Hugo and Duffy win inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, Courtney Atkinson takes Australian title
“It was a great win for Dan Hugo and perhaps his coming of age as a bona fide international superstar,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. “He has had second-place finishes at XTERRA Worlds, wins at various places around the globe, but he broke the back of a stellar field today in Australia that marks his first big win.”
The 28-year-old from Stellenbosch, South Africa is quick to agree:
“Great to win a championship, probably my first of this stature, it’s been a while coming. I grew up knowing Australia as the pinnacle of triathlon, where all the legends are from, so to win in my first race here is special.”
Hugo has now won four XTERRA majors this season. “It’s beautiful when it all clicks, and make no mistake this course suits me down to the ground. It was super technical to ride quick and it had some power climbing. I loved the bike course, it was so fun, and you just don’t get to see kangaroos very often.”
The inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship featured a $50,000 pro purse, two internationally distributed TV shows, and a big-time field.
“Biggest championship until Maui, really, and for us as professional athletes we so appreciate New South Wales for putting up the incredible pro purse, so to come out here to show gratitude and elevate the sport was super important, and to be on the top step is really special,” said Hugo.
The day started with two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson (AUS) putting a minute into the field in the water, but that lead was quickly taken away.
“Straight in, first mud hole, I got the first big crash done,” laughed Atkinson. “I thought I’d be able to hold a lead but it seems the fire tracks are as hard as the single track here.”
A group of riders with Hugo, Ben Allen, and Roger Serrano bridged the gap to Atkinson within the first few kilometers of the bike, then Hugo “chose a line through a mud section and that was it.” He got some daylight and drove a wedge between himself and the rest of the field from there. By the bike-to-run transition Hugo had three minutes on Serrano and Allen, and roughly six minutes to Braden Currie, Bradley Weiss, and Atkinson. Courtney showed off some amazing foot speed by picking off everyone in front of him but Hugo with the fastest run split of the day by far.
“When I heard I was six minutes down I didn’t think I could bridge that no matter how well I ran, but I heard that Benny (Allen) was two minutes up so starting thinking about winning the XTERRA Australia title and pushed,” said Atkinson, who finished three minutes, 48 seconds behind Hugo for second place.
For the women it was another amazing performance by Bermudian Duffy who finished far ahead of XTERRA World Champ Nicky Samuels (NZL) and placed ninth overall.
Samuels was first woman out of the water, swimming the second fastest split. Jacqui Slack put together three solid legs of swim/bike/run that netted her third woman while XTERRA Saipan winner Carina Wasle came fourth and “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher fifth.
“It all came together,” said Duffy, who won the XTERRA West Championship two weeks ago and has clearly solidified herself as the woman to beat this year. “I felt great coming into T2 after a really tough bike course and just hammered the first 2K of the run. I just focused on my turnover because I know Nicky is a strong runner and I wasn’t sure how far behind she was.”
“Growing up in Bermuda I’m kind of a beach snob, so it takes a lot for a beach to impress me and I can tell you it’s gorgeous here, that water and white sand is beautiful. I really enjoyed the swim and seeing kangaroos, it definitely felt like Australia.”
Daniel Neilson and Jessica Simpson were the top overall amateur finishers, and they (along with the fastest amateurs in each division) were named XTERRA Australia National Champs and awarded a qualifying spot into XTERRA Worlds for their efforts.
Xterra Asia Pacific Men’s Results
1 Dan Hugo (RSA) 2:19:01 18:35 / 1:11:24 / 47:26
2 Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 2:22:49 17:45 / 1:18:11 / 45:25
3 Braden Currie (NZL) 2:23:46 19:17 / 1:16:12 / 46:40
Xterra Asia Pacific Women’s Results
1 Flora Duffy (BER) 2:33:07 18:28 / 1:22:28 / 50:24
2 Nicky Samuels (NZL) 2:40:07 18:26 / 1:26:14 / 53:49
3 Jacqui Slack (GBR) 2:44:29 20:53 / 1:25:56 / 56:01