The 16th XTERRA World Championship turned into a sweet celebration for Michael Weiss, Lesley Paterson and Kapalua, Maui.
Weiss and Paterson earned their first XTERRA world titles on a new course that was described as both beautiful and brutal. After 15 previous years at Makena, the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon moved to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua this year.
A total of 675 athletes representing 28 countries and 42 states participated in the event, which featured a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 30-kilometer mountain bike and a 10-kilometer trail run.Weiss was the overall winner, completing the course in 2 hours, 27 minutes, including an astonishing bike split of 1:19:32. No other competitor finished with a bike time under 1:21:03. It was a breakthrough win for the 30-year-old Weiss, who had finished second at the 2008 XTERRA Worlds, and then third in 2009 and 2010.
“It’s amazing,” said Weiss, who is from Vienna, Austria. “I still cannot believe it. A big dream came true, and it was a really tough course.”
Weiss was in the middle of the pack after the swim, but made his remarkable move to the front on the bike. By midway through the bike course, Weiss and South Africa’s Dan Hugo were riding next to each other in second place.
The only rider in front of them was the legendary seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who was competing in the XTERRA World Championship for the first time.
Weiss and Hugo actually talked about working together so that they could conserve energy in their pursuit of Armstrong.
“That was a critical moment for me, about three-quarters of the way through the bike and I was with Weiss, and we said let’s work together, but (Weiss) was one notch stronger and he kind of took off from me and he bridged to Armstrong,” said Hugo.
Shortly after breaking away from Hugo, Weiss closed in on Armstrong, and said it gave him an adrenaline rush that pushed him all the way to the finish line.
“It felt amazing,” Weiss said. “I had goose bumps. It’s something very special to catch Lance on a climb. It was an amazing feeling, and even motivated me more.”
Weiss used that motivation to do the unthinkable – he passed Armstrong on an uphill bike climb.
“I stayed a little bit behind him, I looked how he was doing, and I just gave it a shot and attacked and Lance couldn’t follow,” Weiss said. “It was cool."
Armstrong later crashed toward the end of the bike course, and landed on his head. He said he needed a minute or two to gather his bearings before getting back on the bike.
“I hit it harder than I thought, because I stood there for a while taking inventory, trying to remember my name,” he said. “That probably took a little out of me ... I’ve never hit my head that hard before.”
Hugo also crashed late in the bike course, but managed to recover with only one other competitor passing him (Conrad Stoltz). However, Hugo rebounded with a strong run, and passed Stoltz and Armstrong early in the run course.
“I caught Armstrong pretty early (in the run) and knew I was in second,” Hugo said. “But I could never make it up on Weiss. He was a little too far in front. Looking back, that crash really hurt my chances, but that’s part of it. I would have loved it to be different, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Purse
1 Michael Weiss 30 Vienna, Austria 2:27:00 $20,000
2 Dan Hugo 26 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:27:33 $12,000
3 Eneko Llanos 34 Victoria-Gasteiz, Spain 2:28:26 $7,000
4 Josiah Middaugh 33 Vail, Colorado 2:29:14 $4,000
5 Ivan Rana 39 Ordes, Spain 2:29:31 $2,500
6 Olivier Marceau 38 Switzerland 2:29:40 $1,500
7 Ronny Dietz 33 Chemnitz, Germany 2:29:47 $1,000
8 Richard Ussher 35 Nelson, New Zealand 2:29:54 $800
9 Jan Kubicek 31 Chodov City, Czech Republic 2:30:54 $600
10 Christopher Legh 38 Lyons, Colorado 2:31:10 $500
11 Sam Gardner 36 Surrey, United Kingdom 2:33:15 $400
12 Jan Frodeno 30 Cologne, Germany 2:33:20 $300
13 Nicolas Lebrun 38 Digne-les-Bains, France 2:33:57
14 Mike Vine 38 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 2:34:03
15 Tim DeBoom 40 Boulder, Colorado 2:34:23