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Lebrun, Vanlandingham Win XTERRA Mountain Cup

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shonny-run-1Nico Lebrun and Shonny Vanlandingham won the XTERRA Mountain Cup off-road triathlon in the Rockies at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado this afternoon.

It’s the second win in seven days for Lebrun – who captured the XTERRA Northeast Cup in Vermont on Sunday – and moves him into 2nd behind Conrad Stoltz in the Cup Series standings heading into the finals – the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah on September 26.

The 2005 XTERRA World Champ from France had won three consecutive XTERRA European Tour championships from 2006-2008 before setting his sights on winning the XTERRA America Tour this year.  It wasn’t looking good for Lebrun after the first three races (he didn’t finish at the West Cup and was fifth at the next two) but in his last five races he’s won twice, placed 2nd twice, and was third in another to move within striking distance of Stoltz – a remarkable comeback.

In today’s race Lebrun started slow, real slow, coming out of the swim nearly three minutes behind the lead pack that included Branden Rakita, Seth Wealing, road tri guys Joe McDaniel and Brad Zoller, and Olympic medalist Susan Williams.

What he lost in the swim Lebrun quickly made up on the bike (his 1:14:45 bike split was the best of the day, more than two minutes better than the second-best time put in by Cody Waite).  After he passed Mike Vine and Rakita he rode alone into the bike-to-run transition where he had about a minute on the chase pack.

Before Lebrun caught up to the front on the bike he noticed Josiah Middaugh walking with his bike.  Middaugh, who lives just a mile away from this course, had just caught Rakita (who was in the lead) on the bike at mile three when he hit a wooden sign post that exploded his pinkie (needed 9 stitches after the race) and sent him flying over the handle bars.  The crash taco’d his front wheel, which he fixed best he could but the tire was rubbing the fork the rest of the way.   Middaugh also lost his water bottle in the incident so didn’t get the calories he needed for the rest of the day but amazingly still came off the bike in 4th and passed Rakita on the run to finish in 3rd.

Vine had a solid day all around to finish a little more than a minute behind Lebrun in 2nd.  Cody Waite, who had the race of his career to this point, actually crossed the line in 2nd but had missed a short section of the run and was given a two-minute time penalty that put him in fourth.  Of note, Olympian Tyler Butterfield from Bermuda had the fastest run split (37:22) and finished 7th in his XTERRA Championship race debut (he was 2nd at the Buffalo Creek points series race in his first-ever XTERRA).

Vine had a solid day all around to finish a little more than a minute behind Lebrun in 2nd.  Cody Waite, who had the race of his career to this point, actually crossed the line in 2nd but had missed a short section of the run and was given a two-minute time penalty that put him in fourth.  Of note, Olympian Tyler Butterfield from Bermuda had the fastest run split (37:22) and finished 7th in his XTERRA Championship race debut (he was 2nd at the Buffalo Creek points series race in his first-ever XTERRA).

For Vanlandingham – the most successful rider in NORBA mountain biking history – the victory caps a brilliant second half of the season that included two wins (she also won the Southeast Cup), a second and third.  Vanlaningham won this race a year ago before it earned championship race status, but this time she did it against an incredible pro field that included Olympic bronze medalist Susan Williams, Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault, three-time XTERRA Europe champ Renata Bucher, two-time XTERRA Worlds runner-up Danelle Kabush, and a cast of others.

“Shonny V” was more than four minutes behind Williams coming out of the water but absolutely crushed the bike course, posting a  1:24:37 split that was five minutes better than Sara Tarkington’s second-best time.  Tarkington, meanwhile, had the best race of her XTERRA career with a third-place finish.  Kabush continues to prove she turns on the speed as the year goes on and had the fastest run split (41:08) to finish in 2nd.  Renata Bucher, one of the pre-race favorites to win this and winner of the Northeast Cup last weekend, had nothing go wrong except for a really tough race at altitude.  Also of note, long-time amateur standout Brandyn Roark Gray got her pro card this week and placed 12th in her first-ever race as a professional.

Provided by: Trey Garman, XTERRA