Flat tires derail Vail’s Middaugh | VailDaily.com

Flat tires derail Vail’s Middaugh

Rocky Arroyo | XTERRA PhotosJosiah Middaugh, of Eagle-Vail, rides on the rim of his back tire at about mile 16 of the 20-mile bike portion of Sunday's Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii. Middaugh had four flat tires in the mountain-bike part of the race. He finished 51st.

VAIL, Colorado – Midway through the mountain bike portion of Sunday’s Xterra World Championship triathlon, Josiah Middaugh was feeling like he was having the best race he’d ever had on the daunting Maui course.

The Vail pro triathlete had moved into second place in the 20-mile mountain bike section, just behind three-time winner Conrad Stoltz, of South Africa.

But then Middaugh’s bike stopped cooperating.

He got a flat shortly past the midway point, but was able to fix it pretty quickly, dropping to fourth place, four minutes behind Stoltz.

Middaugh, 32, was gaining ground on the riders in front of him when he got another flat in a rocky section of the course, which traverses the slopes of the Haleakala Volcano.

“I ended up getting four flats,” Middaugh said. “I rode on the rim a lot. … It was just kind of ugly.”

He was prepared for one or two flats, but not four. Fellow riders, including fellow Vail Valley pro Brad Zoller, helped him with extra tubes and carbon dioxide cartridges, but lots of time had been lost.

Middaugh, who finished third in the national championships last month, finished 51st on Sunday with a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes, 29 seconds. He was about 31 minutes behind Stoltz, who won his fourth world championship.

Middaugh has been the top American in the Xterra U.S. Pro Series six of the last seven years. He placed ninth in the World Championship last year.

Meanwhile, Zoller, a 33-year-old Avon resident, had the top local finish, ending up in 28th.

“I’m psyched,” Zoller said after finishing the race. “Being my first world championships with Xterra, I’m really excited. That was way better than I thought I’d do.”

Starting-line adrenaline helped Zoller come out of the waters onto Maluaka Beach among the leaders.

Zoller said his Colorado training helped him attack the intimidating bike course, which was peppered with scary, loose lava rocks. He escaped without a flat tire or a fall.

“Everything worked perfectly for me on my bike,” he said.

Trudging through the sand in the last mile of the run, Zoller finished in two hours, 54 minutes, 21 seconds.

“Overall, I did way better than I expected,” said Zoller, a longtime triathlete who got into Xterra races after moving to the Vail Valley a little more than a year ago.

Other local athletes did well in Maui on Sunday, too.

• Henry Reed finished 65th, with a time of three hours, six minutes, 29 seconds.

• Peter Dann finished 197th, with a time of three hours, 37 minutes, 44 seconds.

• Jen Razee was 258th, with a time of three hours, 53 minutes, 24 seconds.

The course consisted of a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 32-kilometer mountain bike ride, and an 11-kilometer trail run.

Managing Editor Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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