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The hot, dry weather that usually greets athletes at Lake Las Vegas this time of year was nowhere to be seen on Sunday morning. After a week of temperatures in the triple digits, race morning featured cooler conditions under pouring rain and thick, humid air. In the end it was two athletes who have won on this course before who earned their second 70.3 world championships. Kienle (the 2012 winner) and Hauschildt (the 2011 winner) overcame slower swims, found the lead on the bike and then kept the top spots on the run to take the wins.
Australia’s Josh Amberger led a group of 16 out of Lake Las Vegas in 23:22 to kick off the day. Andy Potts (USA), Joseph Lampe (AUS), Jan Frodeno (GER) and Tim O’Donnell (USA) were the men on his heels. Most of the main contenders were in that front group, but former winners Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) and Craig Alexander (AUS) were 30 seconds back as part of the chase pack. Defending champ Kienle kept his losses to a minimum and exited the water just over two minutes back of the leaders. To compare, last year Kienle came out of the swim over three minutes behind and rode his way to a massive lead by the time he reached T2.
Amberger, Potts, O’Donnell, Frodeno and Brent McMahon (CAN) pushed the pace early on the bike in hopes of keeping some of the pure runners and uber cyclist Kienle behind them. They were joined by others like Joe Gambles (AUS) and Bevan Docherty (NZL), but before long Amberger decided to make a statement and rode his way to a solo lead. By the turnaround point in Lake Mead National Park, Amberger sat up front alone with a minute lead over the main group, which at this point included Kienle. One notable athlete missing from that pack was Alexander, who sat in 25th at 2:11 behind Amberger.
Kienle stayed in that pack for a bit before deciding to replicate the move that gave him the title in 2012. Kienle rode away and went in pursuit of Amberger, passing him before they exited the national park. As Kienle pushed the watts, further back Alexander had a tough day overall on the bike, and sat at nearly nine minutes back and out of contention coming out of the park. He revealed after the race that he had received a four-minute drafting penalty early on in the ride.
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Alexander explained. “It was near the start, it was real wet; it was slick. It was even before we got up to the highway. And he [the official] warned me. I nearly ran up the back of Tim Don once and I swerved to miss a manhole and then I was looking down trying to get my foot into my shoe. And I was right up on him. I got what I deserved.” After that happened, he said, “I also didn’t want to get into everyone else’s way because I knew that in effect I wasn’t in the race anymore.”
Kienle arrived into T2 and took off on the half-marathon and as the clock ticked by it became a question of how big his gap would be this year. The deficit stood at 2:48 as Potts, Ruedi Wild (SUI), Gambles, Tyler Butterfield (AUS), Bozzone and several others poured into transition. Could Kienle show the same run form that gave him the win last year?
Kienle stayed out front as Frodeno and Bozzone took control of the second and third positions in pursuit of the defending champ. At the 5.5-mile mark, Frodeno went missing from action, leaving Bozzone in second position at 2:24 behind Kienle. Bozzone continued to maintain the fastest run speed of the field, but it wasn’t nearly enough to get the German within his sights.
Kienle’s 1:14:50 half-marathon was the exclamation point on an impressive day, giving him the 3:54:02 win and his second-straight 70.3 world championship title. Bozzone proved himself to be a top competitor once again after a tough couple of years of injury, finishing second in 3:56:06 with the fastest half-marathon of the day (1:13:38). Gambles outkicked a group of athletes at the end to earn the final podium spot.
“I can’t believe it,” Kienle told Ironman Live’s Matt Lieto. “I have to smack myself. This year it was even better than last year when I didn’t expect it. Of course there are expectations. I tried not to let them grow too strong. Especially in the last two or three weeks because I was starting to grow some momentum.. I’m so happy and I’m so happy for the rest of the guys on the the podium. It was honest; very, very hard racing.”
Five women, led by Australia’s Annabel Luxford at 25:56, made up the front group out of the 1.2-mile swim. Defending champion Leanda Cave (GBR), Tenille Hoogland (CAN), Laura Bennett (USA) and Kelly Williamson (USA) made up the rest of that front pack. Following those five a minute back was a group of four, including pre-race favorites Lisa Norden (SWE) and Svenja Bazlen (GER). 2011 winner Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) finished her swim at 29:19 with some work to do on the bike.
Luxford led the early miles of the bike before being joined by a fast-riding Bazlen, who finished in the runner-up spot at the 70.3 U.S. Championships in May. Later in the bike, Norden joined Luxford and Bazlan and the three of them worked to keep Hauschildt as far back as possible. Several of the pre-race favorites struggled to maintain the pace being set up front. Athletes like Cave, Heather Wurtele (CAN) and Williamson sat at more than three minutes back at the turnaround point.
Through 37 miles on the bike, Luxford, Bazlen and Norden held the lead with Hauschildt only 20 seconds back. By the time the women approached the Henderson area, Hauschildt had found her way to the front, with Luxford right behind her.
Hauschlidt had a mild crash with 3K to go, but was able to get back up quickly with minimal damage. Luxford was forced to serve a stand-down penalty as she came into T2, giving Hauschildt the lead into T2. Bazlen was third (1:14 back), Ryf was fourth (2:52 back) and Norden was fifth (4:10 back).
Hauschildt, a former elite runner, built on her lead with every step out of T2. Behind her, the race was on for podium positions as Luxford worked to hold off faster runners like Heather Jackson (USA), Catriona Morrison (SCO) and Williamson.
Hauschildt crossed the finish line at 4:20:07 thanks to a 1:21:37 run split. Jackson earned the second spot toward the end of the run, finishing in that runner-up finish in 4:25:19. Luxford held on for third in 4:25:59.
“That was my aim, to get into T2 first,” Hauschildt said at the finish line. “I could see them up ahead. There was four of them working together, at a legal distance. I was trying my hardest to catch them. I thought I’d sit in a bit. I got a bit worried and didn’t want to risk getting a penalty so I rode to the front.”
Ironman 70.3 World Championships
Henderson, Nev. – Sept. 8, 2013
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:54:02
2. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:56:06
3. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:56:55
4. Andy Potts (USA) 3:57:36
5. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:57:36
6. Kevin Collington (USA) 3:57:48
7. Leon Griffin (AUS) 3:58:17
8. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 3:59:36
9. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 3:59:42
10. Will Clarke (GBR) 3:59:56
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:20:07
2. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:25:19
3. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:25:59
4. Catriona Morrison (SCO) 4:27:50
5. Svenja Bazlen (GER) 4:27:52
6. Lisa Huetthaler (AUT) 4:29:58
7. Lisa Norden (SWE) 4:21:44
8. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:32:30
9. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:33:11
10. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:33:43
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