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Over 2,400 athletes from 54 countries gathered this morning in Wiesbaden, Germany (on the Rhine River close to Frankfurt) to test themselves on the one-loop swim course, hilly one-loop bike course and three-loop run through the city. Temperatures hovered in the low 70s, but it was humid and rained the night before—and a bit during—the race, leaving the bike course slick and foggy.
Written by: Erin Beresini
Two-time Ironman 70.3 European champion, Michael Raelert had to pull out because of an injury leaving the men’s title open for grabs. German Andreas Bocherer, this year’s IM 70.3 Switzerland champion, raced a gutsy race to victory today. Yvonne van Vlerken, defending champion from last year was favored to win, but could only muster fourth to today’s champion, Swiss Karin Thuerig.
Francesc Godoy from Barcelona, a 24 year-old World Cup racer, dominated the swim, exiting the water in 22:41, forty seconds over the chase pack of eight athletes led by Filip Ospaly. Andreas Bocherer, this year’s IM 70.3 Switzerland champ, attacked early on the bike, taking the lead from the young super-swimmer and setting the pace just as he did when he won Switzerland in June. Then came a surprise: Mathias Hecht, this season’s IM St. George champion, made a move to take the lead around mile 17. Hecht and Bocherer traded the lead throughout the bike, but Bocherer managed to pull away, starting the run with a lead of over 4 minutes. And then it became a guessing game of whether Bocherer would hold off Ospaly, known for his blistering fast half-marathons. But Bocherer wanted that win today, and he earned it, crossing the line in 4:08:36 to become this year’s IM 70.3 European champ. Ospaly and Martin Krnavek rounded out the podium in second and third respectively.
Germany’s Anja Ippach led the women in the swim, with Swiss athlete Simone Benz close behind. Ippach, 26, maintained her lead well into the bike. At 31 miles, she still rode at the front of the women’s race, with favored winner, Yvonne van Vlerken, riding almost five minutes behind in seventh place. But that all changed at 50 miles when uber-biker Karin Thuerig, who placed 6th at last year’s IM World Championship, took the lead, coming out of T2 first with Ippach ready to run her down. Ippach and Thuerig ran together, but Thuerig began to pull away at the halfway mark. With about 5 miles to go, Ippach looked like she was hurting, and Natascha Badmann, 6-time winner of the IM World Championships, was moving up the women’s field, picking off competitors as she made her way to the front of the pack. She passed Ippach, running in third place behind Wutti and Thuerig with just over 3 miles to go. Thuerig reached the last mile with a lead of over 5 minutes, taking the title of IM 70.3 European champion today in 4:45:47. Wutti and Badmann rounded out the podium in second and third respectively.
Ironman European Championships
Wiesbaden, Germany – Aug. 14, 2011
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Andreas Böcherer 4:08:36
2. Filip Ospaly 4:10:19
3. Martin Krnavek 4:15:02
4. Mathias Hecht 4:17:01
5. Dmitry Rosryagaev 4:22:06
1. Karin Thuerig 4:45:47
2. Eva Wutti 4:50:54
3. Natascha Badmann 4:51:39
4. Yvonne van Vlerken 4:52:27
5. Joanna Lawn 4:52:28
*Reflects professional times only.