With Conrad Stoltz - winner of six of the last seven East Championships - still uncertain if he'll be able to race next Sunday due to recent injuries and the current Series leader Josiah Middaugh not on the start list in Richmond; the men's pro race is up-for-grabs.
At first glance Dan Hugo looks to be the favorite. In Richmond pasts he has placed 2nd to Stoltz twice (2011 and 2010) and was second to Middaugh in 2008. This year only Richard Murray (South Africa), Ben Allen (Philippines/Saipan/Guam/Malaysia) & Middaugh (Southeast Champs) have been faster than Hugo.
Stealing a major win on the U.S. Tour has been an elusive task for more than just Hugo, however, so trust that guys like Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, Brad Weiss, Ryan Ignatz, Will Kelsay, and Francisco Serrano will take advantage of the opportunity and give it everything they have.
In the women's race Lesley Paterson is the clear-cut favorite, and when you consider she finished fourth overall at the West Championship in April behind only Middaugh, Stoltz, and Rakita - she should be in the conversation to win it outright too.
That said, defending women's East Champ Melanie McQuaid has some serious credentials in the River City with an unprecedented 12 straight podium's on this course, including four wins. Shonny Vanlandingham won the 2011 title in Richmond and is in good form, as are Luna Pro teammates Suzie Snyder and Danelle Kabush.
The women's field is stacked with nine of the top 10 in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings on the start list.
Below is a look at the tentative pro field. Click on their name to see an image of them in action and learn more about each one. Click here for the full gallery. Note: Rank indicates their position in XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings, t = tied, NR = not ranked.
XTERRA East Championship - June 9 - Richmond, VA
Rank – Men – Age, Hometown
2t - Craig Evans - 35, Hendersonville, Tennessee
2t - Branden Rakita - 32, Colorado Springs, Colorado
4 - Will Kelsay - 31, Boulder, Colorado
5t - Nick Fisher - 27, Ogden, Utah
8t - Conrad Stoltz - 39, Stellenbosch, South Africa
8t - Dan Hugo - 27, Stellenbosch, South Africa
10t - Bradley Weiss - 24, Cape Town, South Africa
10t - Ryan Ignatz - 34, Boulder, Colorado
15 - Cody Waite - 34, Lakewood, Colorado
17 - Will Ross - 23, Anchorage, Alaska
18 - Andy Lee - 41, Lakeway, Texas
21 - Tim Snow - 37, Brockton, Massachussetts
22 - Damian Gonzalez - 36, Stockton, California
NR - Ryan DeCook - 32, Rochester Hills, Michigan
NR - Francisco Serrano - 33, Monterrey, Mexico
Rank – Women – Age, Hometown
1 - Lesley Paterson - 32, San Diego, California
2 - Melanie McQuaid - 39, Victoria, B.C., Canada
3 - Suzie Snyder - 31, Fredericksburg, Virginia
4 - Shonny Vanlandingham - 44, Durango, Colorado
5 - Danelle Kabush - 37, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
6 - Brandi Heisterman - 37, Squamish, B.C., Canada
7 - Emma Garrard - 30, Park City, Utah
8 - Christine Jeffrey - 40, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
9 - Caroline Colonna - 48, Taos, New Mexico
13 - Katie Button - 28, Victoria, B.C., Canada
NR - Catherine Sterling - 36, West Boylston, Mass.
NR - Chantell Widney - 32, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada