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Race Preview: XTERRA Northeast Cup

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Conrad Stoltz-2007 XTERRA World ChampionThe XTERRA Northeast Cup features a field including the Cup Series’ current leaders, Conrad Stoltz and Melanie McQuaid.

The Caveman is a resilient creature.  As proof, Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz will toe the start line at the XTERRA Northeast Cup race at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont on Sunday, less than a month after slicing open the top of his foot before the Atlantic Cup in Richmond (which he won anyway).

It’s hard to say how Stoltz, who hasn’t run since Richmond (June 14), will fare in the Green Mountains but his presence alone will certainly change the dynamic of the pro race.  Stoltz has won four of the six XTERRA Cup races this year and sits atop the pro series leaderboard – 17 points ahead of Josiah Middaugh (Stoltz’ four firsts and one 5th = 469 / Middaugh has one win, 3-2nd’s, 1-3rd = 452 pts).

Middaugh, however, will not be racing in Sugarbush, opting for the extra rest and training prior to the XTERRA Mountain Championship in his backyard at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado next Saturday, July 18.  There will still be plenty of competition for the tall South African, however, with fellow countryman Dan Hugo, French powerhouse Nico Lebrun, American staples Seth Wealing and Branden Rakita, and Brit mountain bike standout Sam Gardner.  The course is also particularly suited to first-year pro Matt Boobar who hails from nearby Stratton Mountain in Vermont.

The course itself, as previewed by Will Kelsay in this helmet-cam video last week, is shaping up to be an epic challenge for the XTERRA riders.  Here is what Stoltz had to say about it (along with pics) on his website:

“This is by far the hairiest XTERRA course I have ever pre ridden. Sure, it’s almost all uphill, but it is super technical and slippery. It has been raining for the past 3 weeks and everything is slimy.”

Men’s Start List:
’09 Rank (after 6) – Name – Age, Hometown

1 – Conrad Stoltz – 35, Stellenbosch, South Africa
3 – Dan Hugo – 24, Stellenbosch, South Africa
4 – Nicolas Lebrun – 35, Digne-les-Bains, France
7 – Seth Wealing – 30, Boulder, Colorado
9 – Branden Rakita – 28, Manitou Springs, Colorado
10 – Will Kelsay – 27, Boulder, Colorado
11 – Matt Boobar – 36, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
NR – Dominic Gillen – 31, Milford, Connecticut
NR – Damian Gonzalez – 32, Stockton, California
NR – Kelly Guest – 32, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
NR – Sam Gardner – 34, Surrey, Great Britain
NR – Mark Leishman – 30, Palmerston North, New Zealand

The women’s race pits series leader and 3-time XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid from Canada against XTERRA USA national champ Shonny Vanlandingham.  In five head-to-head meetings this year McQuaid has won four races and Shonny V won the other (the South Central Cup in Arkansas on June 20).  The wildcard is 3-time XTERRA European Tour Champ Renata Bucher from Switzerland, as this grueling climb may suit the uber-lightweight Bucher better than anyone.  A pair of Canadians – Danelle Kabush and Christine Jeffrey – are always in the mix, Nicola Leary (2009 XTERRA New Zealand Champ) will be making her XTERRA debut on American soil at this race, and adventure racing Sari Anderson is throwing her hat into the mix as well.

Other American challengers include the young and talented likes of Erin Kummer (No. 6 in Cup Series) and Emma Garrard (No. 7 in Cup Series).

Women’s Pro Start List:

’09 Rank (after 6) – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Melanie McQuaid – 35, Victoria, B.C., Canada
2 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 39, Durango, Colorado
4 – Christine Jeffrey – 36, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
5 – Danelle Kabush – 34, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
6 – Erin Kummer – 24, Rochester Hills, Michigan
7 – Emma Garrard – 27, Truckee, California
9 – Alexandra Borrelly – 33, Digne-les-Bains, France
10 – Renata Bucher – 31, Lucerne, Switzerland
14 – Sari Anderson – 30, Carbondale, Colorado
16 – Kristy Lanier – 38, Marlinton, West Virginia
NR – Nicola Leary – 25, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Provided by: XTERRA/Trey Garman