Belgian Frederik Van Lierde and German Silvia Felt both earned their first Ironman titles in Nice today at the seventh annual Ironman France.
Written by: Erin Beresini
At 5:30 a.m. it was already 77 degrees outside, with an expected high of 79 and five to 10 mile per hour winds. Add 66 percent humidity into the mix, and it was an interesting day for all racers.
Felt, 36, finished fourth at the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship last year, then finished fourth at Ironman South Africa earlier this year and third at Ironman 70.3 Mallorca last month. Van Lierde, 32, won a half Ironman in East London earlier this year.
Frederik van Lierde took control of the race right at the gun, leading the men’s swim. Fifteen minutes into the race, a chase pack of four formed, including women’s leader, Johanna Daumas, and a wicked fast age grouper. Van Lierde came out of the water over a minute ahead of favored contenders Paul Amey, Trevor Delsault, Francois Chabaud, Bruno Clerbout, and five-time winner, Marcel Zamora.
Van Lierde took his one-minute lead through T1 and onto the bike, where Zamora, Chabaud, Clerbout and Amey began to chase him down. At the 15km point, there is a hill with a 15 percent grade. As the men approached this climb, Van Lierde was still in the lead—but only by 10 seconds. Chabaud was closing in. By 20K, Chabaud took the lead, leaving Van Lierde to chase on his own and, Amey and Clerbout 3:20 behind.
At around 40K, Van Lierde and Chabaud began to ride together, climbing up the long Col de L’Ecre ensemble (that’s French for together), and putting time on their competition.
By the time Van Lierde and Chaubaud entered T2, 5.5 hours into the race, it was 79 degrees outside with 66 percent humidity.
Van Lierde started the marathon first and continued to dominate throughout the run. Zamora began the marathon over 17 minutes behind him. At 5K to go, Van Lierde’s lead was over eight minutes, and he was on track to set a course record.
Van Lierde’s won his first Ironman title in 8:28:30 (missing the course record by just under 3 minutes); he ran a 2:51:08 marathon.
Johanna Daumas dominated the swim, coming fourth out of the water among the men, leaving favored contenders, Martina Dogana and Alexandra Louison over five minutes behind.
At 15K into the bike, Daumas was still untouched; she led by at least four minutes. Chasing her down were Jeanne Collonge, Heather Gollnick, Martina Dogana and Alexandra Louison.
Daumas continued to dominate through the 56K mark of the bike, leading Collonge and Louison by over four minutes. But that’s where her lead started to end. By 70K, at the top of the Col de L’Ecre, Louison and Collonge had already closed the gap to just 30 and 47 seconds, respectively. Four hours into the race, Dumas briefly gave up her lead to Louison, but Dumas took it right back when Louison took a long fuel stop—and then began to fall off pace.
Daumas finished the bike in 5:22:36, coming first into T2 with a four minute lead on Collonge. But by just 3K into the run, Daumas lost her lead to running powerhouse Silvia Felt. The women’s race quickly became a close battle between Felt, Daumas and Britta Martin on the run. Felt continued to put time on her competitors, opening up a gap on Martin and Daumas. Dogana found an extra gear and started to push past her competition, running herself into second and pushing Daumas out of the top three.
Silvia Felt hung onto her early run lead, winning her first Ironman at today’s race in 9:34:31.
Nice, France – June 26, 2011
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:28:30
2. Francois Chabaud (FRA) 8:37:18
3. Marcel Zamora (ESP) 8:40:55
4. Paul Amey (GBR) 8:47:04
5. Sergio Marques (POR) 8:49:55
1. Silvia Felt (GER) 9:34:31
2. Martina Dogana (ITA) 9:45:56
3. Kim Loeffler (USA) 9:53:08
4. Johanna Daumas (FRA) 9:53:29
*Britta Martin, who originally finished third, has been disqualified for not serving a penalty.