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Nico Lebrun and Shonny Vanlandingham win the XTERRA Mountain Cup in the Colorado Rockies
Beaver Creek Resort - Avon, Colorado - Nico Lebrun and Shonny Vanlandingham won the XTERRA Mountain Cup off-road triathlon in the Rockies at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado this afternoon.
It's the second win in seven days for Lebrun - who captured the XTERRA Northeast Cup in Vermont on Sunday - and moves him into 2nd behind Conrad Stoltz in the Cup Series standings heading into the finals - the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah on September 26.
The 2005 XTERRA World Champ from France had won three consecutive XTERRA European Tour championships from 2006-2008 before setting his sights on winning the XTERRA America Tour this year. It wasn't looking good for Lebrun after the first three races (he didn't finish at the West Cup and was fifth at the next two) but in his last five races he's won twice, placed 2nd twice, and was third in another to move within striking distance of Stoltz - a remarkable comeback.
In today's race Lebrun started slow, real slow, coming out of the swim nearly three minutes behind the lead pack that included Branden Rakita, Seth Wealing, road tri guys Joe McDaniel and Brad Zoller, and Olympic medalist Susan Williams.
What he lost in the swim Lebrun quickly made up on the bike (his 1:14:45 bike split was the best of the day, more than two minutes better than the second-best time put in by Cody Waite). After he passed Mike Vine and Rakita he rode alone into the bike-to-run transition where he had about a minute on the chase pack.
Before Lebrun caught up to the front on the bike he noticed Josiah Middaugh walking with his bike. Middaugh, who lives just a mile away from this course, had just caught Rakita (who was in the lead) on the bike at mile three when he hit a wooden sign post that exploded his pinkie (needed 9 stitches after the race) and sent him flying over the handle bars. The crash taco'd his front wheel, which he fixed best he could but the tire was rubbing the fork the rest of the way. Middaugh also lost his water bottle in the incident so didn't get the calories he needed for the rest of the day but amazingly still came off the bike in 4th and passed Rakita on the run to finish in 3rd.
Vine had a solid day all around to finish a little more than a minute behind Lebrun in 2nd. Cody Waite, who had the race of his career to this point, actually crossed the line in 2nd but had missed a short section of the run and was given a two-minute time penalty that put him in fourth. Of note, Olympian Tyler Butterfield from Bermuda had the fastest run split (37:22) and finished 7th in his XTERRA Championship race debut (he was 2nd at the Buffalo Creek points series race in his first-ever XTERRA).
For Vanlandingham - the most successful rider in NORBA mountain biking history - the victory caps a brilliant second half of the season that included two wins (she also won the Southeast Cup), a second and third. Vanlaningham won this race a year ago before it earned championship race status, but this time she did it against an incredible pro field that included Olympic bronze medalist Susan Williams, Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault, three-time XTERRA Europe champ Renata Bucher, two-time XTERRA Worlds runner-up Danelle Kabush, and a cast of others.
"I had a pretty good bike, caught Susan Williams about 1/2 way through and think I got into T2 with a four and half minute lead. Then, my run was just 36 seconds slower than Danelle's and considering how great a runner she is I'm real pleased with that. Great day for the team," said Vanlandingham.
Indeed it was a good day for the Luna Chix with Shonny V and Danelle Kabush finishing 1-2 and with the best bike and run splits.
"Beaver Creek is just a really great spot, for the racers and for the spectators because it's such a nice place to hang out and spend some time. It's beautiful," said Vanlandingham.
"Shonny V" was more than four minutes behind Williams coming out of the water but absolutely crushed the bike course, posting a 1:24:37 split that was five minutes better than Sara Tarkington's second-best time. Tarkington, meanwhile, had the best race of her XTERRA career with a third-place finish. Kabush continues to prove she turns on the speed as the year goes on and had the fastest run split (41:08) to finish in 2nd. Renata Bucher, one of the pre-race favorites to win this and winner of the Northeast Cup last weekend, had nothing go wrong except for a really tough race at altitude. Also of note, long-time amateur standout Brandyn Roark Gray got her pro card this week and placed 12th in her first-ever race as a professional.
Note: The course, designed by legendary Adventure Racer Mike Kloser, featured more than 4,000-feet of climbing and combined a 1-mile swim in Avon's Nottingham Lake with a 16-mile mountain bike and 6-mile trail run.
TOP PRO MEN
Also: Brad Zoller (41)
TOP PRO WOMEN
Also: Alexandra Borrelly (41), Brandyn Roark Gray (37), Flora Duffy (34)
XTERRA CUP SERIES STANDINGS
Nico Lebrun looked like he was well on his way to a mediocre season on the XTERRA America Tour, starting the year with a DNF at the West Cup and a pair of 5th place finishes at the Midwest and Southeast Cups. Then, he was 2nd in Idaho, 3rd in Richmond, 2nd in Arkansas, and won the last two races in a span of seven days to pull within 20 points of first-place. Now, Lebrun is in legitimate striking distance of the Cup Series crown. If he wins in Utah, and Stoltz is 4th or worse ... he wins. If he's second in Utah, and Stoltz is 5th or worse he wins (and it goes on like this, basically he needs to finish three spots ahead of Stoltz). But wait, Josiah Middaugh is not out of it. Middaugh, 30 points behind Stoltz and 20 behind Lebrun, would need a victory at USA Champs plus a 5th or worse by Stoltz. The women's Cup is all but locked up with McQuaid sweeping the first five races of the series to collect the maximum 500 points going into USA. Shonny V has climbed up and with the win today sits 38 points behind McQuaid - meaning she'd need a win coupled with a 7th place or worse showing by McQuaid to win the Cup Series.
Note: Pros count their best five finishes in the eight regular season races plus whatever their point score is at the XTERRA USA Championship to determine final standings.
2009 XTERRA CUP SERIES STANDINGS (Final Regular Season)
1 = Loews XTERRA West Cup (Lake Las Vegas Resort, NV) - May 2
AMATEUR RACE: Jason Michalak from Lakewood, Colorado won the men's amateur race, coming in 10th overall, with a time of 2:28:56 and Danielle Kehoe of Arvada, CO won the women's amateur title in 2:55:43. A complete list of age group champs and XTERRA World Championship race qualifiers will be released in this week's XTERRA News. Find complete results from today's race at ccrtiming.com.
Next up: The XTERRA USA Championship at Ogden and Snowbasin Resort, Utah on September 26, 2009.
The 2009 XTERRAMountain Cup is presented by Paul Mitchell, XTERRA.TV, and Beaver Creek Resort. National sponsors are GU, XTERRAGear.com, Rodale, Zorrel, Gatorade, Choice Hotels, and the Utah Sports Commission. Local sponsors include Small Champions, Impact Racing, The Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, Avon-Colorado, East-West Resorts, Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, U.S. Forest Service, and the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.
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