Conrad Stoltz Wins XTERRA West
On an incredibly hot day with temperatures in the upper 90’s Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz of South Africa powered through the grueling XTERRA West Championship course in Temecula Valley in two hours and 23 minutes to win the first of four regional championships on the XTERRA America Tour today.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Stoltz was in the first pack of racers to finish the 1-mile swim in the warm waters (roughly 72-degrees) of Vail Lake, absolutely crushed the 20-mile bike with the fastest split of the day in one-hour, 25 minutes, and stayed strong on the 6-mile up-and-down trail run to finish more than two minutes ahead of his protégé – runner-up Dan Hugo (also of South Africa).
Craig Evans was first out of the water but got chased down in a hurry by the South African duo that then pulled away from the chase pack during the initial series of climbs on the bike.
“Dan was right on my wheel and stuck with me to the very top of the course,” said Stoltz, the current and three-time XTERRA World Champion. “We dropped everyone pretty quickly but I couldn’t shake Dan, and had to fall bike on my technical skills. I don’t like to take big risks, but when it comes down to it, I will.”
Hugo, who first met Stoltz in their hometown of Stellenbosch when he was 11-years-old, has learned the tricks of the trade from his idol and fellow countrymen and is now using them against him.
“Over the years he’s taught me a lot, from guidance to equipment, he’s always helping me out. Half the reason I’m doing what I’m doing is because of him,” said Hugo.
Today Hugo was just seconds behind Stoltz in the swim, had the second best bike split, and finished in second place by more than three minutes.
“I taught him all my secrets when he was a kid but he’s not a kid anymore,” said Stoltz. “He’s not an up-and-comer either, he’s up here already, and I’m really happy to see him doing so well.”
Hugo showed great promise last year with a 6th place finish here in his very first U.S. XTERRA and even more potential after winning the XTERRA South Africa Championship last month (in that race, however, Stoltz had some mechanical issues on the bike). At 23-year-old Hugo is by far the youngest pro on tour and clearly his time will come, but not today.
“Conrad’s technical skills are so good, he’s just too fast and his cornering is amazing, you really have to see it to believe it,” said Hugo. “Someday there has to be a changing of the guard, but right now he’s still the man, still the King.”