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More than 300 athletes—including off-road triathlon’s top pros—are headed to Lake Las Vegas in the southern Nevada desert for the first championship race of the 2010 Xterra America Tour.
Written by: Julia Polloreno
This Sunday, April 25, a stacked pro men’s field including three-time Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz, three-time Xterra European Tour Champion Nico Lebrun and top-ranked American off-road triathlete Josiah Middaugh will battle on the 1.5K swim, 30K mountain bike and 10K trail run course. In the women’s race, Shonny Vanlandingham, America’s most successful mountain biker of all time, Olympic triathlete Fabiola Corona from Mexico, four-time Xterra European Tour Champion Renata Bucher from Switzerland, and three-time Xterra World Champion Melanie McQuaid will vie for the Western title. Also on the line: the $10,500 prize purse for pros and 41 qualifying slots into the Xterra World Championship in Maui for amateur racers.
Following the .93-mile swim that starts on the white sand beach fronting the Loews Las Vegas, the luxurious host hotel, racers will begin an 18.6-mile mountain bike trek through the rugged desert landscape, which more closely resembles the surface of the moon. The 6.2-mile trail run includes two grueling 3-mile loops with 500-plus feet of climbing each loop. In addition to the championship race, there is also a half-distance Xterra Sport race, an off-road duathlon, relay team competitions, and 5, 10, and 21K trail runs. All take place on Sunday, April 25.
Everyone in the top 11 from last year’s series appears on the start list (except for No. 4 seed Mike Vine, who is starting a new job and in the process of moving). Stoltz is the man to beat and will be vying for his 32nd career Xterra Championship. Nico Lebrun of France comes in with the most momentum, having won three straight races—the Northeast Cup, Mountain Cup, and USA Championship—to finish the 2009 America Tour, and then finishing 55 seconds short of winning his second Xterra World Title in Maui. Lebrun started his season with a third-place finish at Xterra Portugal on April 3. Josiah Middaugh, who came off the bike in front last year but lost his lead on the run, will be one to watch. The “Colorado Boys” will be out in full force with Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita, Brian Smith, Cody Waite and Will Kelsay entering the fray.
Canada’s Melanie McQuaid dominated at the start of the ’09 America Tour with five straight wins, has found formidable competition in Shonny Vanlandingham (2nd last year), Lesley Paterson (3rd) and Renata Bucher (4th). Bucher most recently won Xterra Saipan, Xterra Guam and Xterra Portugal. Paterson, who finished 2nd at Xterra Worlds last October, recently introduced herself to the 70.3 distance by placing 2nd at Ironman 70.3 California in March. She comes to Vegas with a new, lighter bike and a whole lot of confidence.
‘09 Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Conrad Stoltz – 36, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2 – Nicolas Lebrun -36, Digne, France
3 – Josiah Middaugh – 31, Vail, Colorado
5 – Dan Hugo – 24, Stellenbosch, South Africa
6 – Seth Wealing – 31, Boulder, Colorado
7 – Branden Rakita – 29, Manitou Springs, Colorado
8 – Brian Smith – 34, Gunnison, Colorado
9 – Craig Evans – 32, Hendersonville, Tennessee
10 – Cody Waite – 31, Lakewood, Colorado
11 – Will Kelsay – 28, Boulder, Colorado
16 – Ryan DeCook – 29, Rochester, Michigan
17 – Scott Gall – 35, Cedar Falls, Iowa
28 – Chris Newell – 41, Reisterstown, Maryland
29 – Damian Gonzalez – 33, Stockton, California
NR – Trevor Glavin – 30, San Diego, California
NR – Julian Langer – Austria NR – Sean Bechtel – 26, Caledon, Ontario, Canada
NR – Brad Zoller – 32, Avon, Colorado
‘09 Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Melanie McQuaid – 36, Victoria, B.C., Canada
2 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 40, Durango, Colorado
3 – Renata Bucher – 32, Lucerne, Switzerland
5 – Christine Jeffrey – 37, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
6 – Jenny Smith – 37, Westport, New Zealand
7 – Emma Garrard – 28, Truckee, CA
11 – Lesley Paterson – 29, Scotland San Diego, CA
12 – Tracy Thelen – 30, Colorado Springs, CO
19 – Brandyn Roark Gray – 30, Aztec, New Mexico
NR – Rosemarie Gerspacher – 33, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
NR – Katie Ellis – 25, Phoenix, Arizona
NR – Fabiola Corona – 29, Mexico City, Mexico