Middaugh wins Xterra USA Championship
LAKE TAHOE, Nev. – Local triathlete Josiah Middaugh was crowned the Xterra United States Champion Sunday in Lake Tahoe, Nev., after he was the first American to cross the finish line at the Xterra USA Championship. Middaugh recorded the fastest times in the running and bike legs of the triathlon but finished in third place overall behind pros Eneko Llanos of Spain and Sylvain Dodet of France with a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes and 15 seconds.Llanos finished with a time of 2:36:36, and Dodet was just under a minute behind in 2:37:25.Both Europeans were not eligible for the title of U.S. champ, since they are not U.S. citizens. They did, however, receive the first-place and second-place prize money for the race.With his third-place finish, Middaugh also finished second in the United States Xterra Pro Points Series, of which international racers are eligible. Dodet finished as the U.S. points champion.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Middaugh said Monday night. “I’m definitely honored to be the U.S. national champion. However, I really felt like I was competing against everybody with such a strong international field. (The title) was really in the back of my mind.”A tough swimDespite being fastest in two of the three legs, Middaugh said he wasn’t in top form Sunday. He felt his swim should have been faster and that his legs were “flat” during the main climb on the 32-kilometer bike ride, which ascended to a high point of 8,700 feet. “I raced as hard as I could,” he said. “I just didn’t feel like I had an on day. … I was able to suffer a lot, which was good.”
The one thing that Middaugh was most proud of was his run leg, in which he held off Nicholas Lebrun of France and surged past Conrad Stoltz of South Africa on the 10k course. Stoltz had won the Xterra race in Lake Tahoe the previous three years in a row and Lebrun is known for being a strong runner. The Frechman almost caught Middaugh in July at the Xterra West Championship in Keystone. But, “The Kid,” as Middaugh is called in pro circles, managed to beat both to the finish.”Getting off the bike, it was pretty exciting,” Middaugh said. “There was a pack of five guys all together. The three leaders were up ahead, but the remaining five of us were all in a group including Nicholas Lebrun, who posts the fastest runs most of the time. I was able to hold him off and I made up a minute and a half of time on Conrad Stoltz, which was surprising.”Next up for Middaugh is this year’s Xterra World Championship in Maui October 24. Last year in Maui he finished seventh to conclude his first season as a pro.
This year, he hopes to make it on to the podium. “I feel really good about it,” he said. “I feel like I can mix it up with everybody. What happens in Hawaii is that a lot of the top contenders stumble. It’s such a huge event and it’s so late in the season that you can always count on some of the top 10 guys not being where they usually are at the end. … It’s a hot, humid climate and they just get burnout. Or, there’s a mechanical problem with the bike or something. … I think I have a shot at the top three.”Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Colrado
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