Spain’s Eneko Llanos and Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen claimed tough wins to earn the titles of Ironman European Champions today in Frankfurt, Germany.
The race kicked off with a fiery start, with more than 20 men, led by reigning Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs, coming out of the first lap of the two-lap swim within 15 seconds of each other. At the end of the second lap, it was Great Britain’s Harry Wiltshire at the front. He exited the water in 46 minutes, with Christian Ritter (GER) and Daniel Halksworth (GBR) right behind him. The swim was not a deciding factor in this race as nearly every pre-race favorite came into T1 within 20 seconds of the leader. One athlete who did lose time on the 2.4-mile swim was reigning Ironman 70.3 world champ Sebastian Kienle (GER). His 49:25 swim split gave him some work to do to be in contention.
Defending Frankfurt winner Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) made a move similar to what he did at last year’s Ironman World Championship race. He immediately found the front position on the bike, but was joined by many of the top contenders, including Jacobs, Llanos, Andi Böcherer (GER), Michael Raelert (GER), in the early miles. Vanhoenacker used the first climb on the course to break away from the others. By the 89K mark of the bike, Vanhoenacker had built his lead to nearly three minutes. Behind him the main chase group thinned out to include Llanos, Böcherer, Jan Raphael (GER), Jacobs, Raelert, Axel Zeebroek (BEL) and Christian Kemp (GER).
By the time they reached T2, Vanhoenacker’s lead stood at five minutes over Llanos and Raphael. Jacobs and the rest of the chasers had more than eight minutes to make up on the Belgian. Vanhoenacker held a steady pace through the first miles of the marathon, but his lead didn’t last long. Raphael flew through the beginning of the run and found himself in the lead by the end of the first of four laps. Vanhoenacker crumbled early, and was forced to walk. Raphael’s early efforts proved to be too much and he was overtaken by Llanos and then Jacobs. With Llanos securely out front, the lead didn’t change to the finish line. The men behind him continued to shuffle into the final miles. Llanos cemented the 7:58:58 victory with a 2:44:12 marathon. This is Llanos’ second regional Ironman championship in 2013 (he also won the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships in Melbourne). Raphael regrouped and ran his way to second. The Netherlands’ Bas Diederen earned third against a tough field thanks to a strong run.
The story further back was the handful of Kona favorites who were struggling to make it to the finish line. Raelert was able to pull of a top-10 finish, crossing in seventh in 8:16:58. “It was not healthy what I did today,” Raelert told the crowd at the finish line. “I’d prefer not to do that to myself again.” Kienle also squeaked into the top 10, earning ninth in 8:18:38 and validating his Kona slot. Vanhoenacker finished his day in 8:34:00, while Jacobs struggled to across the line in 9:33:23. It wasn’t pretty, but by finishing the race Jacobs earned his right to defend his title in Kona.
Former 70.3 world champion Jodie Swallow (GBR) earned herself a solid lead from the early miles of the race. She exited the first lap of the swim with a 30-second advantage over Lucie Reed (CZE). By the end of the 2.4 miles her gap stood at nearly two minutes, with Reed and Pedersen as the closest pursuers.
Once on the bike, Swallow continued to keep up the fast pace and build her lead. By the time she reached T2 the gap stood at 5:45 over Pedersen. The Netherlands’ Mirjam Weerd was third into transition, with Switzerland’s Regula Rohrbach right behind her. From T2 on it became a question of whether Swallow would be able to hold off a fast-running Pedersen. Through 18K Swallow’s lead over Pedersen shrunk to 4:34.
Swallow’s long day out front came to an end around the 30K mark. Pedersen passed her and didn’t look back. Pedersen had to walk the final meters in the finish chute, but she was able to claim the sub-nine hour victory. She crossed in 8:56:01 to earn the win. Swallow also earned an impressive finish time, claiming second in 8:58:43. Kristin Moeller (GER) ran a marathon of 2:57:13 to storm her way to third.
Ironman European Championships
Frankfurt, Germany – July 7, 2013
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 7:58:58
2. Jan Raphael (GER) 8:07:19
3. Bas Diederen (NED) 8:12:07
4. Axel Zeebroek (BEL) 8:14:41
5. Andi Böcherer (GER) 8:15:13
1. Camilla Pedersen (DEN) 8:56:01
2. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 8:58:43
3. Kristin Moeller (GER) 9:01:55
4. Sofie Goos (BEL) 9:07:43
5. Liz Lyles (USA) 9:09:44
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