Stoltz, Vanlandingham Wrap up US Pro Series Titles
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September 25, 2010 (Ogden, UT) – Conrad Stoltz from South Africa and Melanie McQuaid from Canada won the grueling XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon on an incredibly beautiful fall day at Snowbasin Resort this afternoon.
Stoltz, a two-time Olympian, completed the 1-mile swim, 19-mile mountain bike ride, and 6.5-mile trail run in 2:24:03, a five full minutes in front of last year’s race winner, Nicolas Lebrun from France. With the victory, Stoltz also won the six-stop XTERRA U.S. Pro Series for the eighth time since 2001, and took home $12,500 in prize money.
“I’m really, really surprised with my performance today,” said Stoltz. “I’ve said before that this is the anti-Conrad course because there are 3,000-feet of climbing and not a whole lot of descending, and because I’m 180 pounds it is especially challenging for me, but my legs felt amazing and the Specialized 29’er I was riding was incredible, it just rolled over all the roots and rocks.”
Stoltz’s five-minute margin of victory was by far the most dominating performance in the history of the XTERRA USA Championship race, and his prowess on the mountain bike turned it into a race for second place early on.
It all started with Stoltz one minute behind the swim leaders; amateur Patrick Valentine, and pros Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita, and Dan Hugo. Stoltz not only got that minute back, but put another minute on the field by mile four after the first big climb up Wheeler Canyon. By mile eight he led by three minutes and was absolutely flying when he passed a collection of journalists tracking the race.
When the bike course reached Snowbasin Resort at roughly mile 13 his lead was more than four minutes, and he went into the bike-to-run transition five minutes, 20 seconds up.
“I was really worried about the two mountain men, Josiah Middaugh and Nico Lebrun, because they are such great climbers and had no idea I had such a big lead until I got on the run. When I heard about the gap I was really able to enjoy this run, and savor the beauty of the course,” said Stoltz, who even had the chance to stop and kiss his girlfriend a half-mile before the finish line.
The real race was behind Stoltz, with the difference between second and fifth place decided by just 61 seconds.
Despite coming out of the water more than two minutes behind Stoltz, Lebrun and Josiah Middaugh worked their way through the field towards the front with Lebrun coming into T2 in second place, followed by another South African, Dan Hugo, Germany’s Felix Schumann, and Middaugh from the U.S.
Lebrun was able to maintain his spot in 2nd, and said that nobody was going to catch Conrad today.
“I pushed as hard as I could today but had no chance at Conrad. I think it might work out okay though, because last year I was first here and second at XTERRA Worlds so maybe this year I am second here, and first at Worlds,” smiled Lebrun.
Middaugh, who secured the top American spot in the U.S. Pros Series for the fourth straight year (and sixth time in the seven years), used the fastest run split to catch Schumann and Hugo by the second mile of the run to finish third.
The back-and-forth among those four, along with Seth Wealing and the other guys in the top 10, made for an exhilarating race. Not coincidentally, the top 5 guys had the top 5 bike splits, in order, with Stoltz posting a 1:25:11, Lebrun 1:28:17, Middaugh 1:30:00, Hugo 1:31:37, and Schumann 1:31:37.
McQuaid Saves Best for Last
Three-time XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid hadn’t won a race in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series all year, until today, perhaps the result of a focused year-long training plan specifically designed to peak for this race and next month’s XTERRA World Championship.
“I feel like I’ve got something brewing,” said McQuaid. “I’ve gotten the ones I wanted – the XTERRA European Championship in Italy, the XTERRA Canada Championship, this one, and now I want Worlds. I just need to get back to work and see what I got in a month from now.”
If it was anything like what she had today, she’ll be hard to beat. McQuaid came out of the water in second, one of her best XTERRA swims ever, took the lead early on in the bike by virtue of posting the fastest bike split, and never looked back. Despite rolling her ankle, which may have resulted in a broken toe, she kept a solid pace on the run and finished 42 seconds ahead of the speed-demon Leslie Paterson from Scotland (living in San Diego) who came in second.
Shonny Vanlandingham finished third on the day, but with a big smile as her result secured her first XTERRA U.S. Pro Series title, and the first for an American since Jamie Whitmore in 2007.
Jenny Smith placed fourth in just her third XTERRA this year (she won XTERRA Brazil and was third at the Mountain Championships in July), while Christine Jeffrey posted the fastest swim split and finished in fifth, her best showing in Utah.
Stoltz, Vanlandingham Win XTERRA US Pro Series Crowns
In 2010 Stoltz was perfect, winning all five races he entered in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series. It’s his eighth Series’ championship since 2001, and fourth in a row. It’s just the third time since the Pro Series started in 1999 that a pro man has had a perfect season, and the other two years also belong to the “Caveman” (in 2007 and 2002).
Middaugh held on to second place in the Series, as Wealing did with third place. Nico Lebrun made the biggest jump, from sixth entering the race to fourth after today, and Craig Evans placed in the top 5 (in fifth) for the first time in his career.
In the women’s Series chase Vanlandingham secured her first crown after two years in the runner-up position to McQuaid by having a stellar regular season that included three regional championship victories. The top five heading into this race all held position with Vanlandingham, McQuaid 2nd, Renata Bucher 3rd, Emma Garrard 4th, and Christine Jeffrey 5th. There was $60,000 in prize money awarded to the top performers.
Michalak, Noyola Win XTERRA Overall Amateur Crowns
More than 300 qualified athletes representing 40 states were at Snowbasin Resort today for their shot at the national championship of off-road triathlon. Jason Michalak, 32, from Lakewood, Colorado defended his title, while Jessica Noyola, 28, from San Diego, California stole the women’s crown from defending champion Jamie Brede (who placed second overall amateur and won the 30-34 division).
Of note, at 71-years-young Hans Dieben won his seventh XTERRA amateur crown, this time in the 70+ division, while Cindi Toepel won her sixth title. Other repeat champs include Beverly Enslow with five, David Rakita (Branden’s dad) with four, Caroline Colonna with three, and Michalak, Brede, Jeroen Keukenkamp, Dave Cloninger, Kevin Shelden, and Linda Usher with two each.