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Strong bike performances secured wins for both athletes
American Andrew Starykowicz rode his dominant cycling strength to a win at Ironman 70.3 San Juan, ahead of Bertrand Billard and Tim O’Donnell.
A lead group of five men, including 2008 US Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker, finished the swim through the tropical waters ahead of the rest. Starykowicz came out just a few seconds behind.
Once on the bikes, the Ironman bike course record holder went to work. Straight out of transition he hammered on the gas and quickly rode through Shoemaker, O’Donnell, Dirk Bockel and the others. Within 10 miles, he was clear. Starykowicz didn’t let off the gas.
With runners such as O’Donnell and Shoemaker behind him, a short lead wouldn’t be enough—he needed a massive gap in T2 to win the race. Starykowicz steadily build his advantage to nearly five minutes.
Shoemaker couldn’t match the more experienced non-drafting competitors on the bike and fell out of contention before getting a chase to use the run speed he has honed on the ITU circuit.
After loosing time in the swim, former Ironman world champ Faris Al-Sultan fell flat on the bike and was never in contention. O’Donnell suffered a crash late in the bike and lost time.
Despite the fall, O’Donnell and Billard left T2 with a bang, taking 45 seconds from the big-bodied leader in just over a mile. Although the catch may have seen inevitable at this early stage, Starykowicz settled into a pace he could sustain and the gap, although still shrinking, started to come down at a slower rate.
Billard and O’Donnell matched each other on the run, until the Frenchman took second place with 5k to go. O’Donnell came back on him during the final miles, but couldn’t regain the runner-up spot.
Starykowicz forced his way to the finish line with a 1:21:41 half-marathon split, winning by just 50 seconds.
All eyes and expectations were on Leanda Cave and Mirinda Carfrae, but it was ITU veteran Helle Frederiksen who dominated the race, while the current and former Ironman champions struggled to sub-par finishes.
Frederiksen led from gun to tape in her first Ironman 70.3, using a race-best swim to distance the field right from the start. And while an outstanding swim might be expected from an athlete with her ITU credentials, what came next was a shock. She tore through the bike course, leaving a slew of accomplished half-Ironman athletes in her trail. Only Svenja Bazlen of Germany could match her.
Bazlen caught Frederiksen mid-way through the bike and they were glued to each other to T2 and built a massive cushion over the rest of the field. Barring a catastrophe, the race for the win was down to two.
Frederiksen took the lead within the first mile and never looked back, holding Bazlen at a comfortable distance all the way through the finish tape. The German earned second and Camilla Pederson took third. American Kelly Williamson used her notorious Ironman 70.3 run ability to claw up to fourth with the fastest run of the day.
Cave finished 6th and Carfrae came in 14th following a crash early in the bike.
Ironman 70.3 San Juan results
1. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 3:50:12
2. Bertrand Billard (FRA) 3:51:02
3. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 3:51:19
4. Romain Guillaume (FRA) 3:52:52
5. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 3:53:53
1. Helle Frederiksen (DNK) 4:11:35
2. Svenja Bazlen (DEU) 4:13:24
3. Camilla Pedersen (DNK) 4:19:00
4. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:21:52
5. Margaret Shapiro (USA) 4:24:18