The highly anticipated showdown between duathlon racing star, Brand du Plessis, and multiple Xterra World Champion, Conrad Stoltz, played out in spectacular fashion at the first leg of the Momentum Health OatWell Dual Cross, powered by PeptoPro near Pretoria at the weekend.
Stoltz was admittedly anxious about tackling Du Plessis on his home turf and at altitude: “I Googled Brand and I knew he would put 1-2 minutes into me on the run, so it was always going to be a challenge,” said Stoltz, who lives in Stellenbosch when he’s not racing abroad.
As expected, it was Du Plessis that fired the first salvo, setting a blistering pace ahead of the experienced Stoltz on the first run over five kilometres at the Hakahana Trails venue, just west of Pretoria. But Stoltz consolidated his effort on the bike leg and caught Du Plessis at halfway during the 30km mountain bike segment.
“After I caught up to Brand I waited for the flat sections to attack him, seeing I’m double his size and probably couldn’t outclimb him,” explained Stoltz. “Then I noticed he was on a hardtail frame and realised he’d brought a knife to a gunfight!
“The course was super rocky and my dual suspension frame was way better suited to this terrain than his hardtail. It was a fantastically fun course but I'm sure half the rocks on earth were dumped in this one location, which suited me perfectly,” he smiled.
Stoltz went on to establish a big enough lead by the end of the bike leg allowing him enough of a cushion over the faster-running Du Plessis for the final 2.5km trail run segment. This saw Stoltz claim the victory in a time of 01:43:40. Du Plessis crossed the finish in an uncharacteristic second place in a time of 01:47:05. Third place went to Bryn Freeman.
“It’s great to be winning again and even better to be racing on home soil more, I’m looking forward to race the remaining three events in the series” said an elated Stoltz. Du Plessis was full of praise at the finish but already indicated he will be out for revenge at the second round of the series on June 20th .
The women’s race saw pre-race favourite, Andrea Steyn, return to form and her winning ways with an unchallenged effort to the finish at Hakahana trails.
“I loved the course even though it was super tough. I’m starting to gain confidence on the mountain bike and really starting to enjoy the bike leg,” said an elated Steyn. “I managed to get a small gap on the first run but struggled a bit on the bike, I was looking back all the time expecting to be caught,” she added.
But her concern was unnecessary as she remained out front for the rest of the race, clocking a winning time of 02:11:34.
The increasing popularity of the series is evident by the steady growth in participation. There were more than 1000 athletes in total taking part in the event. According to Fritz Pienaar of Advendurance, the organising company, one of the most appealing elements is the fact that the event caters for the entire family.
“We have a Brats category for the kids early in the day and then of course we have various distances for all fitness levels. There’s a race for every age and level of fitness and that’s really important in making these events a fun day for the whole family,” said Pienaar.
The series heads North of Pretoria for the next leg at Buffelsdrift near Roodeplaat Dam renowned for its terrific trails.
2015 Momentum Health DualX #1 Results
1st. Conrad Stoltz 01:43:40
2nd Brand Du Plesis 01:47:05
3rd Bryn Freeman 01:54:08
4th William Mokgopo 01:56:29
5th Nicholas Popich 01:57:44
1st. Andrea Steyn 02:11:34
2nd Nicolette Griffioen 02:15:56
3rd Adrienne Moolman 02:17:11
4th Wilmarie Du Plessis 02:17:11
5th Jessica Alcock 02:32:16