With a slew of former champs in the field, it was Germany’s Sebastian Kienle and Leanda Cave who rode away on the bike and held on during the run to take their first Ironman World Championship 70. 3 titles. Visit Triathlete.com/Vegas2012 for post-race interviews and analysis.
After 1.2-miles of swimming in Lake Las Vegas no pro male was able to break away. Although American Andy Potts usually enjoys a lead over the main pack, that was not the case today. Potts exited just behind Australia’s Josh Amberger with no real advantage over the main pack. Key contenders like Tim O’Donnell (USA), Paul Matthews (AUS), Michael Raelert (GER), Bevan Docherty (NZL), Craig Alexander (AUS) and Greg Bennett (AUS) were all out of the water in the front pack.
With so many men starting the bike together no one could create a gap in the early miles. Kienle launched his plan of attack from the back of the race. He came out of the swim just over three minutes behind the lead pack and quickly went to work. At the turnaround point in Lake Mead National Park it was Potts leading the group of the main contenders. One of the pre-race favorites, two-time 70.3 world champ Raelert, received a drafting penalty and was forced to sit in the penalty tent for four minutes, ending his chance at regaining the world title.
As the front pack worked to sort itself out, Kienle decided to push the pace and make his move. He motored by the other athletes and started building a lead on his own out front. By the time bike turned to run Kienle had created a gap of nearly three minutes. Alexander, Potts, Amberger, O’Donnell and Docherty followed him onto the hot, hilly run course. Behind Kienle, Alexander, Docherty and O’Donnell pushed the pace and jockeyed to solidify the second-place position. Although Docherty was the early charger, it was Alexander who eventually broke away from the group. Despite the fast-running effort he was never able to get within striking distance of Kienle. Kienle’s 1:16:46 half marathon gave him the 3:54:35 victory. Alexander cruised in for second, with Olympian Docherty rounding out the 70.3 world championship podium.
The women’s race kicked off with 2010 70.3 world champ Jodie Swallow building a commanding lead out of the swim. She exited Lake Las Vegas in 28:06, with super swimmers Kelly Williamson (USA), Leanda Cave (GBR) and Meredith Kessler (USA) coming into T1 45 seconds back.
Once on the bike, Cave went to work to catch Swallow. She caught her fellow countrywoman at the 25-mile mark and slowly worked to build an advantage. Another pre-race favorite, American Heather Jackson, pushed her effort on the bike leg and found herself in the third position at the 25-mile mark.
Further back in the field, the race lost a few of the pre-race contenders. American Linsey Corbin got a flat tire and was unable to return to the race, while former 70.3 world champ Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) struggled with stomach issues and was forced to take it easy back to T2. One of the stronger cyclists in the race, Canadian Angela Naeth, reportedly suffered a crash and was on the side of the road for a bit.
Back at the front of the race, Cave continued to pedal hard and came into T2 with a lead of two minutes over Jackson and a lead of four minutes over last year’s champ Melissa Hauschildt. Cave carried her momentum from the bike to the run and held steady. While the women’s field shuffled behind her, she remained in the top spot and crossed the finish line at 4:28:05 win. Williamson posted the fastest run split of the women (1:23:19) and finished a closed second at 4:29:24. Jackson earned the final podium spot at 4:32:32.
Ironman World Championship 70.3
Henderson, Nev. – Sept. 9, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:54:35
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:55:36
3. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:56:25
4. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 3:56:35
5. Andy Potts (USA) 3:56:54
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:28:05
2. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:29:24
3. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:32:32
4. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:35:13
5. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:36:08