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Ukraine’s Viktor Zyemtsev dominated the bike and run at today’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene to earn his ninth win at the distance and third at this race. The United States’ Meredith Kessler continued her stellar season by taking her fourth win of 2012. Behind the winners, both Canada’s Heather Wurtele and the United States’ Tim O’Donnell suffered with bike mechanicals and the United States’ Chris Lieto pulled out on the bike. O’Donnell was able to return to the race and finished second. Wurtele was ultimately disqualified for accepting outside assistance. Both Lieto and Wurtele are still in need of an Ironman finish to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
New Zealand’s Bryan Rhodes found himself in a familiar position as the first man out of the water. O’Donnell was the only athlete on the heels of Rhodes, heading into T1 seven seconds later. Two of the pre-race favorites, Zyemtsev and Lieto, started the bike with nearly three minutes to make up on the leaders. O’Donnell quickly took control and looked like he would hold the lead for the long haul, but shortly into the bike he experienced a mechanical issue and was forced to the side of the road at mile 25. While he was off of the bike, Lieto made up the gap. It looked like Lieto would charge off the front, but he struggled with the cold conditions and decided to ease up and eventually drop out.
With Lieto out of the race, Zyemtsev took over the top spot and built his lead into T2. The Ukrainian is normally known for his strong run, but it was his fast bike split of 4:47:55 that put him in the top spot to start the run. Behind him New Zealand’s Guy Crawford came into T2 1:57 back, Ukraine’s Anton Blokhin was 4:53 back and O’Donnell was 5:47 back. The question at this point of the race was whether or not Zyemtsev’s effort on the bike would affect his normally stellar marathon split. The answer to that question was no.
Zyemtsev maintained the gap all the way to the finish line, posting a marathon time of 2:49:37 and earning his ninth Ironman title in 8:32:29. O’Donnell easily finished second nine minutes later. American Matthew Russell rounded out the podium in third.
While the swim in an Ironman is rarely the deciding factor at the end of the day, Kessler had an impactful start to the race by exiting the water with a more-than four minute lead over Wurtele. Wurtele used her strength on the bike to quickly cut into Kessler’s lead. She caught up to Kessler around the midway point of the bike and started to build a lead of her own.
On the back half of the bike, Wurtele experienced a mechanical and reportedly borrowed a bike from another competitor to finish the 112-mile leg. Although she was able to get back on the road, she lost a significant amount of time to Kessler. The rest of the women’s field had trouble keeping pace with the pair of Wurtele and Kessler and before the marathon started it looked like one of the two would take the win.
Kessler headed into T2 with a 5:35 lead over Wurtele. The two kept the same pace throughout the first half of the marathon. Eventually Wurtele was pulled off of the run course and disqualified for using a bike that was not her own during the race. According to Ironman, USA Triathlon (USAT) officials referred to Article V: Cycling Conduct, 5.2 Forward Progress, of the USAT competitive rules, as the reason Wurtele was taken out of the race. The rule states, “participants shall not make any forward progress unaccompanied by their bicycle” and gives disqualification as the penalty for an infraction. With Wurtele on the sidelines, the race was left wide open for Kessler. She crossed the finish line at 9:21:44 to notch another Ironman victory.
Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – June 24, 2012
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Viktor Zyemtsev (UKR) 8:32:29
2. Timothy Odonnell (USA) 8:41:36
3. Matthew Russell (USA) 8:52:00
4. Kevin Taddonio (USA) 8:55:48
5. Anton Blokhin (USA) 8:59:49
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:21:44
2. Haley Cooper-Scott (USA) 10:01:25
3. Whitney Garcia (USA) 10:01:46
4. Rachel Kiers (CAN) 10:16:19
5. Beth Shutt (USA) 10:22:16