Catch up with the Global Tour and Preview Milwaukee
Professional and amateur athletes representing 35 states and eight countries converge on Milwaukee's Lakefront to challenge Mother Nature, Lake Michigan, and the magnificent Milwaukee County Park System at the second annual Nissan Xterra Midwest Championship on Sunday.
In this edition we'll preview the pro race, look at the schedule of events for August (the last month of regular season racing in the Nissan Xterra USA Championship), get the play-by-play from Spain from Kahuna Dave as he details how Renata Bucher won her fourth straight in Europe and the younger Llanos brother prevailed, see results from Brazil where the reigning XTERRA World Champion Nicolas Lebrun and former World Champ Candy Angle are victorious, and check out this weekends XTERRA TV schedule.
PRO PREVIEW: On August 6 in Milwaukee some of the worlds best triathletes, mountain bikers, trail runners, and adventure racers will collide in the consummate individual challenge for outdoor athletes.
NISSAN XTERRA MIDWEST CHAMPIONSHIP
MEN'S FAVORITES: The Caveman is Back! After sitting out the first race of the season with injuries, Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz returned for race No. 2 and finished 4th in Alabama despite not being in top form and a week later won the East Championship in Richmond. If he's healthy he's hard to stop, but Stoltz is still chasing the current Points leader Brent McMahon. The Canadian Olympic triathlete won the first XTERRA championship of the season in California on May 21 in dominating fashion, followed that with another win in Alabama and fell to second behind Stoltz in Richmond. The 25-year-old is the fastest swimmer in the sport; consistently in the top five off the bike, and runs like the wind - thus, the ultimate threat. Seth Wealing has become America's best chance at victory. Wealing recently retired from World Cup racing to turn his focus off-road. Wealing is always at the front of the pack during the swim and has the legs to go fast on the bike and run as well. It would not be surprising to see him finish on top of the pack this season. In this particular race watch out for Mexico's Francisco Serrano. He was second here last year and held the lead through a good portion of the run before getting chased down by Stoltz. He races well in the heat, and just won the inaugural XTERRA Mexico Championship. A very fit looking, 40-year-young XTERRA vet Andrew Noble made a splash in the opener with a 5th place finish, and got better from there with a 3rd in Alabama and a fourth in Richmond. He's sitting in 3rd for the Series. Canadian Mike Vine - who won the XTERRA Mountain Championship last year and was second only to Stoltz in the US Pro Series standings, was slowed by injuries in Temecula and Alabama but should be much faster and in contention for the overall in Milwaukee. You can also count on strong showings from Americans Dominic Gillen and Justin Thomas, and mountain bike specialist Brian Smith.
Pro Men Start List: USA - Jimmy Archer, Brian Astell, Michael Boehmer, Jamie Cleveland, Ryan DeCook, Craig Evans, Adam Feltz, Dominic Gillen, Brian Hughes, Ryan Ignatz, Jason Jablonski, Tyler Johnson, Will Kelsay, John Koenig, Amon Pease, Brian Smith, Justin Thomas, Jim Vance, Seth Wealing. AUSTRALIA - Andrew Noble. CANADA - Brent McMahon, Mike Vine. MEXICO - Francisco Serrano. SOUTH AFRICA - Conrad Stoltz.
WOMEN FAVORITES: Jamie Whitmore won here last year...by 24 seconds over Melanie McQuaid. In that race McQuaid took a costly wrong turn on the run that cost her time and the title, as Whitmore chased her down during the last stretch of sand before the finish. McQuaid will come to this one on a mission to even the Pro series points standings as a victory would put her back in a tie for the top spot. Whitmore picked up her 30th career XTERRA victory (all-time record holder for wins) at Mexico in June. Whitmore and McQuaid are so closely matched that any little slip could make the difference and it certainly makes for exciting race day drama. Candy Angle, the 2002 XTERRA World Champion, finished 3rd in Temecula, Alabama, and Richmond, just won in Brazil and is always in position to take advantage of mistakes. Melissa Thomas, a perennial podium performer, can be counted on to have a solid race and end up in the top five somewhere. Danelle Kabush has used a strong run in the last couple races to position herself 4th in the Pro Series. Jennifer Smith, a mountain bike specialist like her husband, is back and a threat.
Pro Women Start List: USA - Candy Angle, Aracelly Clouse, Linda Gabor, Amber Monforte, Nicole Newton, Jennifer Perez, Janae Pritchett, Shae Rainer, Melissa Thomas, Jen Tobin, Jamie Whitmore. CANADA - Danelle Kabush, Melanie McQuaid. NEW ZEALAND - Jennifer Smith. SOUTH AFRICA - Ingrid Rolles.
MILWAUKEE PRESS GUIDE: Download a pdf version of the Nissan Xterra Midwest Championship at http://www.xterraplanet.com/news/press_media.cfm.
XTERRA SPAIN: Dave Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA Global Tour, brings us this report: Llanos wins … but it's the other one!!
It would be no news if Eneko Llanos won another XTERRA event. But it is news when his brother and Ironman specialist Hecktor wins. The Basque Brothers had to be favored in this race very near their hometown, but German/Portuguese pro Nico Pfitzenmaier put a big scare into their plans.
The day started with all competitors open jawed as they faced 6-10 foot waves off the Bakio surf beach. All week the ocean had been flat, but on this morning as the tide went out, beautiful right hand curls of 4' at the shore break and up to 10' on the outside made things nervous. As expected, everyone got pounded but all made it to the first buoy situated outside the breaks. Eneko, Hecktor and German Sasha Wingenfeld along with Bernat Moragas all came out of the water in just over 16 minutes. A quick transition, a short burst through some local shops and then a grueling 50-stair climb is how you start XTERRA Spain in Euskadi. Nico came into T1 two minutes after the leaders but quickly overcame their advantage to lead the first lap handily. But wait! That wasn't Eneko shadowing the Pfitzy - it was Hecktor Llanos. Eneko came by not far behind the leaders and was favoring his right hand. Turns out the two-time World Champ had hit hard against a stone wall and cut it badly.
For the women, Spanish pro Nerea Martinez led Austrian Carina Wasle out of the water. Renata Bucher was just over 2 minutes behind this pair, but the queen of XTERRA Europe was not about to have anybody upset her perfect winning record today. She set out quickly on the very first climbs and secured her lead early to win the women's prize and take 11th overall. Carina raced well for her second second place in a row. Injured early in the season, last years Champion of Germany is getting healthy and we expect her to give Renata a good run in a few weeks in Denmark.
A huge thunderstorm had shaken up not just Bakio, but all of northern Spain and much of southern France, knocking down trees and even shutting down some airports. What had been a well-organized progression of marking the bike and run trails now turned into a "fix everything as quick as we can". Part of the run was in a deep, walled stream that takes water from the mountains to the ocean.
The neat part is that the tides in this part of the world are about 4 feet. Part of the day, the run course is under water, but the run is scheduled to happen at low tide when the basin is dry and it becomes a 1K trail. Err, except for that huge storm leaving water continually streaming in from the Euskadi hills. A local construction company donated a bunch of palettes and 2-meter wood forms and a crew waited patiently until after the race started and the water receded to make a snaking path through the mud and water. But hey, this is XTERRA and we heard not one word of complaint.
Back to the men's race: Nico came off the bike with a minute lead over Hecktor and another over Eneko. After transition, everyone was waiting for the very fast Llanos brothers to simply run past Pfitzenmaier, but to our surprise, Nico still led after the first lap of this very unusual run. But the local boys were not to be denied on their home course and were waiting for the right time to pounce. About half way through the last lap Nico was relegated to 3rd place to finish just 1 minute from the lead and 20 seconds behind Eneko.
So the second XTERRA Euskadi Spain Championship is in the books. The Basque country, or as it is called locally, Euskadi, is simply beautiful. The capitol city of Bilbao has easy air service to almost anywhere and has some spectacular architecture. The countryside is hilly and green. The food is not what you would expect - it's far better. You've never eaten a tortilla until you've had one in Euskadi.
The bike course is quite technical with some very fun downhills, lots of climbs and fantastic scenery high above the coastline. The run takes you smack down the middle of the area's most popular beach with literally several thousand people surrounding the course.
A fantastic part of the world and just another great excuse to experience the world through the eyes of XTERRA. . . there are thousands out there just like you. Live More.
XTERRA BRAZIL: Nicolas Lebrun, the reigning XTERRA World Champ, weathered stormy conditions in his first trip to Brazil to take home the title in 2:32:50, nearly three minutes ahead of Oscar Galindez. Lebrun overcame a 10-minute deficit on the swim to take the lead on the bike and held on during the run.
On the women's side Candy Angle won her first championship since winning the XTERRA World Title back in 2002. She led from start to finish with a time of 3:05:44, well ahead of runner-up Christina de Carvalho (3:25:48).
Nearly 1,000 athletes participated in this second-year event.