Canadian speed demon Brent McMahon (a 30-year-old former Olympian from Victoria, B.C.) will have to sit out the XTERRA World Championship for the second year in a row thanks to a bum knee, but he’ll be in Maui anyhow to take in the big show and we’ve enlisted his help to provide expert opinions during our live updates on XTERRAMaui.com on Sunday, as well as some inside perspective on how the pro races will shake out this year.
Having posted the fastest swim and run times in both 2005 and 2008 (which netted a pair of third-place finishes), McMahon knows a thing or two about going fast in paradise, and this is what he thinks might happen on Sunday…
After sifting through this season’s XTERRA results and the last couple years in Maui I noticed a lot of familiar faces keeping their game up, however, there are a couple of guys moving up the ranks that may have a breakthrough on Sunday.
That being said, Conrad Stoltz has been impressive this year and dominating as usual. What has me picking him for the win is his late season performance in Ogden at the XTERRA USA Championship which isn’t a typical strength for him.
His big win there shows he is still strong at the end of the season and perhaps even getting faster. Stoltz is obviously climbing well and really that is what the majority of the Maui course is about. His biggest opponent is going to be the heat and avoiding mechanicals.
I think the new challenger who has been flying under the radar a bit is Sebastian Kienle. He has had a great long course year showing awesome strength on the bike and that will put him in good stead on the Maui course. His lack of experience here, however, will give Conrad the edge but still has me picking him for second.
Rounding out the podium is going to come down to the boys from France with the experience. This will be a test of who has the most heart and determination between Franky Batelier, Olivier Marceau and Nicolas Lebrun. I have to pick Batelier though for the last podium spot as he has yet to taste it and has shown he has the ability to do it. There will be a great fight for the top five spots with perhaps some return to past form from both Seth Wealing and Josiah Middaugh, with Dan Hugo likely to put down a solid performance. As usual, Eneko Llanos will be a threat, but with a solid day in Kona in his legs, he’ll be hard pressed to crack the podium, but you never know as he won it all last year after racing in Kona.
On the women’s side it is going to be a story of experience, heart and determination that is going to dictate the winner. The past favorite Julie Dibens is going to have her work cut out for her this year with such a great first time performance at Ironman Worlds. She showed great all round form with a strong solo bike and steadfast run, but that comes with a price. As a result, I think she will be a little flat and with Melanie McQuaid (pictured) hitting some new form through 70.3 racing she will be tough to beat which has me picking her for the win. Not only does McQuaid have the experience, but she has the passion to get back on top after a couple of years outside the top two. She also has a new gear in her run stride from the 70.3’s and surely a few new tricks up her sleeve to put her there.
My choice for coming in second with the fire to try and win is Shonny Vanlandingham. She has shown before how to attack this bike course and with a third in Ogden is showing she is peaking at the right time. The run speed of past podium performer Lesley Paterson is hard to ignore after showing she still has it after dominating the run in Ogden and coming second. She will be a constant worry for McQuaid and Vanlandingham but ultimately it will be their strength on the bike and solid run performances that will keep them ahead.
The race for the top five is going mixed with experience; Carina Wasle, Renata Bucher and Danelle Kabush and breakthroughs by Sara Tarkington and Marie-Helene Premont.
It’s going to be a great race all day any way you look at it, but what do I know, I’ve been sitting on the couch all year long!