Conrad Stoltz and Kathrin Mueller captured the XTERRA Denmark Championship in “Viking weather” at the beach and forest of Tisvilde.
The ominous gray skies opened up just as the race started at 1pm. The cold North Sea, somewhere around 17 degrees Celsius (63 Fahrenheit), was just the start of the challenge Mother Nature dished out for competitors. To follow was slick roots, soft sand, biting trees, treacherous, relentlessly steep hills, pouring rain and slinging mud that made for blinding conditions.
Nobody handled better than the “Caveman” – seven-time World Champ Conrad Stoltz who won his second major in as many weeks (it was XTERRA England last Sunday). By midway through the two-lap bike course he was up by almost two minutes and by transition it was more than four.
Interestingly, the last split he got was still 1:40 (from after the first lap on the bike) so he figured he better lay down the hammer early on the run jest he might get chased down by the younger guns behind him. As such, he made even more time after the first lap on the run, until he heard he was five minutes for the good.
“I got off the bike and heard I had 1:45 on three people, and thought I’m gonna have to run hard because who knows how fast guys like Ben are going to run. I didn’t know I had that time,” explained Stoltz, who collected his unprecedented 51st career XTERRA Championship win.
He shared his thoughts after the race, saying “During the swim the rain came pouring down, which changed everything. It made a relatively easy course quite technical, which made it fun for me. Today was much more technical and slippery than yesterday. I crashed one time and I could hear my neck go “crraaacck”. I just clipped a pedal because you can’t see with all the water and mud in your eyes. It was just a little bump in the trail and my pedal caught it and I went flying and I could hear my neck wrench. And the run course was very challenging, long sections sliding down my backside, holding on to trees. This was my first time here and I really enjoyed it, and would love to come back and support the sport here. People here are passionate about the outdoors and it’s great to be a part of this event. It’s really true to the XTERRA tradition where you can combine a great country and experience with exceptional racing. I think the race was fantastic. Muddy and cold and wet, you really have to thank the volunteers for braving these conditions as well. Hopefully it grows from strength to strength and XTERRA builds roots here in the Viking country.”
Behind Stoltz was a marvelous duel for 2nd, with Dan Hugo (7 World Tour wins this season), Ben Allen (2 World Tour wins this year and 7 last) and Francois Carloni who captured his first major in Greece this year.
Allen led out of the water, followed by Hugo and then Stoltz. About 6K into the bike Stoltz passed Allen, then Hugo caught up and those two rode together until Carloni went flying by during the second lap and took a one-minute lead on Allen and Hugo heading into the run. Ultimately both Allen and Hugo caught and passed Carloni (as did Jan Pyott to take fourth down the finish chute) with Allen finishing runner-up.
Here is how Allen tells it…
“Rough conditions like this during the swim are my specialty. I took a hard line to the shallow section at the end of the first lap because you can run faster than you can swim, so I swam to the shallow end then dolphin dived and that played to my advantage. Conrad caught me probably 6 or 7K into the bike, and I tried to stick on his wheel, which I did for a bit, but then he got away and Dan and I rode together the rest of the way. Francois came by riding like a man possessed on the second lap. He had a minute on us heading on to the run but started to fade and I caught him as we started the second lap. They say Mother Nature is your toughest competitor in XTERRA and she nailed every one of the competitors out there to the ground today. I am absolutely tired, hurting, my legs are stinging, and I’ve got mud in every crack and crevice of my body. Those hills, you couldn’t run down them and you couldn’t run up them. It was like a slippery slide. I just slide on my bum all the way down to the bottom, which was the quickest way. This was a cool race atmosphere, got some Euro disco-tech blasting, ridiculously challenging weather, but a fantastic day, and a really good overall experience.”
Fair to say the conditions were gnarly, dark and wet, but it did not dampen the spirit of this competitor group, clearly something of note about the Viking culture. Here’s how Dan Hugo explains it…
“Everybody seems to be smiling, loving it; they are used to the cold and rain. I mean, nobody seems to be up in arms about it, but I can tell you this is not summer. I can show you summer, and this isn’t it. You could hardly see out your eyes it was that muddy. That I found as tough as anything, the visibility. It was touch, super tricky. Assure you it was really tough for the first-time XTERRA athletes today. It was super slippery, unclipping around corners. On the run, sitting down on my haunches, hands behind me like rudders. On the ups clawing with all fours. It was pretty messy. Stoltz, he’s got great race form at the moment and with these sorts of conditions he is a true genius. When it’s like this, he is unmatched. Still, it was fun to race with Ben and Carloni and be in the same space. I struggled a bit, but knew it would be the case. Still, to race in Denmark is fantastic. The forest is beautiful, especially being here by the coast and all its history. You can see the fisherman’s cottages. Races with culture like this float my boat.”
|Place||First name||Last name||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
|Place||First name||Last name||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
In the women’s race Kathrin Mueller put an exclamation point on her XTERRA European Tour Championship with her sixth win of the season against the best in the business as the top five women in Europe were in the race.
She came out of the water and rode the first lap with Jacqui Slack, then grabbed on to the wheel of two-time Euro Tour champ Helena Erbenova on the second lap. The two took off on the sandy run at the same time but Mueller sprinted out, forced a small gap, and never looked back.
“Yesterday I really loved this course in dry conditions, but today it was too technical for me. I had difficulties on the bike," said Mueller. " The run was fantastic though, like a monkey course. I sprinted the first 2K to try to get away from Helena and it worked.”
When asked what her secret to success has been this season, Mueller replied, “I don’t know, it’s a secret to me too. I’m happy in my life, I have really good conditions to train at home in Freiburg, the atmosphere with my family and friends is really good and I think the secret is just being happy and relaxed and enjoying racing.”
Mueller will now focus her attention on good preparation for Maui and the ultimate goal of winning an XTERRA World Championship.
Erbenova finished second on the day and second in the XTERRA European Tour after standing on the top step in 2012 and 2013. Jacqui Slack had a magnificent day in third, Carina Wasle was fourth and Renata Bucher fifth. In the final Tour standings, it went Mueller-Erbenova-Wasle-Slack-Bucher.
The day was defined by athletes with the Viking spirit – resilient and steadfast in their determination to conquer this course where most would rather curl up in bed with a book or a movie.
“It’s Viking weather, we’re Viking people, this is how we do it,” explained race announcer and Danish cycling legend Torbjørn Sindballe.
FINAL EUROPEAN TOUR ELITE TOP 10 (Counting six of 11 majors)
2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
The XTERRA Denmark Championship is the 32nd of 35 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 26, 2014.
|Date||Race||Location / Pro Winners|
|23-Feb||XTERRA South Africa||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|8-Mar||XTERRA Motatapu||Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels|
|15-Mar||XTERRA Philippines Championship||Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher|
|29-Mar||XTERRA Guam Championship||Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher|
|29-Mar||XTERRA Costa Rica||Leonardo Chacon / Shonny Vanlandingham|
|30-Mar||XTERRA Great Ocean Road
|Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack|
|5-Apr||XTERRA Saipan Championship||Ben Allen / Carina Wasle|
|12-Apr||XTERRA New Zealand Championship||Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros|
|13-Apr||XTERRA West Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy|
|26-Apr||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|3-May||XTERRA Malaysia||Dan Hugo / Jacqui Slack|
|17-May||XTERRA Southeast Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy|
|24-May||XTERRA Mauritius||Sam Gardner / Karyn Southgate|
|24-May||XTERRA Spain Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Helena Erbenova|
|1-Jun||XTERRA Portugal||Ruben Ruzafa / Coralie Redelsperger|
|8-Jun||XTERRA Brazil Championship||Felipe Moletta / Sabrina Gobbo|
|15-Jun||XTERRA East Championship||Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy|
|21-Jun||XTERRA Greece||Francois Carloni / Kathrin Mueller|
|28-Jun||XTERRA Switzerland Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|29-Jun||XTERRA Norway||Dan Hugo / Cecilie Overbye|
|5-Jul||XTERRA Ontario||Sean Bechtel / Heather Pady|
|6-Jul||XTERRA France Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|6-Jul||XTERRA Victoria||Brent McMahon / Melanie McQuaid|
|6-Jul||XTERRA Freedom Fest||Sergio Florian / Laurel Dudley|
|13-Jul||XTERRA Sweden||Braden Currie / Helena Erbenova|
|19-Jul||XTERRA Mountain Championship||Josiah Middaugh / Chantell Widney|
|26-Jul||XTERRA Italy Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Helene Erbenova|
|2-Aug||XTERRA Mexico Championship||Irving Perez / Fabiola Corona|
|9-Aug||XTERRA Czech Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|16-Aug||XTERRA Germany Championship||Ruben Ruzafa / Kathrin Mueller|
|17-Aug||XTERRA Canmore||Mathieu Signoretty / Brittany Webster|
|24-Aug||XTERRA England||Conrad Stoltz / Emma Garrard|
|31-Aug||XTERRA Denmark||Conrad Stoltz / Kathrin Mueller|
|31-Aug||XTERRA Quebec||Lac Delage, Quebec, Canada|
|7-Sep||XTERRA Sleeping Giant||Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada|
|20-Sep||XTERRA USA Championship||Ogden/Snowbasin, UT|
|26-Oct||XTERRA World Championship||Maui, Hawaii|