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Bell, Stewart On Top At Lake Stevens

Athletes gathered on a cool and cloudy morning at Washington’s Lake Stevens, located about 35 miles north of Seattle.

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Athletes gathered on a cool and cloudy morning at Washington’s Lake Stevens, located about 35 miles north of Seattle.

Written by: Erin Beresini

This weekend was the last weekend for professional athletes to earn points toward competing in the 70.3 World Championship race in September. And with $15,000 in prize money on the line, the pros were out in full force.

Australian Luke Bell, who has won Lake Stevens twice before, was favored to win on the men’s side, but not without a fight against fellow countryman, Paul Ambrose. Despite Ambrose’s best efforts, Bell crossed the finish line first for his third 70.3 Lake Stevens win. Last year’s female champion, Canadian Melanie McQuaid, was back to defend her title against last year’s second place winner, American Tyler Stewart, but wasn’t up to the challenge. Stewart took the women’s win over 10 minutes ahead of her rival.

Men
Super swimmer Graham O’Grady led the men on the out-and-back swim with Gavin Anderson coming out of the water right with him. Race favorites, Australians Luke Bell and Paul Ambrose, were in the chase pack and quickly overtook the lead swimmers on the bike. Ambrose raced IM 70.3 in Boulder last weekend, placing third, so it was anyone’s guess if he still had it in him to win today. He and Bell came off of the bike within seconds of each other. Both wanted the win today, as Ambrose placed second here last year just 46 seconds ahead of Bell. But this year, Bell proved he is king of this course, crossing the line for his third win at Lake Stevens over a minute ahead of Ambrose in 3:56:50. Jeff Symonds rounded out the podium in 3:58:29.

Women
Jennifer Luebke led the women in the swim with Melanie McQuaid right behind and her rival, Tyler Stewart, over 1:40 back going into T1. But Stewart wouldn’t let a slow swim stop her from trying to win the race. She posted the fastest female bike split of the day, riding the 56 hilly miles in 2:31:05. McQuaid rode over nine minutes slower, coming in to T2 with a lot of time to make up on the run. Last year, only 20 seconds separated the women at the finish line, but the two women posted similar bike splits and Stewart ran slightly faster. Stewart got her legs spinning again today on the run, finishing in 4:27:31 and making McQuaid settle for second best.

TOP 5 MEN

1. Luke Bell 3:56:50
2. Paul Ambrose 3:57:53
3. Jeff Symonds 3:58:29
4. Graham O’Grady 4:00:33
5. Stephen Killshaw 4:02:29

TOP 5 WOMEN
1. Tyler Stewart 4:27:31
2. Melanie McQuaid 4:37:58
3. Haley Cooper-Scott 4:42:42
4. Mackenzie Madison 4:43:24
5. Christine Fletcher 4:44:10