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It was a record-setting day at Ironman France in Nice, despite weather conditions that went from sunny to rainy to cool to windy. Both Mary Beth Ellis (USA) and Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) broke the course records to win their respective races. On the men’s side, a fiercely fought battle meant Bart Aernouts (BEL) also broke the old course record, but it was only good enough for second place.
Van Lierde got to the front early and spent most of the day in the lead on his way to his third win at Nice. The Belgian came out of the water in 48:00, just one second back of the race leader Clemente Alonso-Mckernan (ESP), who finished the swim in 47:59. Anthony Pannier (FRA) followed in 48:17 and hung close behind Van Lierde on the bike before eventually being forced to drop out. About a minute behind Pannier was Mathias Hecht (SUI), who also failed to complete the run. Just after 51 minutes came the majority of the men’s pro field in a large group that included Bart Aernouts (BEL), Bruno Clerbout (BEL), Jose Jeuland (ESP) and Olivier Marceau (SUI).
On the bike, Van Lierde simply pulled away with a professional field race-best of 4:33:29. Aernouts worked to make up for a slow swim with a 4:38:29 and entered T2 in second, just over eight minutes behind Van Lierde. The fastest bike of the day actually went to age-group racer Antonio Colom Mas (ESP), who broke Van Lierde’s old bike record with a 4:30:03 before falling off on the run. Because the amateurs start after the pros, however, Alonso-Mckernan was third into T2, followed by Reto Stutz (SUI).
Although it looked like Van Lierde had the race tied up, Aernouts refused to give up. On the run, he slowly cut into Van Lierde’s lead, going on to run a race-best 2:37:01. But, it wasn’t enough to catch Van Lierde, who ran a 2:42:07 on his way to his third title in 8:08:59. Aernouts crossed the finish in 8:12:28. Both of them broke Van Lierde’s old course record of 8:21:51. Alonso-Mckernan ran 2:48:52 to finish third in 8:35:52, while Clerbout worked his way up through the ranks with a 2:48:37 run to cross the line fourth in 8:43:17. Age-group racer Nicolas Beyeler (SUI) was fifth in 8:50:53.
In the women’s race, it was the Mary Beth Ellis show. Though the field was a small one—just five women started—it was a fast one, with Ellis breaking Tine Decker’s record by just over three minutes as Decker looked on 11 days after giving birth. Ellis was first out of the water in 51:22, followed by Lucie Reed (CZE) in 51:29. Delphine Pellletier (FRA) and Jeanne Collogne (FRA) came into T1 next in 55:33 and 55:40.
On the bike, Reed fell back, simply unable to keep up with the American. Ellis went on to bike a blistering 5:11:40. The second-fastest bike of the day went to age-grouper Catherine Faux (GBR), who biked a 5:11:45 to be in second place going into the run. But, because the amateurs start after the pros and compete in a separate race, the second person to actually enter T2 was Collogne, who biked a 5:17:38 to finish the ride nearly six minutes behind Ellis. Pelletier biked a 5:19:43 to start the run two minutes behind Collogne.
Pelletier ran the fastest marathon of the day (3:00:42) as she attempted to chase down Collogne. But, the two were evenly matched, with Collogne running a 3:00:51 to cross the line in second in 9:20:51. Pelletier was third in 9:22:37, just barely holding off Faux—who she couldn’t see, since the speedy amateur started at a different time. Faux ran a 3:04:47 to take the fourth spot overall in 9:22:51. Lisa Ribes (GBR) passed Reed early on the run with a 3:02:08 to take fifth in 9:36:43.
But, it was all about Ellis. Her lead couldn’t be overcome and the only question was if she would break the course record. Her 3:04:06 run brought her across the finish line in 9:12:54, solidly ahead of second and of the old course record of 9:16:05.
Nice, France – June 23, 2013
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile bike
1. Frederik Van Lierde – 8:08:59 (COURSE RECORD)
2. Bart Aernouts – 8:12:28
3. Clemente Alonso-Mckernan— 8:35:52
4. Bruno Clerbout – 8:43:17
*Nicolas Beyeler, Nicolas – 8:50:53
1. Mary Beth Ellis – 9:12:54 (COURSE RECORD)
2. Jeanne Collonge – 9:20:51
3. Delphine Pelletier – 9:22:37
4. Lisa Ribes – 9:36:43
*Catherine Faux – 9:22:51
*Age-group athletes with top-five finish times.
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