XTERRA World Tour championship series kicks off in Grabouw, South Africa this weekend
Some of the sports biggest names will be on the start line to ring in the New Year, highlighted by a classic duel between Stellenbosch stars Conrad Stoltz who has won this race five times, and Dan Hugo who has won it three times.
In the women’s race Carla Van Huyssteen and Carina Wasle are both trying to become the first woman to win three XTERRA SA Titles, but Bermuda Olympian Flora Duffy stands in their way.
According to Hugo, Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw is Stoltz’s race to lose. “That’s a tough position to hold, with youth in Stuart Marais, Brad Weiss and myself eager to capitalize. Richard Murray was phenomenal last year and will be missed. He set a high bar”.
“I think there are a number of guys who can challenge for the overall podium, on a good day,” says Marais. “To single out one, Conrad ‘Caveman’ Stoltz will always be the guy to beat. I love his approach to racing and admire him as a person. He is tough as nails and will be very difficult to beat”.
The iconic event, which draws thousands of XTERRA racers over the weekend between the full distance and short course races, has attracted the interests of a number of international XTERRA Warriors including: Duffy (Bermuda), Wasle (Austria), Bart Aernouts (Belgium), Simone Calamai (Italy), Rory Downie (Scotland), Daz Parker (England), Jan Kubicek (Czech) and Llewellyn Holmes (England).
According to reigning and two-time champ Van Huyssteen, it’s the local vibe, the competition and the amazing route that attracts her to the event each year. “Every part of the race has its own challenge. The mass start is tricky, while the mountain bike discipline is technical and the run is brutal on tired legs. I am just as excited about the sport of XTERRA as when I first started racing. For me, racing the World Series is a dream come true. Bermudan triathlete, Flora Duffy and Austrian XTERRA Warrior, Carina Wasle will be tough competition on the day, but in the end you pretty much race against the course,” says Van Huyssteen.
“I enjoy the Rock Garden the most,” says four- time XTERRA World Champion, Stoltz. “It is super technical. The scenery, if you manage to catch a glimpse of it, is stunningly beautiful with pink Fynbos and huge jagged white rocks standing on end. Totalsports XTERRA Grabouw is the biggest and for sure one of the best organized XTERRA events, along with XTERRA Italy, on the circuit. We’re really going to miss last year’s winner Richard Murray who’s racing on the road this year. I would have loved a rematch as I’m over my running injuries now. The local lads to look out for will be Dan Hugo, Bradley Weiss and I’m expecting a break through result from Theo Blignaut soon. XTERRA is the epitome of multi sport. It’s like triathlon, but it has the special X factor to it”.
For more info visit stillwatersports.com.
XTERRA SOUTH AFRICA ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS
|2004||Conrad Stoltz||Megan Hall|
|2005||Conrad Stoltz||Mari Rabie|
|2006||Conrad Stoltz||Michelle Lombardi|
|2007||Conrad Stoltz||Michelle Lombardi|
|2008||Dan Hugo||Eszter Erdelyi|
|2009||Lieuwe Boonstra/Felix Schumann||Carina Wasle|
|2010||Dan Hugo||Mari Rabie|
|2011||Dan Hugo||Carina Waslez|
|2012||Conrad Stoltz||Carla Van Huyssteen|
|2013||Richard Murray||Carla Van Huyssteen|