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ITU star Nicky Samuels of New Zealand takes the XTERRA World Championships in dominating style

Nicky SamuelsOlympian Nicky Samuels jumped into the lead early in the bike and stayed ahead for the rest of the race to clinch her first XTERRA World Championship and $20,000 prize money in Maui, Hawaii.

“[I’m] a bit shocked, really,” Samuels said of her successful debut at the XTERRA World Championship. “I didn’t know how my descending skills, or lack of, was going to stand up to the other girls.”

Samuels, 30, who raced for New Zealand at the London Olympics and normally focuses on ITU road events, and said she practiced her mountain biking for only three weeks prior to this race. Still, she was able to post the second-fastest bike split among the females at 1:49:36.

“I thought it would be hot and thought there would be a lot of sandy stuff on the bike,” she said. “I guess that’s what it might have been, but more of a mountain bike course with berms and jumps and things. It was kind of like a school cross country race when you’re 5 or 6. It was fun, something different and a nice way to end the season.”

She is the first female from New Zealand to win the XTERRA World Championship (Hamish Carter took the men’s title in 2006).

Her victory ended the successful run of Scotland’s Lesley Paterson, who was the two-time defending XTERRA women’s world champ and had posted seven consecutive XTERRA race victories leading up to this year’s Worlds.

“I just didn’t feel like I had the legs from the start and that’s a horrible course to feel like that,” said Paterson, 33.

Paterson said she knew midway through the bike that victory was probably out of reach, but she still displayed her champion spirit by tracking down two fellow pros on the run to take second place.

Paterson finished the bike in fourth, but passed Barbara Riveros first on the run, then staged a late surge to pass Flora Duffy in the final 100 meters of the run.

“I came off the bike just way down, not where I wanted to be, and I just fought all the way,” she said.

Paterson finished in 3:00:14, including the fastest run split of the day at 43:55.

Duffy, who is an Olympian from Bermuda, finished in third – five seconds after Paterson – for an impressive debut of her own at the XTERRA Worlds. “I’m shocked,” she said. “Coming into this race, I was kind of here just for fun.”

On Paterson’s late pass for second place, Duffy said: “I couldn’t respond. I was just hoping there was nobody behind Lesley.”

Riveros, who is an Olympian from Chile and placed second at the 2012 XTERRA Worlds, took fourth this year with a time of 3:01:43.

Emma Garrard from Park City, Utah, continued her strong showing at the end of this season with a career-best fifth place finish (and first American). She finished in 3:01:49, just six seconds behind Riveros. It followed her career-best fourth-place finish at the XTERRA USA Championship last month.

Chantell Widney from Canada was sixth (3:04:36) and Helena Erbenova from the Czech Republic was seventh (3:05:16).

Colorado’s Shonny Vanlandingham, the 2010 XTERRA women’s world champ, placed eighth (3:05:43), and posted the fastest bike split at 1:49:23.

Rounding out the top 10 were Jacqui Slack from United Kingdom in ninth (3:05:52) and Suzie Snyder in 10th (3:08:32).

PRO WOMEN 

Pl Name Age Hometown Final Time Purse
1 Nicky Samuels 30 Wanaka, New Zealand 2:57:48 $20,000
2 Lesley Paterson 33 Sterling, Scotland (San Diego, CA) 3:00:14 $12,000
3 Flora Duffy 26 Boulder, Colorado 3:00:19 $7,000
4 Barbara Riveros 26 La Pintana, Chile 3:01:43 $4,000
5 Emma Garrard 32 Park City, Utah 3:01:49 $2,500
6 Chantell Widney 33 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 3:04:36 $1,500
7 Helena Erbenova 34 Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic 3:05:16 $1,000
8 Shonny Vanlandingham 44 Durango, Colorado 3:05:43 $800
9 Jacqui Slack 30 Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom 3:05:52 $600
10 Suzie Snyder 31 Fredericksburg, Virginia 3:08:32 $500