Conrad Stoltz of South Africa made a triumphant ITU return, claiming the inaugural Cross Triathlon World Championship in Extremadura, Spain today. American Seth Wealing took silver while Swiss Olivier Marceau came across the finish line for the bronze.
Stoltz, a double Olympian, was back on the ITU circuit for the first since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. And the South African veteran ensured it was a dominating golden return.
The pre-race hype focused on an anticipated showdown between Stoltz and Spanish favourite Eneko Llanos. The pair owns a combined seven Xterra world titles between them. But the battle never really materialized after Llanos crashed on the 20km mountain bike course and fell out of contention for the podium.
Not surprisingly, British swim powerhouse Richard Stannard led the men out of the 1km swim. Llanos was just 11 seconds behind Stannard while Stoltz trailed by approximately 90 seconds.
But it was on the 20km mountain bike course that Stoltz put the race away and out of anyone’s reach. Scorching the course with the day’s fastest bike split, 3 minutes and 40 seconds faster than any other man in the field, Stoltz built an insurmountable lead.
First onto the 6km cross-country run course, Stoltz stayed in front for good and cruised to the line to break the tape at 1 hour, 26 minutes, 40 seconds to take the title of first ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion. Stoltz dominated the field, winning by almost a full minute over Wealing who was second across the line to take silver. Triple Olympian Marceau rounded out the podium, finishing a further two minutes behind Wealing.
American Josiah Middaugh came across in fourth place, followed by British veteran Richard Stannard who finished in fifth place.
Llanos got back on his bike after the crash and pushed on, finishing up in sixth place, tops for the home team.
Portuguese Olympian Bruno Pais recorded the fastest run split and was the only man to run sub-20:00 to finish in seventh place.
Portugal’s Hugo Ventura was crowned the Under23 World Champion.
The country was also golden in the junior category, as Filipe Azevedo led a gold-silver Portuguese sweep. Hugo Alves took the silver, finishing comfortably ahead of Spain’s Diego Paz Sobreira who claimed the bronze.