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Americans Josiah Middaugh & Shonny Vanlandingham win XTERRA South Central Cup in Heart of Arkansas
North Little Rock, AR - For the first time in 2009 a pair of Americans took the top honors at an XTERRA Cup Championship race as Josiah Middaugh from Vail, Colorado and Shonny Vanlandingham from Durango, Colorado won the men's and women's pro titles on a sweltering hot day at the XTERRA South Central Cup in the Heart of Arkansas.
It's the first win for Middaugh since his XTERRA East title last year, and the first for Vanlandingham since her 2008 Southeast Championship in Alabama. Middaugh and Vanlandingham were the top Americans in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series last year, and after six-of-eight races in the Cup Series are in the same spot this year - with both sitting in second place behind Conrad Stoltz and Melanie McQuaid, respectively.
The win by Vanlandingham, the most successful mountain biker in NORBA history with 15 national race wins and three Series titles, marks her second XTERRA Championship victory and also snaps McQuaid's five-race win streak. It's the fourth career XTERRA championship crown for Middaugh (who also won the Mountain title and XTERRA Canada championship in 2004).
The managing director of the XTERRA World Tour "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas was at Burns Park in North Little Rock where all the action took place and brings us this story...
It wasn’t easy, but Josiah Middaugh and Shonny Vanlandingham were victorious in very hot Arkansas today. The race started with a pro wave on a one-lap 1500 meter swim in warm – some said hot – water. The swim fractured early with Craig Evans and Christine Jeffrey leading the pack. Somehow Seth Wealing and Dan Hugo got dropped by the leaders early and this helped Middaugh and Nico Lebrun who were able to stay within a reasonable distance. Mike Vine was totally bonked by the hot water and had a miserable start to the race, as did Brian Smith.
Evans was riding his kind of course and while Hugo caught Josiah, they did not see the Tennessee coach until after the first lap.
“We started lapping people about 200 meters into the second lap and while this course is fun single track, it was tough to pass” lamented Hugo.
Halfway through the second lap Hugo was all over Middaughs’ rear wheel while Evans was solid in third with Lebrun coming up fast. On the women’s side Jeffrey was also smoking fast and it took McQuaid a full lap to catch her. Bad luck for the tall Jeffrey ensued, however, as she broke a chain and fell way back. This put Shonny Vanlandingham up into second with Jen Smith riding beautifully in third.
Hugo and Middaugh were literally a couple feet apart coming into T2. Lebrun had passed Evans into 3rd and was only a minute or so behind the leaders.
“Dan and I were pacing ourselves because of the heat when I heard the announcer say that Lebrun was in transition” said Middaugh. “I had some reserve in hand and figured I would spend what I had right there so Nico would never see me. When that guy sees you it’s like he gets into another gear.”
Hugo heard it as well and simply figured “I’m toast”.
Melanie had a good lead at T2 but was feeling ill from some bad food on Friday. Shonny is a native Texan and grew up in the heat and was looking OK, but she’s a poker player and is one you cannot tell much from by looking at her. Sure enough, Mel began to fade and what was a 50-second lead going out on the run turned into a 30-second deficit to Vanlandingham about a mile out from the finish.
The men figured correctly as Nico was coming. “It was so hot I kept going at a training pace.. .everybody was slow today because of the heat” said the Frenchman. His training pace was good enough to get past Hugo and he got within 25-seconds of Josiah but began feeling the heat. “When your mind starts going crazy, it’s time to slow down” laughed Nico. “I could see Josiah, but I had nothing for him.”
Middaugh was able to actually stretch the lead in the last nasty mile known as “the quarry”. Nico was a solid second, Hugo a lonely third, and Mike Vine – hurt by the swim and slowed with a flat on the bike - had the energy on the run to take him into 4th place.
Shonny came home with her first win of the year at the hometown track of her bike sponsor Orbea. Melanie kept it together for second but required a bunch of treatment at the finish. Jen Smith a wonderful third, Rebecca Dussault a career-best 4th and the resilient “nothing can stop me” Jeffrey back up into 5th.
This site is a winner. Lots of places to stay and Little Rock has entertainment galore, great BBQ places, country places, jazz and blues clubs and the very nice Riverfront Walk and Market. The bike course is a bundle of nice single track with some open spots, and the run is tough but goes up and over some high bluffs and cliffs with fantastic views of downtown, the river, and all the way back to the compound.
TOP PRO MEN
TOP PRO WOMEN
XTERRA CUP SERIES STANDINGS
The top five men remain the same although Middaugh moves past Hugo into 2nd and Nico Lebrun jumps past Mike Vine into 4th. In the women's standings Jenny Smith moves up one to 3rd, and Christine Jeffrey jumps three from seventh to fourth. Pros count their best five scores in the eight races plus their points at the XTERRA USA Championship to determine final standings.
AMATEUR RACE: Omar Fraser of Birmingham, Alabama and Jocelyn Wood of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma won the amateur overall titles in 2:27:19 and 2:51:10, respectively. A complete list of age group champions and Maui qualifiers will be released in this week's XTERRA News.
Next up: XTERRA Northeast Cup on July 12 at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont.
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