Switzerland’s Imogen Simmonds returned to her winter training grounds for a big win that caps off a spectacular season, while countryman Ruedi Wild captured his third Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) title in Phuket, Thailand today.

Imogen Simmonds is all smiles as she caps off a stellar season with her first win at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Simmonds dominates from start to finish

Despite the fact that she’s coming off a season that includes a runner-up finish at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, a third-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice and a 12th-place finish in Kona, somehow Imogen Simmonds managed to enter what is arguably her home race without feeling any pressure. Simmonds trains here in Phuket through the winter and is a local hero thanks to the success she’s enjoyed in her three-year pro career.

They’re off – the pro women run down the beach to the first leg of the race in the Adaman Sea. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.
Emma Pallant had a strong swim, staying close to Imogen Simmonds and Laura Wood as she dove into the lagoon for the final 500 m of the swim. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

Even if she didn’t think she was the favourite, she lived up to that role in style, leading from start to finish to take her first win at the LPT, despite coming off a big season and race in Kona, after which she took two weeks off.

Simmonds powered clear on the bike. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

“A couple of weeks off and a couple of weeks putting down the hammer paid off today,” she said after the race. “I swam stronger than I normally do and managed to come out of the water in the front. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I knew that I needed to keep pressure on the bike. I used the hills to my advantage and came off the bike with a decent gap to second.”

In second was Emma Pallant, who had a strong swim, but couldn’t make up any time on the fast riding Simmonds, who gained over six minutes on the bike. While Pallant ran almost 90 seconds faster, Simmonds was never threatened.

The day’s fastest run ensured Emma Pallant held on to second. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
Dimity-Lee Duke used the LPT as a tune up for Ironman Western Australia next weekend.

Australia’s Dimity-Lee Duke, who will toe the line at Ironman Western Australia next weekend, took third.

“It’s my home race, for sure, but I didn’t let the pressure of it get to me,” Simmonds said after the race. “I’ve had such a busy, and successful (for me), season, so I looked at this like the cherry on the top of the cake.”

Imogen Simmonds wraps up a stellar 2019 with a big win at the LPT. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Top 5 women:

Place Name Country Overall 1.9 km Swim 50 km Bike 12 km Run

1

Imogen Simmonds SUI 2:33:14 0:26:32 1:16:49 0:47:32
2 Emma Pallant GBR 2:39:31 0:27:51 1:23:15 0:46:03
3 Dimity-Lee Duke AUS 2:46:12 0:29:10 1:22:28 0:51:50
4 Sylvia Gehnboeck AUT 2:50:54 0:30:59 1:21:10 0:55:56
5 Laura Wood NZL 2:54:36 0:27:09 1:28:53 0:55:57

Wild runs to the win

After getting hit by a car in August and breaking his collar bone, two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion (and three time LPT champ) Michael Raelert wasn’t sure how he would fare at the LPT. Early on it looked like things would be OK – with just a couple of months training under his belt, the German led the way out of the water.

Michael Raelert leads the men out of the water as he runs up the beach towards the final 500 m of the swim which takes place in a lagoon. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

Wild was only a few seconds down, though, and quickly joined Raelert at the front of the race. The two Europeans powered away from the rest of the field as they hit the technical and hilly 50 km bike course.

Michael Raelert waves to a group of students who lined up across the road from their school to greet the competitors. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

“I am very happy with my performance – the race happened how I thought it would,” Wild said. “Michael pushed very hard in the swim and on the bike and I knew the longer I could stay with him the better my chances were to come away with the win.”

“I knew that I wouldn’t be really fit for the run, so I tried to rid of Ruedi, but he is smart and he was always prepared when I tried to make any moves,” Raelert said later of his attempts to get clear.

As the leaders hit the hill section of the course, Raelert pushed the pace, but Wild was able to mark the move. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

Raelert pushed the pace early on, but despite feeling uncomfortable, Wild was able to stay close. Raelert tried again as they hit the hilly section of the course, to no avail. He made one last attempt to get clear on the final climb, but once again Wild was able to stay with the German, setting up a 12 km foot race for the win.

Ruedi Wild dominates on the run course. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

“I had really good legs on the run – I made a gap and then I held it to the very end,” Wild said. “Once we came off the bike together I was pretty confident about my run and I knew I had a pretty good chance to win the race.”

Michael Raelert hangs on to take second. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

That confidence was justified – Wild broke away early and was never challenged, leaving Raelert to hang on to the runner-up spot. Poland’s Krzystof Hadas blasted through the run to move himself to third.

Krzysztof Hadas used a 4o:59 run split to move himself to the final spot on the podium. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

With the win Wild joins Raelert as a three-time winner of the prestigious event. The only man with more titles, Massimo Cigana, who has won here four times, struggled through the day, but got to the finish line in eighth.

A big day for Switzerland as Ruedi Wild takes the men’s race. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Men’s top 5

Place Name Country Overall 1.9 km Swim 50 km Bike 12 km Run
1 Ruedi Wild SUI 2:21:07 0:23:41 1:11:22 0:43:56
2 Michael Raelert GER 2:22:34 0:23:30 1:11:28 0:45:31
3 Krzysztof Hadas POL 2:26:20 0:26:20 1:16:47 0:40:59
4 Tim Meyer GER 2:27:26 0:26:20 1:15:53 0:42:49
5 Per van Vlerken GER 2:27:43 0:24:51 1:15:10 0:45:35

 

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