines Double, finishing Ironman in 13:50:17 and XTERRA today in 5:06:43 for a combined 18:57:00.
Bobby McMullen, 42, became the first sight-impaired athlete to compete in the XTERRA World Championship. Led by guide Mark Shaw, McMullen finished unscathed in 7 hours and 45 minutes and got the loudest applause at the awards dinner.
A maxed-out field of 512 athletes were registered for the race, 479 started and 466 finished. Among the DNF's were Dominic Gillen, Candy Angle, and Hektor Llanos - all victims of crashes and mechanicals.
Another previously retired XTERRA star, Pat Brown, un-retired to race with his dad, G.L. Brown, and both had great races (Pat was 29th overall and GL 7th in the 60-64 division).
Shonny Vanlandingham, the women's U.S. National Mountain Bike Champ in the short course, had the fastest bike split and finished 7th overall in her first-ever XTERRA.
The race consisted of a 1.5-kilometer rough water swim at the Maui Prince Beach, a grueling 32-kilometer mountain bike ride up the slopes of Haleakala, and a 10-kilometer trail run.
2005 Nissan Xterra World Championship Race Results ($125,000 Purse)
TOP 15 PRO MEN
1 Nicolas LeBrun 32 Villeneuve-Loubet, France 2:38:19 $25,000
2 Eneko Llanos 28 Victoria-Gasteiz, Spain 2:41:41 $15,000
3 Brent McMahon 24 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:42:01 $8,000
4 Mike Vine 31 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:42:22 $5,000
5 Chris Legh 32 Melbourne, Australia 2:43:32 $3,000
6 Nico Pfitzenmaier 34 Besigheim, Germany 2:43:48 $1,750
7 Olivier Marceau 32 Cannes, France 2:45:29 $1,200
8 Ronnie Schildknecht 25 Thalwil, Switzerland 2:45:43 $1,000
9 Conrad Stoltz 32 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:46:23 $800
10 Josiah Middaugh 27 Vail, Colorado 2:47:33 $700
Also: Greg Krause ($600, 2:47:42), Jimmy Archer ($500, 2:49:32), Francisco Serrano ($400, 2:49:52), Peter Reid ($300, 2:50:05), Robert Latschen ($300, 2:51:18)
3 Jamie Whitmore 29 Elk Grove, California 3:13:51 $8,000
4 Renata Bucher 27 Lucerne, Switzerland 3:17:14 $5,000
5 Jenny Tobin 35 Boise, Idaho 3:17:17 $3,000
6 Danelle Kabush 30 Canmore, Alberta, Canada 3:19:45 $1,750
7 Shonny Vanlandingham 36 Durango, Colorado 3:20:01 $1,200
8 Monique Merrill 36 Breckenridge, Colorado 3:25:08 $1,000
9 Melissa Thomas 35 Boulder, Colorado 3:25:49 $800
10 Lisa Isom 33 Vail, Colorado 3:26:08 $700
Also: Sonia Foote (3:30:35), Ingrid Rolles (3:32:21), Mami Saito (3:33:45), Kate Major (3:38:22), Imke Schiersch (3:39:11)
Fastest swim: Brent McMahon (19:42), Sibylle Matter (20:47)
20 - 24 Scott Thorne 3:03:58 Hamilton East, New Zealand
25 - 29 Ryland Garnett 3:02:02 Seaford, Australia
30 - 34 Jason Jablonski 3:01:48 Wenatchee, Washington
35 - 39 Michael Nahom 3:03:28 New Milford, Connecticut
40 - 44 # Tom Lyons 3:08:21 Reno, Nevada
45 - 49 Casey Fannin 3:13:57 Birmingham, Alabama
50 - 54 Ian Davidson, Jr. 3:21:29 Clemson, South Carolina
55 - 59 Gary Mercer 3:59:56 Anderson, California
60 - 64 % Peter Wood 3:53:53 La Jolla, California
Challenged Athletes Division
% Two-time Nissan Xterra World Champion
# Four-time Nissan Xterra World Champion
Top Amateur Male
20 - 24 Marion Summerer 3:21:03 Freiburg, Germany
25 - 29 Louisa Davis 3:41:03 Wadestown, New Zealand
30 - 34 Laura Home 3:30:54 Santa Cruz, California
35 - 39 Beate Kleindienst 3:52:56 Dachau, Germany
40 - 44 Rita Haerteis 3:44:24 Penzberg, Germany
45 - 49 # Barbara Peterson 3:59:52 Berkeley, California
50 - 54 Cindi Toepel 4:12:16 Littleton, Colorado
55 - 59 Susan Swan 5:17:22 Coromandel, New Zealand
60+ $ Wendy Minor 5:06:43 Honolulu, Hawaii
# Four-time Nissan Xterra World Champion
$ Five-time Nissan Xterra World Champion
Top Amateur Female
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