Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz – winner of six of the last seven here in Richmond and two straight in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series – shared a goldmine of great pre-race quotes to reporters gathered in Richmond yesterday – exemplifying the positive tone and professionalism that has served himself and the sport so well through the years.
He shared the classic story of his first trip to the River City, “Back in 2001 I was just an innocent roadie thinking I had reached the pinnacle of triathlon going to the Olympic games and I came to Richmond for my first XTERRA. I borrowed this 35-pound soft ride bike a week before the race and came out just to see what XTERRA was all about, and I was blown away. Mike Vine won, I got second, Lebrun was 3rd, Steve Larsen 4th, and Ned Overend 5th. After the race Steve and Ned came over to me and said ‘welcome to XTERRA, great to see you’. The people were so friendly and I had such a good time that XTERRA became my goal. I really lost my heart to XTERRA in Richmond.”
But after the cameras were turned off and the recorders put away, he was solemn.
“It’s not the same without Dan,” he said.
Dan Hugo, the charismatic young South African that came “oh so close” to winning everything last year (he was second at the Pacific, Southeast, East, USA, and World Championship races) crashed hard on his road bike last week in Boulder, Colorado.
“Clavicle in 3 pieces, thoracic spine chipped...untimely dog crossing road while in TT position,” he shared through his twitter account along with a heart-breaking picture of him in a hospital bed.
It’s not the same without Dan because he’s part of the XTERRA Tribe, a very-real extended family that stretches around the world, and also because his promise seems too great to be so snakebitten.
At the XTERRA USA Champs last year, when the media spotlight was shining at its brightest because of Lance Armstrong’s participation, he was having the race of his life and destined to have the breakthrough win of his career. He didn’t know the savvy and speedy Nico Lebrun was in striking distance until he went flying by with two miles to go in the run. 2nd place.
At the XTERRA World Championship, despite a crash on the bike, he came up just 33 seconds short of winning a world title. 2nd place. To make it harder, just a month later race winner Michael Weiss was banned from competition for two years stemming from a 2005 doping infringement.
Last month, Hugo could not compete in the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships/XTERRA Southeast Championship because he did not technically qualify to race for Triathlon South Africa, a sad and crushing blow to his hopes of competing for the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series crown that started optimistically with a 3rd place showing at the West Champs.
Now this. Through it all, he has stayed positive. Three days ago he reported surgery on his clavicle was successful, “7pieces held by 12screws. MRI showed nothing new. So just 5 spinous processes broken. Checkout soon.”
“Would have been great to be in Richmond,” he wrote this morning. “With open trails it's going to be brilliant racing upfront between Stoltz, Evans, and Middaugh. Often in XTERRA the race scenario is unpredictable. Different line on the bike, unexpected stream crossing on the run, it’s much like life with its twists and turns. I'm often encouraging others to embrace and enjoy the unexpected. Seems I’m not so apt to doing so myself. The next few weeks will be patient and slow going, but all indications are thankfully fine for the future. Enjoy Richmond. I'll be following with interest.”
Likewise the XTERRA family will follow Dan’s recovery with interest, and look forward to welcoming him back to the starting line soon.