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Spain’s Eneko Llanos and Great Britain’s Leanda Cave earned the wins at Sunday’s Ironman Arizona. Llanos’ victory was highlighted by a finish time of 7:59:38, while Cave ended her season with the first Ironman win of her career.
Over 80 pros and 2,600 age-group athletes took to the 61-degree F waters at Tempe Town Lake on Sunday morning for the 2011 Ironman Arizona triathlon. For the pros the race presented an opportunity to earn valuable points in the 2012 Kona Pro Rankings, and for the age groupers it was the chance to snag one of 65 slots up for grabs for the 2012 Ironman World Championship. Several professionals, including Spain’s Eneko Llanos, the United States’ Tim O’Donnell and Austria’s Michael Weiss, made the start in Tempe after failing to finish the Ironman World Championship race in Kona just six weeks prior. On the women’s side, the pre-race story was Great Britain’s Leanda Cave. Over the prior six weeks, Cave had finished third at the Ironman World Championship, first at Ironman 70.3 Miami and second at the ITU Long Course World Championships. She was joined at Ironman Arizona by several top female American pros, including Linsey Corbin, Meredith Kessler, Amanda Stevens and Kelly Williamson.
The men’s race started with a blistering swim performance by American John Dahlz. Four men, including Stephane Poulat (FRA), Benjamin Sanson (FRA), Joe Umphenour (USA) and Jeremy Jurkiewicz (FRA), were able to stay on Dahlz’s heels and enter T1 in the lead group. Several of the main contenders exited the water in the chase pack, approximately two minutes down from the lead. Llanos worked his way from that chase pack to the front of the bike, taking the lead around mile 45. Llanos continued to hold his position out front as the race behind him took form. Denmark’s Martin Jensen, O’Donnell, Poulat and Great Britain’s Paul Amey made up the first chase group, coming into T2 just under two minutes behind Llanos. Once on the run, Llanos continued to look strong, but it was Amey who had the steady stride. With several other athletes fading as the marathon wore on, the pair of Amey and Llanos continued to excel. The two men started the third and final lap running side by side. In the end it was Llanos’ day. His 2:46:09 marathon was enough to earn the victory and a new course record of 7:59:38. Amey held on for second, with Ukraine’s Viktor Zyemtsev running his way to third thanks to a 2:43:30 marathon.
Stevens kicked off the women’s race with a dominating swim, exiting with the main men’s group in 48:43. Next out of the water were Williamson, Kessler and Cave. Stevens held onto her lead throughout the entire 112-mile bike course, starting the run with a more than four-minute lead over Cave, Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby and Kessler. The efforts on the swim and bike proved to be too much as Stevens quickly faded, giving opportunity to her chasers. Cave once again proved she is a strong late-season racer, pushing into the lead by the end of the first lap of the run. Behind her, Kessler started to struggle, leaving second place open for Corbin. In the end it was Cave earning the Ironman victory. Corbin grabbed her cowboy hat and finished second for the third time in as many years. Kessler earned third.
Ford Ironman Arizona
Tempe, Ariz. – Nov. 20, 2011
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 7:59:38
2. Paul Amey (GBR) 8:01:29
3. Viktor Zyemtsev (UKR) 8:14:36
4. Torsten Abel (GER) 8:16:44
5. Stephane Poulat (FRA) 8:18:55
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 8:49:00
2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 8:54:33
3. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:00:14
4. Amanda Stevens (USA) 9:09:39
5. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:11:23