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A look at the XTERRA USA Championship and European Tour Wrap-up
THIS WEEK: Nicolas Lebrun celebrates his second straight XTERRA European Tour Championship title and the XTERRA UK Championship crown he won on Sunday. On the women’s side Julie Dibens won the race and Eszter Erdelyi won the Euro Tour title. “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas brings us a recap of the race and reflects on the season overseas.
Plus, a look at the strong pro field headed to Nevada for the XTERRA USA Championship on Sept. 30, a quick description of the course they’ll face, a preview to the GU Cruise for a Cause that goes along the Flume Trail, the National Championship trail run and XTERRA Nevada off-road tri, as well as this weekend’s TV schedule.
9/29 – XTERRA Nevada (Incline Village, NV)
9/29 - XTERRA National Trail Running Championships (Incline Village, NV)
9/30 – XTERRA USA Championship (Incline Village, NV)
XTERRA UK REVIEW: By the managing director of the XTERRA Global Tour, “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas…
Lebrun and Dibens win the race; Lebrun and Erdelyi the Tour: A fantastic end to an unusual European XTERRA season. The year started with a fantastic new race site in Sardinia in late May but then the European weather Gods were not cooperating. Denmark, Austria and Germany had race days that were without rain, but the days leading up to them were overcast and wet. The whole of Europe had a dismal summer, but for XTERRA, everything came right at the end. Oddly enough, the land of rain – Great Britain and in particular Wales – became the land of sun and warmth.
Enough weather history. A new compound location in the village of Resolven worked really well. The Resolven Rugby Club offered up two pitch’s that easily housed T2, the finish, the compound and 60 great campsites, with room to spare.
On race morning swimmers traversed the perimeter of the lake, a distance of about 1200m. Gary Dressel, a 35-39 age grouper, won the swim just a few feet ahead of Yank and USA Champ Seth Wealing. The amazing Julie Dibens was 3rd out of the water and nearly 3 minutes ahead of the second woman; Hungarian Eszter Erdelyi.
Dibens simply disappeared after that. She hosted and taught a camp here a month ago and was very familiar with every stone and rut on the new 29K bike course. Michelle Lombardi (South Africa) did not have a good swim, but made up gobs of time on Erdelyi and came out of T2 in front; but only by a few meters. When she passed me, Michelle looked over and said “she’s going to kill me on the run”. I had no idea what she meant until Eszter came by a few seconds later. At this point in time no woman can run with the Hungarian and Lombardi knew it.
In the men’s race, Wealing and the other pro’s quickly passed Dressel and headed out to the Welsh mountains for a truly great bike course. Wales is rich in hills and valleys and is a mountain bike paradise. Wealing got his directions mixed up and took a wrong turn at an intersection. Young German Felix Schumann was just behind and yelled to Wealing to turn around, but the American headed in the wrong direction and lost a lot of time he never made up. Nico Lebrun was coming up through the pack, but it was points leader Ronny Dietz of Germany who led Schumann 45 seconds ahead of South Africa’s Lieuwe Boonstra and Belgium’s Jim Thijs. Lebrun had positioned himself well only a few seconds back of 4th knowing the run in Wales might be the toughest one in Europe.
The run proved Dietz’ undoing this day and he dropped over 3 minutes to Lebrun. Schumann and Boonstra had great runs to pass Ronny, but the spectre of Nico looming behind them caused concern. Boonstra was the first to get passed and soon the young German could hear Nico’s footsteps. Instead of focusing ahead, Felix turned to see where Nico was and the Frenchman pounced. Felix and Nico stayed step for step to the end. “Felix was the stronger today, but he is young and kept looking for me” Nico said; “He will learn and win many races soon”. Nico won by a scant 9 seconds!
Eszter Erdelyi’s mission was to come here and win a Championship and that is exactly what she did. Her second place in Wales put her on top of Sibylle Matter and Carina Wasle in points to become the 2008 Champion. Eszter, like Felix, is young and looking forward to next season. Somehow she feels she isn’t strong enough. I’m not sure I agree with her, and if she gets any stronger, look out ladies.
And speaking of strong, a healthy Julie Dibens is headed for Hawaii and this will produce perhaps the best women’s field in history. We all know Melanie and Jamie, but coming back will be Sibylle Matter (Swiss), a more experienced and fit Carina Wasle (Austria), a strong mountain biker Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer (Australia/Austria) and now Ms. Dibens. With Julie, Sibylle and Candy Angle’s speed in the water, Maui will be great to follow as McQuaid, Whitmore, Wasle, Jenny Smith and Baylis-Scheiderbauer all chase the lead.
For the XTERRA European Tour, Nico’s second win of the year put him ahead of Dietz for the men’s XTERRA Championship. “The Kid” Schumann put himself in third, Belgium Jim Thijs finished 4th in just his second year and Liewe Boonstra had a great year to place in the top 5.
For Maui the men’s field is every bit as impressive as the women’s with even greater unknown’s. There will be a French invasion with German winner Franky Batelier and 2006 XTERRA France winner Cedric Fleurton coming to backup the always dangerous Lebrun. Swiss Olivier Marceau will be back to avenge last year’s almost win and Dietz, Schumann and Pfitzenmaier will represent Germany well. Spain’s Eneko and Hecktor Llanos must not be forgotten and names like Lieuwe Boonstra, Jim Thijs, Czech Jan Kubicek and a returning David “Vito” Henestrosa could surprise.
Everybody wonders about Conrad. We don’t, but the Caveman would have his hands full with Canada’s Mike Vine and Americans Seth Wealing, Josiah Middaugh, Greg Krause and Brian Smith much less with a dozen Europeans. This field is as strong as any race anywhere in the world.
So one final national championship in the U.S. on Sept. 30, then everything leads to Maui. A great season of racing that started in Argentina, with South Africa, New Zealand, Saipan, Brazil, Japan and Costa Rica joining a great European Tour (Italy, Denmark, Austria, Germany, UK) in between - all comes down to October 28 in Maui.
I think you need to be there.
Men's Top 10 at XTERRA UK (Sept. 16/Neath Valley, Wales)
1. Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) 2:15:28
Women's Top 5
1. Julie Dibens (GBR) 2:38:19
XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR FINAL STANDINGS: Nicolas Lebrun is once again the King of XTERRA in Europe after capturing his second straight XTERRA Euro Tour title on Saturday. Lebrun, the 2005 XTERRA World Champion, won XTERRA Austria and England, and placed third at XTERRA Italy and Germany for a total of 364 points. Ronnie Dietz from Germany, the Tour runner-up with 315 points, was consistently good all year long with a win in Denmark, a third in Austria, and a 4th place finish in England. In previous years, Lebrun was runner-up in the Tour to Olivier Marceau in 2004 and 2005, and finished third in 2003 despite winning XTERRA Czech and Germany that year.
On the women’s side Eszter Erdelyi from Hungary won the first two races of the season in Italy and Denmark, placed third in Germany and second in England for 372 points and her first XTERRA European Tour championship. Renata Bucher had won the previous two tours and Jamie Whitmore won the first two in ’03 and ’04. Erdelyi, who ran track and field for Central Methodist University in Missouri, edged Sibylle Matters four-race total of 352 points to claim top honors.
The XTERRA European Tour’s top finishers shared 20,000 Euros ($28,000 U.S.) and the prize purse at each championship race was 15,000 Euros with the European Championship at XTERRA Italy awarding 25,000 Euros. Racers counted their best four scores out of the five events.
Visit www.xterraeurope.com for complete points standings.
XTERRA PROS IN TAHOE: 45 professionals - 31 men and 14 women - will line-up along the water's edge at the Hyatt Beach in Incline Village next Sunday. Among them are Olympians and some of the world's best swimmers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and triathletes. They have come to challenge Mother Nature, and each other, for the XTERRA USA Championship crown and the money ($110,000 purse) and fame (national TV and major exposure in industry magazines) that go with it. Below find them listed by race number, which is determined by their position in the 2007 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings, then alphabetically. Subject to change.
# - Name - Age, Hometown
1 - Conrad Stoltz - 33, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2 - Seth Wealing - 28, Boulder, Colorado
3 - Josiah Middaugh - 28, Vail, Colorado
4 - Mike Vine - 34, Victoria, B.C., Canada
5 - Andrew Noble - 41, Gold Coast, Australia
6 - Brian Smith - 31, Gunnison, Colorado
7 - Cody Waite - 28, Denver, Colorado
8 - Will Kelsay - 25, Boulder, Colorado
9 - Jimmy Archer - 34, Boulder, Colorado
10 - Tyler Johnson - 27, Chester, Connecticut
11 - Greg Krause - 30, Littleton, Colorado
12 - Ryan Ignatz - 28, Boulder, Colorado
14 - Luke Way - 25, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
15 - Ryan DeCook - 26, Rochester, Michigan
16 - Brian Astell - 26, Gualala, California
17 - Spencer Powlison - 24, Boulder, Colorado
18 – Matthew Balzer – 26, Arvada, Colorado
19 - Andrew Biglow - 36, Boulder, Colorado
20 - Lieuwe Boonstra – 31, Cape Town, South Africa
21 - Jordan Bryden – 20, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
22 - Mario De Elias – Neuquen, Argentina
23 - Lewis Elliott – Scottsdale, Arizona
24 - Lars Finanger – Boulder, Colorado
25 - Sam Gardner – 32, Surrey, Great Britain
26 - Jordan Jones – 26, Denver, Colorado
27 - John Koenig – 37, Glenview, Illinois
28 - Chris Legh – 34, Melbourne, Australia
29 - Nico Pfitzenmaier – 36, Besigheim, Germany
30 - Peter Reid – 37, Squamish, BC, Canada
31 - Bucky Shaefer – 25, Englewood, Colorado
32 - Jean-Paul Van der Linde, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
# - Women - Age, Hometown
61 - Jamie Whitmore - 31, Somerset, California
62 - Melanie McQuaid - 34, Victoria, B.C., Canada
63 - Jennifer Smith - 34, Westport, New Zealand
64 - Candy Angle - 37, Weymouth, Massachusetts
65 - Amber Monforte - 29, Reno, Nevada
66 - Dara Marks Marino - 31, Flagstaff, Arizona
67 - Kristy Lanier - 38, Marlinton, West Virginia
68 - Shonny Vanlandingham - 38, Durango, Colorado
69 - Shae Rainer – 27, Austin, Texas
70 - Sara Tarkington - 26, Boulder, Colorado
71 - Jari Kirkland - 31, Crested Butte, Colorado
72 - Erin Ford – 31, The Dalles, Oregon
73 - Kim Jennings – 27, Waco, Texas
74 - Emily vanMeter – 30, Alameda, California
THE COURSE: Nevada's spectacular natural environment and the majestic Sierra Nevada provide a world-class setting and challenge for the biggest race of the season. The national championship starts at the beach fronting the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe where competitors swim two laps of a 750-meter course in the spring-fed, crystal clear waters located 6,200 feet above sea level. A quarter-mile shuffle through the Hyatt to the swim-to-bike transition area at the Village Green follows the swim.
The second element is a 32-kilometer, single loop mountain bike course. Following a short, paved section past prime, lakefront real estate on Incline Village's Lakeshore Blvd., competitors reach the trails at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, where the race really begins. The first off-road section greeting riders is a 1,600-foot climb up Tunnel Creek Road to Tahoe's famed Flume Trail. The "Flume" is known for its exposed crossing of sheer rock faces and incredible sweeping vistas. Those focusing too much on the view may end up casualties of this 4.5-mile section of single track.
At the aspen-clad Marlette Lake, a second leg-burning climb on Hobart Road takes racers to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Halfway into the 6.6-mile section is the Marlette Lake Overlook at 8,700 feet above sea level (the highest point on the XTERRA course). From the top, a 2,500-foot descent to the second transition area resembles "Toad's Wild Ride" as it passes through a series of switchbacks and the waterless Twin Lakes.
The last leg of the race is a 10-kilometer forest trail run consisting of two 5-kilometer laps through some of nature's most arduous obstacles. While the run course remains relatively flat, there are numerous short, steep climbs and quick descents. Balancing along narrow log crossings, and skipping over boulders are just a few of the final tests of skill and endurance.
CRUISIN’ ON THE FLUME: The GU Cruise for a Cause at the USA Championship can hardly be considered a “Cruise” as it traverses one of the world’s greatest mountain biking trails – the legendary Flume Trail. As such, this event is for experience riders only and helmets are mandatory. 100% of the $25 entry fee will be given to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.
A 15-minute shuttle from race headquarters at Village Green will take riders and their bikes to the Spooner Lake day use area on the east side of Lake Tahoe. The ride begins with the only major climb of the afternoon – a little more than 1,000-feet from 7000' to 8157'.
At the summit, a short descent leads to Marlette Lake and a 1.5-mile stretch of dirt road along the Lake’s shoreline. On the other side of the lake is the famous Flume Trail – sitting high above the east shore of Lake Tahoe with spectacular views that stretch for miles. This 4.5-mile section is one of the planet’s greatest treasures. At the end of the Flume Trail is Tunnel Creek Road – a fun and speedy sandy fire road descent for 2.4 miles to Ponderosa Ranch Road (then to Lakeshore Blvd. and another mile back to Village Green).
The approx. 10-mile ride is set for Friday, September 28 @ 3pm. The shuttles depart promptly at 3pm so riders are asked to allow about 30-minutes to get self and equipment into the shuttle. To register visit xterraplanet.com or sign-up onsite at the Village Green next to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe from 1-2:30pm on Friday. Space is limited.
TAHOE TRAIL RUNNIN’: The XTERRA National Championship of Trail Running on Saturday, the 29th will be held on the same 10k course (two 5k loops) that the XTERRA USA Championship racers will be running on. It’s a twisting, turning, tree-lined adventure - the last of 30 qualifying races across the U.S. The 2007 XTERRA Trail Running Series was grouped in nine regions; Northern and Southern California, Utah, Tennessee, the Midwest, Northeast, St. Louis, Chicago and Georgia. Regional Champions from each Series were crowned and invited to compete in Nevada for the title of U.S. Champion, along with other leading runners from each region. This is for qualified runner’s only, but one-and-all can experience the same course in the open XTERRA Nevada 5k and 10k trail runs.
A very special prime is up for grabs for all the ladies in the race as Hawaiian Airlines is awarding roundtrip airfare to Hawaii for the amateur female with the fastest 10k time (runners in national champ race are also eligible for this award). Wahine holo nui! That’s Hawaiian Airlines way of saying, ‘run fast young lady!’
The top three competitors in each age group win awards and of course the true winners of the Trail Run are the local soccer stars - as proceeds from the race benefit the AYSO of Incline Village.
XTERRA NEVADA: While only qualified athletes can race for the championship on Sunday, one-and-all are eligible to compete in the XTERRA Nevada open competition on Saturday. The race is comprised of a 750-meter swim, 32-kilometer mountain bike, and 5k trail run. While the swim and run segments are half-the-distance of the championship course, the mountain bike leg is identical to that of the main event.
Participants can even create a two or three person relay - where one person does the swim, another the bike, and the other the run - and enter the XTERRA Nevada relay team competition. This is a great way to have fun with family and friends.
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