Female mountain bikers do well at Xterra World Championships

A half dozen current or former pro mountain bike racers occupied the top 16 spots at the Xterra World Championships run this past weekend in Maui, Hawaii. The Xterra races are off-road triathlons that include swimming, trail running and mountain biking.

The race was won for the third time by triathlete Julie Dibens in a time of 2:56:42. Former Candian national team rider Melanie McQuaid was not far behind; she finished in third place with a time of 3:08:00. A little under four minutes later, Shonny Vanlandingham, who used to race as a top pro mountain biker for Luna, was fifth despite suffeirng a cold, and a final top-10 performance went to Danelle Kabush, sister of Canadian mountain bike star Geoff Kabush.

Perhaps the most surprising name on the results was that of Marie Helen Premont, who races currently on the World Cup mountain bike circuit. The Canadian had planned to retire this year, but extended her career and intends to compete next summer at the World Championships, which will be held in Mont Sainte Anne, in her home province of Quebec. She logged the second-fastest bike split, behind only Dibens.

Sabrina Enaux and Jennifer Smith placed 15th and 16th respectively. In recent weeks, the Frenchwoman Enaux signed for the new Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team. The 31-year-old is a regular top-20 finisher on the mountain bike World Cup circuit and a top performer in many European races. Smith has raced events like the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race and often appears in endurance mountain bike events.

Both novelty and prize money can motivate mountain bike's female talent to race Xterras. Dibens took home US$20,000 for her victory. McQuaid earned $7,000, Vanlandingham $2,500 and Kabush collected $1,000 - amounts well above elite mountain bike race payouts.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.