Pelham, Alabama May 20th 2011---Conrad Stoltz is the favorite to win Sunday’s race, among a packed pro-field that includes 11 of the top 12 men in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series rankings as well as the top five elite females.
The Caveman has won the last four races here in Alabama. The reason is simple, a technical and tough bike course that plays right into his strengths.
“I really have to thank BUMP for designing such an excellent bike course. This course suits me better than any other course ever made,” said Stoltz after his win last year.
Stoltz most formidable opponent on Sunday is American Josiah Middaugh, who defeated the Caveman at the first race of the season in Nevada and is arguably the fastest trail runner in XTERRA. Middaugh is a great biker too, and if he can come off the bike within striking distance of Stoltz he’s capable of chasing him down. Middaugh was second to Stoltz here in each of the last two seasons.
The “local” favorite is Craig Evans from Tennessee, who is usually the first racer out of the swim and leads the bike here during the first several miles. Should he be able to pin the bike anything is possible, and he has twice finished 3rd here (last year and in ’08).
American Seth Wealing was recently second overall (Top American) at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in Spain and is racing as fast as he ever has. Other serious contenders for the overall title include XTERRA South Africa Champion Dan Hugo who was second to Stoltz in Santa Cruz last Sunday, 2005 XTERRA World Champion Nicolas Lebrun, and third-ranked Series pro Branden Rakita.
In the women’s race Melanie McQuaid has emerged as the front runner in 2011. She won the first two races of the season convincingly and also the ITU Cross Tri World Championship in April.
The three-time XTERRA World Champ won here in 2009 and back in 2006, while Shonny Vanlandingham (pictured below at Blood Rock) took the title in 2008 and last year. Both are great mountain bikers and this course suits them well. It might just come down to who has the best fitness on raceday.
Christine “Big Fish” Jeffrey will be the first woman (maybe even first overall) out of the swim and her bike has gotten better and better since she started mountain biking in 2007. Jeffrey uses Birmingham as her winter training grounds and has spent her fair share of time out on this course - which could make a difference come raceday.
XTERRA SOUTHEAST CHAMPIONSHIP PRO LIST
Men's Rank - Name - Age, Hometown
1 - Conrad Stoltz - 37, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2 - Josiah Middaugh - 32, Vail, Colorado
3 - Seth Wealing - 32, Boulder, Colorado
4 - Branden Rakita - 30, Manitou Springs, Colorado
5 - Trevor Glavin - 31, San Diego, California
6 - Craig Evans - 33, Hendersonville, Tennessee
7 - Cody Waite - 32, Lakewood, Colorado
8 - Nicolas Lebrun -38, Digne, France
9 - Shiloh Mielke - 31, Durango, Colorado
11 - Dan Hugo - 25, Stellenbosch, South Africa
12 - Adam Wirth - 32, Boise, Idaho
14 - Jason Michalak - 33, Lakewood, Colorado
15 - Damian Gonzalez - 34, Stockton, California
17 - Patrick Valentine - 25, Colorado Springs, Colorado
NR - Matt Boobar - 38, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Women's Rank - Name - Age, Hometown
1 - Melanie McQuaid - 37, Victoria, B.C., Canada
2 - Shonny Vanlandingham - 41, Durango, Colorado
3 - Christine Jeffrey - 38, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
4 - Emma Garrard - 29, Park City, Utah
5 - Suzie Snyder - 29, Fredericksburg, Virginia
7 - Tracy Thelen - 31, Colorado Springs, Colorado
8 - Caroline Colonna - 46, Taos, New Mexico
10 - Renata Bucher - 33. Lucerne, Switzerland
Photo Credit: EXTERRA