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“Josiah was just too fast for me, he was really strong,” said Lebrun. “I sat on his legs during the swim, rode behind him most of the bike, and then he dropped me on the run. He’s really strong, but in this kind of race nobody can beat Conrad. He’s on another planet on this kind of bike course.”
Stoltz said that a lot of the credit goes to the locals, whose homestay put him up in an airstream “like a rockstar” while Ian Moore of Bicycles Outback in Waco fine tuned his ride on Saturday night before the race. “Ian has worked with some of the best riders and innovative equipment mountain biking has ever seen and I think he’s probably just one of a handful of guys in the world that could’ve dialed in my bike like he did.”
Evans held on for fourth-place, his best result since finishing third in Alabama two years ago, and the young-gun Ryan DeCook made the podium in the fifth spot for the first time in his career.
Bucher Dances Her Way to Victory
Renata Bucher, the Swiss Miss of XTERRA, caught Melanie McQuaid at the end of the bike and pulled away on the run, winning in 2:17:59, a little more than two minutes ahead of Arlington, Texas native and Colorado resident Shonny Vanlandingham.
“It was just a perfect day,” said Bucher. It’s just the second of 22 career wins that have come in the U.S. for the four-time XTERRA European Tour Champ.
Bucher came out of the water four minutes behind Jeffrey, and two-minutes, 20 seconds after Melanie McQuaid, but still about a minute-thirty ahead of Shonny Vanlandingham – who would prove to be the fastest female on today’s bike course.
Still, McQuaid caught and passed Jeffrey early on and led through most of the bike until just before the newly crafted 50-foot long wooden bridge that connected a culvert tunnel over a muddy creek and onto single track that the Waco Bicycle club built last week for the benefit of this race.
“This course was so much fun. It’s like a long dance, up-and-down and up-and-down. You need both hands all the time because there are so many turns, and there is never a long flat section where you can catch your breath, so there’s no time to rest,” said Bucher. “I expected Shonny to catch me on the bike and we’d battle on the run, but I didn’t look back. I couldn’t look back. So, it was nice to come to the finish line and see that nobody was there.”
“She rode really well,” said Vanlandingham of Bucher. “Her power to weight ratio is amazing, and this bike is just incredible. It’s like a rollercoaster – really fun.”
McQuaid held on for third despite a hard charging Emma Garrard who posted the fastest run split and finished a career-best fourth, followed by Jeffrey in fifth. Austin, Texas native Shae Rainer finished sixth, and in her first XTERRA race ever, Christie Sym of Australia finished seventh.
After the race Sym came up to Vanlandingham and said, “can you teach me how to ride like that!” To which, Shonny replied, “sure, if you can teach me how to swim like that.”