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Beaten Stoltz still rules

Defending champion Conrad “Cave Man” Stoltz, had to settle for second best as he was chased down by France’s Nicolas Le Brun at the US Xterra Championships in Utah on Saturday.

Le Brun caught Stoltz on the last major climb in the last four kilometre run after The Caveman shot into the lead within the first 3km of the mountain bike leg after Seth Wealing climbed out of the water with a 40-second lead in the 1600m swim.

More than 90seconds later Le Brun and Josia Middaugh emerged from the water and started to work together to try and catch the flying Stoltz. After 15km, Stoltz had increased his lead over Middaugh who was falling back, but Le Brun had made up some 20 seconds on the three-times Xterra World Champion.

Le Brun went out hard on the climbs but took it easy on the descents, a tactic which seemed to be paying off, as the 30km bike leg seemed to be more climbing than anything else. A total of 3000 feet of uphill certainly was a course made for the 2005 Xterra World Champion who grew up climbing around ski resorts in the French Alps.

On the other end of that spectrum is Stoltz, who has the power to climb but his solid 6-foot-3-inch frame requires a lot more effort to propel up a mountain. “This is the anti-Conrad course,” explained Stoltz. Nevertheless, any time the trail got flat and the very few times it went down Stoltz pinned it and even his fellow pros call describe his fearless riding as “simply amazing”.

The dare-devil approach paid off as Stoltz was able to take a further minute lead out into the transition for the final leg. Unfortunately, the run also proved to be mainly uphill and Le Brun gained on Stoltz at a rapid rate.

At mile 1.3 Lebrun had gained 13 seconds, in the next 15 minutes he made up the other 47sec, and for good measure added another 52 ticks to cross the line with a winning time of 2:21:57 compared to Stoltz’s 2:22:49.

“Maybe for the first time ever I’m content with second,” said Stoltz, who with the finish secured an unprecedented seventh XTERRA US Pro Series title. “Considering the injuries I had this year and my sketchy training as a result I’m very happy to keep it all together and still win the series. Plus, Nico is just a Billy goat, and he was the strongest guy out there today.”

TOP PRO MEN

Place, Name, Age, Pts, Purse
1 Nico Lebrun 35 France 2:21:57 100 $2,500
2 Conrad Stoltz 35 South Africa 2:22:49 90 $2,000
3 Josiah Middaugh 30 Colorado 2:26:08 82 $1,500
4 Mike Vine 35 Canada 2:26:40 75 $1,200
5 Seth Wealing 30 Colorado 2:30:44 69 $900


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