September 24, 2011 (Ogden, UT) - There was a lot of hype entering the 2011 XTERRA USA Championship, and Nicolas Lebrun didn't receive much of it. But when it was all said and done, the top off-road triathlete from France proved that the XTERRA USA Championship is a bit different from a Tour de France.
Lebrun rallied from a slow swim with the fastest bike split of the day, and then finished with a strong run to run off with top honors at the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. It was his second USA title in the last three years.
"This is a very good race to win today," said Lebrun, 38. "I think a lot of athletes knew that this morning. With more media, more people around, it would be a very big victory. So I am really happy to have my best race of the year here."
Melanie McQuaid of Canada also had a very good race, and took top honors among the women. It was McQuaid's fourth consecutive women's USA Championship, and her fifth overall. "Obviously, this race is good for me," said McQuaid, 38.
It was one of the most anticipated events in XTERRA history, mostly because of the XTERRA debut of American cycling legend Lance Armstrong (pictured) – the seven-time Tour de France winner.
Armstrong, 40, was in third place for most of the race, but finished in fifth overall.
"At 40 years old, I guess I could have gone home and drank beer and played golf all day long," Armstrong said. "But it's cool to come out here and test yourself, and also just support a sport that I think is really cool."
Lebrun was as far back as fifth place midway through the bike, and did not take the lead until the final two miles of the run. To his own surprise, he passed Armstrong on the bike.
"I caught Lance on the bike," Lebrun said. "I said 'I'm passing Lance on the bike, is this a dream?' That was my first victory of the day."
Lebrun's bike time of 1:21:59 was 49 seconds faster than any of the other pros. He used the momentum to pass South Africans Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo in the run. Stoltz is the 2010 USA and world champion, and Hugo led the field by nearly a minute after the bike.
"I felt really strong on the run," he said. "I saw really quick that I was coming back on Conrad (Stoltz) and Dan (Hugo), so I can pace myself. With the altitude, if you push the pace too much sometimes you can crash."
Hugo said he was surprised with the lead he built during the bike, but was even more disappointed to lose it late in the run.
"I had a great swim; got out of the water and Armstrong was right there with us -- that was phenomenal," Hugo said. "From there, I decided to bike super hard and try to take charge. I took the lead, which was a little unexpected. Everything was going great until about one-third of the way through the run and I was really struggling. Maybe I over-biked a little bit."
Hugo, who had never finished higher than fourth at the USA Championship, said he was especially frustrated because of the grand stage that the 2011 USA Championship offered.
"I was pretty crushed," he said. "There was a lot of emotion on the line. We might never get an opportunity like this again. The world finally took notice of our sport, and I wanted to step up. I had a lot of want on the line today, and it was almost there."
Josiah Middaugh of Vail, Colo., placed third despite a mishap on his bike. He blew out a tire and ran with his bike for the last mile. Even after that, he was able to pass Stoltz and Armstrong on the run.
Stoltz placed fourth and Armstrong fifth. A large crowd gathered at Snowbasin Resort, and Armstrong received the loudest cheers when crossing the finish line.
"I was nervous," Armstrong said of his first triathlon in more than 20 years. "I was trying to stay focused on what I had to do today, just because I was so freaked out that it had been so long." Hear a pre-race interview with Lance Armstrong on xterra.tv.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time
1 Nicolas Lebrun 38 Digne-les-Bains, France 2:24:26
2 Dan Hugo 26 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:24:50
3 Josiah Middaugh 33 Vail, Colorado 2:25:37
4 Conrad Stoltz 37 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:27:30
5 Lance Armstrong 40 Austin, Texas 2:29:25
6 Branden Rakita 30 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:30:07
7 Ben Allen 26 North Wollongong, Australia 2:33:26
8 David Henestrosa 34 Manresa, Spain 2:33:28
9 Brad Zoller 34 Avon, Colorado 2:33:35
10 Cody Waite 32 Lakewood, Colorado 2:34:20
Also: Will Kelsay (41), Seth Wealing (37), Jason Michalak (34), Tim DeBoom (31), Adam Wirth (28), Craig Evans, Will Ross, Lewellyn Holmes, Chris Ganter, Michael Hiscott, Jimmy Archer, Patrick Valentine, Greg Gibson
McQuaid was solid from start to finish in the women's division. She took the lead early in the bike and maintained it the rest of the way.
Lesley Paterson of Scotland made up nearly four minutes on McQuaid during the run, and she still finished almost three minutes behind. McQuaid's finishing time was 2:43:00, while Paterson placed second at 2:45:59.
"I obviously had a really good day today and the only way I get to days like this is by being pushed by really strong athletes," McQuaid said. "And Lesley Paterson won her first XTERRA and absolutely crushed me in Santa Cruz (in May), so don't think I wasn't running scared out there."
Danelle Kabush of Canada was third, followed by Americans Kelley Cullen and Emma Garrard.
Shonny Vanlandingham, the 2010 XTERRA World Champion, competed despite an ACL injury in her left knee. She placed seventh, just behind Christine Jeffrey.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time
1 Melanie McQuaid 38 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:43:00
2 Lesley Paterson 30 San Diego, California (Scotland) 2:45:59
3 Danelle Kabush 36 Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2:47:43
4 Kelley Cullen 30 New Castle, Colorado 2:49:24
5 Emma Garrard 30 Park City, Utah 2:52:01
6 Christine Jeffrey 38 Guelph, Ontario, Canada 2:53:43
7 Shonny Vanlandingham 41 Durango, Colorado 2:54:16
8 Sara Tarkington 30 Boulder, Colorado 2:43:33
9 Suzie Snyder 29 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:54:48
10 Jessica Noyola 29 San Diego, California 2:59:41
Also: Carina Wasle (41), Luisa Bryce (37), Tracy Thelen (34), Tammy Jacques (31), Mical Dyck (28), Caroline Colonna, Kim Baugh
STOLTZ GET HIS 9TH, McQUAID HER 4TH XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES TITLE
As proof of the consistency of the elites competing in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series there was almost no movement among the main players in the men's and women's field. Stoltz fourth-place 75 (his lowest score of the year) was by far good enough to secure his record-setting ninth XTERRA U.S. Pro Series championship. Middaugh, who won two races this year and finished in the top four in the six he raced at, was squarely in second and Lebrun and Rakita remained in 3rd and 4th with excellent showings today. The only big move came from Dan Hugo, who jumped from 8th to 5th with his incredible showing today, which marked his fourth second-place finish of the season.
In the women's series McQuaid jumped to an early lead by winning three of the first four races, but last year's series champ Vanlandingham rallied to make it a virtual tie heading into this one. Unfortunately a knee injury kept Vanlandingham from performing at her best, but McQuaid might have been unstoppable today regardless. The Series' title is her fourth, and third in four years. Christine Jeffrey, Emma Garrard, and Suzie Snyder comprised the top five all year and finished 3,4,5 just the way they entered today's race. The only notable shift was that of Kelley Cullen and Lesley Paterson, who leapfrogged past Renata Bucher who didn't race today.
2011 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (Final)
Pl Name West SC Pacific S'East East Mtn USA Totals
1 Conrad Stoltz 90 100 100 100 100 DNR 75 565
2 Josiah Middaugh 100 90 75 82 DNR 100 82 529
3 Nicolas Lebrun 75 75 DNR 69 82 75 100 476
4 Branden Rakita 82 69 69 x-58 75 69 63 427
5 Dan Hugo DNR DNR 90 90 90 DNR 90 360
6 Seth Wealing 58 82 82 DNF DNR 90 37 349
7 Cody Waite 49 x-45 58 63 53 49 45 317
8 Craig Evans 41 63 53 75 69 DNR DNP 301
9 Trevor Glavin 53 58 63 41 DNR DNR DNR 215
10 Brad Zoller 31 DNR DNR DNR 63 63 49 206
11 Jason Michalak 28 34 DNR 49 DNR 58 34 203
12 Adam Wirth 34 37 DNF 45 DNR 41 28 185
13 Patrick Valentine DNP 49 DNR 53 DNR 45 DNP 147
14 Brian Smith 45 DNR DNR DNR DNR 82 DNP 127
15 Matt Boobar DNR DNP DNR 37 49 37 DNR 123
16 Shiloh Mielke 37 41 41 DNF DNR DNR DNR 119
17 Chris Stehula 69 DNR 49 DNR DNR DNR DNR 118
18 Will Ross DNR 53 DNR DNR 58 DNR DNP 111
19 Damian Gonzalez DNP 28 34 34 DNF DNR DNR 96
20 Will Kelsay DNP 31 DNR DNR DNF DNR 41 72
21 Lance Armstrong DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 69 69
22 Jim Thijs 63 DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 63
23 Ben Allen DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 58 58
24 Tim Reed DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 53 DNR 53
25 David Henestrosa DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 53 53
26 Eric Clarkson DNR DNR 45 DNR DNR DNR DNR 45
27 Barry Wicks DNR DNR 37 DNR DNR DNR DNR 37
28 Jimmy Archer DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 34 DNP 34
29 Chris Vander Linden DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 31 DNR 31
30 Tim DeBoom DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 31 31
Pl Name West SC Pacific S'East East Mtn USA Totals
1 Melanie McQuaid 100 100 x-69 100 90 90 100 580
2 Shonny Vanlandingham 90 90 x-75 90 100 100 58 528
3 Christine Jeffrey 82 82 63 75 75 x-58 63 440
4 Emma Garrard 63 69 82 69 DNR 69 69 421
5 Suzie Snyder 58 75 58 58 82 x-53 49 380
6 Jessica Noyola 53 63 53 63 69 DNR 45 346
7 Caroline Colonna DNR 53 49 49 63 41 DNP 255
8 Tracy Thelen 45 58 DNR 53 DNR 45 34 235
9 Kelley Cullen 75 DNR DNR DNR DNR 82 75 232
10 Lesley Paterson DNR DNR 100 DNR DNR DNR 90 190
11 Renata Bucher DNR DNR 90 82 DNR DNR DNR 172
12 Danelle Kabush 69 DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 82 151
13 Sara Tarkington DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 75 53 128
14 Luisa Bryce DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 63 37 100
15 Jaime Brede DNR DNR DNR DNR 58 DNR DNR 58
16 Rosemarie Gerspacher 49 DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 49
17 Kim Baugh DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 49 DNP 49
18 Stella Carey DNR DNR 45 DNR DNR DNR DNR 45
19 Carina Wasle DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 41 41
20 Tammy Jaqcques DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 31 31
21 Mical Dyck DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR DNR 28 28
DNR = Did Not Race // DNP = Did Not Place
Note: The top 15 pros at each event were awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros counted their best five-of-six scores plus the points they get (or didn't get) at the XTERRA USA Championship today. Thus, the final point total combines an athletes' best five scores in the first six races, plus the USA Championship race points. Stoltz and McQuaid garnered the most points, and were thus declared the U.S. Pro Series Champions. The U.S. Series dished out $143,000 in prize money: $10,500 at each regional, $20,000 for today's race, and $60,000 to the top overall points scorers in the Series.
April 10 - XTERRA West Championship (Lake Las Vegas, NV)
April 17 - XTERRA South Central Championship (Waco, TX)
May 15 - XTERRA Pacific Championship (Santa Cruz, CA)
May 22 - XTERRA Southeast Championship (Oak Mountain State Park - Pelham, AL)
June 12 - XTERRA East Championship (Richmond, VA)
July 16 - XTERRA Mountain Championship (Beaver Creek Resort - Avon, CO)
Sept. 24 - XTERRA USA Championship (Ogden/Snowbasin Resort, UT)