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Lovato Sprints to Men’s Title; Jones Dominates Women’s Race in Rhode Island

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After two decades at the top of the sport, Aussie Michellie Jones still has it. The 2006 Ironman world champ took home the women’s title at Rhode Island Ironman 70.3 this morning, finishing 3:25 ahead of runner-up Desiree Ficker. Another tri veteran, American Michael Lovato did not have the luxury of a three-minute advantage en route to his win. Only 14 seconds separated the American from runner-up Richie Cunningham and third-place finisher Cameron Brown.

Jones exited the water with over two-and-a-half minutes on Ficker and six minutes on American Heather Jackson, who was racing in her first professional race after finishing second in Rhode Island last year. Jackson out-paced all of the ladies and most of the men on the bike with a 2:23:56 split. That ride was five minutes faster than Jones and put Jackson just behind the Aussie at T2. Ficker was third to transition, about three minutes behind the leaders. Jones easily pulled away from Jackson on the run and her 1:27:30 split put her at the line first in 4:23:55. Ficker posted the best half-marathon of the day (1:25:57) and finished in second. Jackson held off American Kim Loeffler for third.

After leaving T1 90 seconds behind the leaders, Lovato’s brilliant 2:10:30 ride gave him a narrow lead over Cunningham and Brown at T2. The American held off the pair of athletes from Down Under all the way to the finish, but by the narrowest of margins. Lovato broke the tape in 3:54:38, with Cunningham grabbing second 11 seconds later. Brown claimed third, finishing only three seconds back of Cunningham.

Rhode Island Ironman 70.3
Providence, R.I. – July 12, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Michael Lovato (USA)        3:54:38
2. Richie Cunningham (AUS)    3:54:49
3. Cameron Brown (NZL)        3:54:52
4. Wolfgang Guembel (CAN)        3:58:01
5. Christopher Thomas (USA)    4:02:55*

Women
1. Michellie Jones (AUS)        4:23:55
2. Desiree Ficker (USA)        4:27:20
3. Heather Jackson (USA)        4:33:38
4. Kim Loeffler (USA)        4:36:52
5. Amy Farrell (USA)            4:39:35*
*age-group athlete