Conrad ‘The Caveman’ Stoltz claims his first victory at Xterra New Zealand

Conrad Stoltz, gold; Ben Allen, silver at Xterra New Zealand 2014

Olympians Conrad Stoltz of South Africa and Barbara Riveros of Chile captured the 12th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship race on a beautiful Saturday morning around the Blue Lake in Rotorua.

Stoltz, a four-time XTERRA World Champion and three-time ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion, set his sights on discovering the adventure and thrill of racing in some of the world’s most amazing venues in 2014 and got off to a rollicking start for that today.

“The course was phenomenal, exactly what I expected,” said Stoltz after the win. “I heard so many good things about it and saw footage of it on the internet. When I saw the course I thought, ‘wow, this is just phenomenal’. I wish I could stay longer and ride some more and see the rest of the trails out here.”

Australian Ben Allen, no stranger to the beauty of Rotorua as the reigning and two-time XTERRA New Zealand Champion, took the early lead out of the swim; however, Stoltz was not far behind and jumped into the front roughly 4km into the mountain bike.

“I had a really good race,” said Stoltz. “I’ve had good form early this year but had a couple of bad luck races with flats and stuff in South Africa so it was great to come out here and make the most of it.”

“I saw a wallaby, all the tree ferns, this beautiful lake, it’s just stunningly beautiful here,” said Stoltz. “Even the run, it’s shaded the whole way, lush and green. Plus, the Kiwis are crazy about their triathlon and are very knowledgeable about the sport so it was great to come out and be part of the XTERRA family here.”

Stoltz said he was smiling on the downhills, and came into the bike-to-run transition with a gap big enough to hold-off the speedy Allen who crossed the finish line just 40-seconds back. It’s Allen’s third XTERRA major in as many weeks, and he won the other two – at Great Ocean Road in Australia and the XTERRA Saipan Championship last week. 

“Pretty happy with my performance today,” said Barbara Riveros, who in her fourth-ever XTERRA race captured her first XTERRA Championship. “It’s hard to spend much time on my mountain bike because my focus is ITU and next month we start qualification for Rio.”

Barbara Riveros won Xterra New Zealand 2014 on the run

Great Britain’s Jacqui Slack, the 2012 New Zealand Champ, pushed Riveros to breaking point on the bike before succumbing to her phenomenal fitness level.

“Jacqui was pushing so hard on the bike, and came so very close to dropping me,” said Riveros. “I had to put the hammer down just to stay with her. I’m really happy for her because she has brought her mountain bike skill to another level. She’s another athlete compared to last year.

Though the two went neck-and-neck on the bike, Riveros took off on the run and won comfortably.

“Jacqui and I train in the same city in Australia and she told me you must come here, it is amazing and she was right. I am so grateful to Ben and Jacqui to suggest coming here. This place is unbelievable, like a dream. I just love nature, the trails are amazing, and it is a wonderful event,” said Riveros.

Meanwhile, on 13 April, Josiah Middaughand ” title=”Hugo And Duffy Win Xterra South Africa” href=”/racing/dan-hugo-and-flora-duffy-win-xterra-south-africa-2014/” target=”_blank”>Flora Duffy won the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series opener at the XTERRA West Championship around the desert of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada. Race favourite, Dan Hugo, had looked poised for the win until he unluckily flatted twice on the bike course.

XTERRA New Zealand Men’s Winners

1 Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:04:51
2 Ben Allen (AUS) 2:05:31
3 Olly Shaw (NZL) 2:07:28
4 Sam Osborne (NZL) 2:08:55
5 Roger Serrano (ESP) 2:11:27

XTERRA New Zealand Women’s Winners

1 Barbara Riveros (CHI) 2:18:32
2 Jacqui Slack (GBR) 2:24:14
3 Sarah Backler (NZL) 2:27:44
4 Lizzie Orchard (NZL) 2:30:20
5 Rachel Challis (NZL) 2:30:59

XTERRA NEW ZEALAND ALL-TIME WINNERS

2003 Sam Mallard / Evelyn Willamson
2004 Hamish Carter / Sonia Foote
2005 Hamish Carter / Sonia Foote
2006 Hamish Carter / Gina Ferguson
2007 Tim Wilding / Gina Ferguson
2008 Terenzo Bozzone / Sonia Foote
2009 Richard Ussher / Nicola Leary
2010 Scott Thorne / Nicola Leary
2011 Richard Ussher / Karen Hanlen
2012 Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack
2013 Ben Allen / Renata Bucher
2014 Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros