Bart Aernouts of the Uplace-BMC Pro Triathlon Team has finished fifth in today’s Xterra South Africa. Dan Hugo (South Africa) won the off-road triathlon (1.5k swim, 28k mountain bike leg and 11k run). His countrymen Stuart Marais and Conrad Stoltz completed the podium. Official final times are not yet available.
Flora Duffy (Bermuda) was the fastest woman. Carina Wasle (Austria) and Carla Van Huyssteen (South Africa) took second and third place.
This was Bart’s first Xterra. His eighth place finish in the 2013 Ironman Hawaii has ensured him a fairly straightforward qualification for the 2014 World Championships. It allows Bart to ease into the season, which meant there was room to fit the Xterra into his South Africa training camp.
After the race, Bart looked back on a successful experiment, “I am pleased with my fifth place, especially considering the strong field here today. Xterra is very specific. To compete for the top spots you need more MTB training than I can do. This means, for example, that I lost a lot of time on the descents. Xterra is very technical in terms of choice of material like the type of bike and tires. The run is also completely different. There is not one flat or asphalted meter. But I had a great time. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the race was organized. I couldn’t compete in the Ironman 70.3 South Africa in January because of illness, so this was a good opportunity to test my conditioning after a month of training in South Africa. This week I will return to Belgium to prepare for the short distance Abu Dhabi Triathlon.”
Earlier today, Bart’s teammate Liz Blatchford won the Husky Long Course triathlon in Huskisson (NSW, Australia), giving the Uplace-BMC Pro Triathlon Team its first win (read the complete Husky Long Course race report).
Uplace-BMC team manager Bob De Wolf is pleased with his team’s first results, “We started the year with the clear ambition to win. Just three races in, we have one victory and two podium spots. With the season still warming up, I am seeing Uplace-BMC athletes who are strong and eager. I feel confident going into the big spring races.”