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Lebrun, McQuaid win XTERRA USA Championship
(Ogden, UT) - There was a lot of hype entering the 2011 XTERRA USA Championship, and Nicolas Lebrun didn’t receive much of it. But when it was all said and done, the top off-road triathlete from France proved that the XTERRA USA Championship is a bit different from a Tour de France.
Lebrun rallied from a slow swim with the fastest bike split of the day, and then finished with a strong run to run off with top honors at the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. It was his second USA title in the last three years.
“This is a very good race to win today,” said Lebrun, 38. "I think a lot of athletes knew that this morning. With more media, more people around, it would be a very big victory. So I am really happy to have my best race of the year here.”
Melanie McQuaid of Canada also had a very good race, and took top honors among the women. It was McQuaid’s fourth consecutive women’s USA Championship, and her fifth overall. “Obviously, this race is good for me,” said McQuaid, 38.
It was one of the most anticipated events in XTERRA history, mostly because of the XTERRA debut of American cycling legend Lance Armstrong (pictured) – the seven-time Tour de France winner.
Armstrong, 40, was in third place for most of the race, but finished in fifth overall.
“At 40 years old, I guess I could have gone home and drank beer and played golf all day long,” Armstrong said. “But it’s cool to come out here and test yourself, and also just support a sport that I think is really cool.”
Lebrun was as far back as fifth place midway through the bike, and did not take the lead until the final two miles of the run. To his own surprise, he passed Armstrong on the bike.
“I caught Lance on the bike,” Lebrun said. “I said ‘I’m passing Lance on the bike, is this a dream?’ That was my first victory of the day.”
Lebrun’s bike time of 1:21:59 was 49 seconds faster than any of the other pros. He used the momentum to pass South Africans Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo in the run. Stoltz is the 2010 USA and world champion, and Hugo led the field by nearly a minute after the bike.
“I felt really strong on the run,” he said. “I saw really quick that I was coming back on Conrad (Stoltz) and Dan (Hugo), so I can pace myself. With the altitude, if you push the pace too much sometimes you can crash.”
Hugo said he was surprised with the lead he built during the bike, but was even more disappointed to lose it late in the run.
“I had a great swim; got out of the water and Armstrong was right there with us -- that was phenomenal,” Hugo said. “From there, I decided to bike super hard and try to take charge. I took the lead, which was a little unexpected. Everything was going great until about one-third of the way through the run and I was really struggling. Maybe I over-biked a little bit.”
Hugo, who had never finished higher than fourth at the USA Championship, said he was especially frustrated because of the grand stage that the 2011 USA Championship offered.
“I was pretty crushed,” he said. “There was a lot of emotion on the line. We might never get an opportunity like this again. The world finally took notice of our sport, and I wanted to step up. I had a lot of want on the line today, and it was almost there.”
Josiah Middaugh of Vail, Colo., placed third despite a mishap on his bike. He blew out a tire and ran with his bike for the last mile. Even after that, he was able to pass Stoltz and Armstrong on the run.
Stoltz placed fourth and Armstrong fifth. A large crowd gathered at Snowbasin Resort, and Armstrong received the loudest cheers when crossing the finish line.
“I was nervous,” Armstrong said of his first triathlon in more than 20 years. “I was trying to stay focused on what I had to do today, just because I was so freaked out that it had been so long.” Hear a pre-race interview with Lance Armstrong on xterra.tv.
Also: Will Kelsay (41), Seth Wealing (37), Jason Michalak (34), Tim DeBoom (31), Adam Wirth (28), Craig Evans, Will Ross, Lewellyn Holmes, Chris Ganter, Michael Hiscott, Jimmy Archer, Patrick Valentine, Greg Gibson
McQuaid was solid from start to finish in the women’s division. She took the lead early in the bike and maintained it the rest of the way.
Lesley Paterson of Scotland made up nearly four minutes on McQuaid during the run, and she still finished almost three minutes behind. McQuaid’s finishing time was 2:43:00, while Paterson placed second at 2:45:59.
“I obviously had a really good day today and the only way I get to days like this is by being pushed by really strong athletes,” McQuaid said. “And Lesley Paterson won her first XTERRA and absolutely crushed me in Santa Cruz (in May), so don’t think I wasn’t running scared out there.”
Danelle Kabush of Canada was third, followed by Americans Kelley Cullen and Emma Garrard.
Shonny Vanlandingham, the 2010 XTERRA World Champion, competed despite an ACL injury in her left knee. She placed seventh, just behind Christine Jeffrey.
Also: Carina Wasle (41), Luisa Bryce (37), Tracy Thelen (34), Tammy Jacques (31), Mical Dyck (28), Caroline Colonna, Kim Baugh
STOLTZ GET HIS 9TH, McQUAID HER 4TH XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES TITLE
As proof of the consistency of the elites competing in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series there was almost no movement among the main players in the men's and women's field. Stoltz fourth-place 75 (his lowest score of the year) was by far good enough to secure his record-setting ninth XTERRA U.S. Pro Series championship. Middaugh, who won two races this year and finished in the top four in the six he raced at, was squarely in second and Lebrun and Rakita remained in 3rd and 4th with excellent showings today. The only big move came from Dan Hugo, who jumped from 8th to 5th with his incredible showing today, which marked his fourth second-place finish of the season.
In the women's series McQuaid jumped to an early lead by winning three of the first four races, but last year's series champ Vanlandingham rallied to make it a virtual tie heading into this one. Unfortunately a knee injury kept Vanlandingham from performing at her best, but McQuaid might have been unstoppable today regardless. The Series' title is her fourth, and third in four years. Christine Jeffrey, Emma Garrard, and Suzie Snyder comprised the top five all year and finished 3,4,5 just the way they entered today's race. The only notable shift was that of Kelley Cullen and Lesley Paterson, who leapfrogged past Renata Bucher who didn't race today.
2011 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (Final)
Note: The top 15 pros at each event were awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros counted their best five-of-six scores plus the points they get (or didn't get) at the XTERRA USA Championship today. Thus, the final point total combines an athletes’ best five scores in the first six races, plus the USA Championship race points. Stoltz and McQuaid garnered the most points, and were thus declared the U.S. Pro Series Champions. The U.S. Series dished out $143,000 in prize money: $10,500 at each regional, $20,000 for today's race, and $60,000 to the top overall points scorers in the Series.
April 10 - XTERRA West Championship (Lake Las Vegas, NV)
IGNATZ, DONELSON WIN XTERRA AMATEUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
A former and future professional were at the top of the standings of the amateur division of the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort, near Ogden, Utah.
Ryan Ignatz, a former top-10 finisher in the pro division of the USA Championship, took first place overall among the amateurs this year. He finished with a time of 2:37:26, which was topped only by 11 professionals. Ignatz, who is 33 and resides in Boulder, Colo., was an XTERRA pro as recently as 2009, and placed sixth at the 2006 XTERRA USA Championship.
Ogden’s own Nick Fisher was the second amateur, finishing with a time of 2:38:15. Fisher, 25, may soon join the professional ranks.
The top amateur female was Tamara Donelson of Edwards, Colo. She finished with a time of 3:04:01. Donelson, 36, also won the women’s 35-39 age group for the second consecutive year.
Heather Lyman of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., placed second among the amateur females with a time of 3:05:06.
Several triathletes added to their list of titles from the USA Championship, including two women who have now won seven. Barbara Peterson of Berkeley, Calif., won her seventh USA amateur title, and her first since 2006. She won the women’s 55-59 division for the first time. Her previous titles came in the 40-44, 45-49 and 50-54 age groups.
Cindi Toepel of Littleton, Colo., also won her seventh USA amateur championship, and fifth in a row. She placed first in the women’s 60-64 division with a time of 3:45:18, which was more than an hour ahead of the next finsiher in that age group.
Beverly Enslow of Metamora, Ill., won her sixth consecutive USA amateur title – the longest active streak. She won the women’s 50-54 age group with a time of 3:27:52. Her first title came in 2006, when she was in the 45-49 age group. Also of note, Steve Cole of Olive Branch, Miss., won his first XTERRA USA Championship. He placed first in the men’s 55-59 age division, one night after receiving the “Mr. XTERRA” award. Cole is a long-time XTERRA triathlete, and owns a record 11 regional championships.
The other triathletes who added to their list of USA Championships: Kerri Grosse (women 45-49), three titles; Jason Jablonski (men 35-39), two titles; Bruce Wacker (men 60-64), two titles; Nathaniel Grew (men 70-older), two titles; Willie Stewart (physically challenged), three titles.
First-time USA Championship winners were: Neilson Powless (men 15-19), Mathieu Signoretty (men 20-24), Nick Fisher (men 25-29), Ryan Ignatz (men 30-34), Kevin Donovan (men 40-44), Rob Laurie (men 45-49), Brent Peacock (men 50-54), and Michael Orendorff for the men and Hannah Rae Finchamp (15-19), Laurel Peak (20-24), Margaret Peterson (25-29), Heather Lyman (30-34), and Gina Rau (40-44) for the women.
XTERRA USA CHAMPIONS - WOMEN
XTERRA USA CHAMPIONS - MEN
* TOP AMATEURSComplete XTERRA USA Championship results
XTERRA UTAH OPEN RACES
There were also two open races, the XTERRA Utah long and short course off-road tris. Aaron Jordin and Jennifer Kandolin won the long course race, while Blake Fessler and San San Wu won the short course titles. Long Course Results // Short Course Results
Perhaps the most inspiring race of the day came from Jamie Whitmore (pictured), who won 37 career XTERRA championship races. Her last was the USA title in 2007. A few months after that race doctors discovered spindle cell sarcoma growing out of her sciatic nerve. Faith got her through, and "J-Dawg" is back on the bike and raced in the XTERRA Utah short course today, finishing the punishing event in 3:21:44. See her pre-race interview here.
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