KAPALUA, Maui -- Michael Weiss of Austria went into the lead when he passed Lance Armstrong on Mile 14 of the bike and Lesley Paterson of Scotland took charge when she passed a fading Melanie McQuaid in the final mile of the run on their ways to victory at the XTERRA World Championship Sunday.
Weiss's race-best 1:19:32 bike split -- four minutes faster than his nearest pursuers -- was his ace in the hole on his way to a 2:27:00 finish that was 33 seconds faster than runner-up Dan Hugo of South Africa and 1:26 faster than third place finish Eneko Llanos of Spain, a three-time XTERRA World Champion.
Weiss combined a 23:34 swim -- 3:10 slower than 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno (who finished 12th) and 2:35 slower than Armstrong.
After his slashing great ride brought him a 45 seconds lead at T2, Weiss grinded out a 43:54 run which was matched by women's winner Lesley Paterson but was good enough to hold off runner-up Dan Hugo's 42:27 10k by half a minute.
"I came close the last three years, finishing 2nd, 3rd and 3rd and I'm extremely happy to finally win here," said Weiss. "This is a dream come true for me."
Weiss, who used all of his 2004 Olympic mountain biking skills to carve out his winning lead, said this victory was born of disappointment.
"I think the difference was that I did not finish Ironman Hawaii two weeks ago. I was very disappointed, but I was much fresher for this race compared to the last few years when I came to Maui very tired after Ironman finishes."
Armstrong started strong with a top four swim and took the lead roughly five miles into the bike but became vulnerable to Weiss's attack at Mile 14, as he later admitted, by going out too hard on the swim and bike. Just a mile from the end of the bike, Armstrong crashed hard enough to stop. "It seemed like the front wheel slid out and I just landed on my head," said Armstrong. "I hit it harder than I thought because I stood there for a while taking inventory and trying to remember my name." While he got going again, Armstrong was clearly knocked off his game and faded to 23rd with a survival-style 52:40 run which was 8 minutes slower than Weiss's closing 10k.
The women's race started out as a runaway for McQuaid, who was seeking a record tying 4th XTERRA World Championship. But it ended with trauma and drama.
After a first pack swim and likely a women's race-best bike, McQuaid started the run with a 6:25 advantage over Paterson who had to cope with a flat early on the bike. In most circumstances, even Paterson's 1:17 half marathon speed would not likely make up that difference in a 10k run. But Paterson started the task optimistic. "I think Melanie knew she had to have a 5-minute lead after the bike to beat me," said Paterson. "And she did better than that, but I think with this heat, she might have pushed herself over the limit."
In fact, Paterson was encouraged when she received reports that she made up three or four minutes in the first two and one half miles of the run. "At the time I was so angry that I had punctured on the bike," said Paterson. "I think that anger helped me to just knuckle down and go as hard as I could."
Paterson, who took second to Julie Dibens at the 2009 XTERRA World Championship, got McQuaid in her sights on a long, single track downhill one mile from the finish. "When I went by I made an extra effort so she would not come back on me," said Paterson.
But a few yards later, full of adrenaline but wobbling with dehydration, Paterson slipped on rocks on a riverbed and crashed to the ground going "arse over tit." Suffering a light cut on her leg, Paterson jumped right up and tore off across the soft sand of the beach section, climbed one last hill to the finish and hit the tape in 2:45:59 with a 2:09 margin over runner-up Marion Lorblanchet of France, who improved one place over her 2010 XTRERRA World Championship finish.
Helena Erbenova, a former cross country skiing star from the Czech Republic, took 3rd , 5:52 back of Paterson.
Sadly McQuaid struggled mightily, but collapsed 400 yards from the finish and was taken by medical personnel for further treatment.
"I have total respect for Melanie," said Paterson. "She gave all she had -- and more."
XTERRA World Championship
October 23, 2011
S 1.5k / B 30k / R 6.1 k
1. Michael Weiss (AUT) 2:27:00 -- $20,000
2. Dan Hugo (RSA) 2:27:33 -- $12,000
3. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 2:28:26 -- $7,000
4. Josiah Middaugh (Vail, Colorado) 2:29:14 -- $4,000
5. Ivan Raña (ESP) 2:29:31 --- $2,500
6. Olivier Marceau (SUI) 2:29:40 -- $1,500
7. Ronny Dietz ( ) 2:29:47 -- $1,000
8. Richard Ussher (NZL) 2:29:54 -- $800
9. Jan Kubicek (CZE) 2:30:54 -- $600
10. Christopher Legh (AUS) 2:31:10 -- $500
11. Sam Gardner (GBR) 2:33:15 -- $400
12. Jan Froderno (GER) 2:33:20 -- $300
14. Nicolas Lerbrun (FRA) 2:33:57
16. Tim DeBoom (USA) 2:34:23
23. Lance Armstrong (USA) 2:36:59
1. Lesley Paterson (GBR) 2:45:59 -- $20,000
2. Marion Lorblanchet (FRA) 2:48:08 -- $12,000
3. Helena Erbenova ( CZE) 2:51:51 -- $7,000
4. Renate Bucher (SUI) 2:52:04 -- $4,000
5. Danelle Kabush (CAN) 2:54:35 -- $2,500
6. Erin Densham (AUS) 2:57:46 -- $1,500
7. Sara Tarkington (USA) 2:57:59 -- $1,000
8. Emma Garrard (USA) 2:58:42 -- $800
9. Brandi Heisterman (USA) 3:03:39 -- $600
10. Jessica Noyola (USA) 3:04:25
16. Jessi Stensland (USA) 3:10:52