Spain’s Eneko Llanos and Great Britain’s Corinne Abraham captured the top podium spots today at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne.
Weather shortens the swim
High winds and rough water conditions forced race organizers to shorten the swim course to 1.9 km, and on top of that the weather caused several delays to the swim start. When all was said and done Australia’s Clayton Fettell (19:32) and American Amanda Stevens (21:53) were the first to reach the beach at Frankston.
Top 5 Pro Men (Swim)
1. FETTELL, Clayton Australia 00:19:32
2. LAMPE, Joseph Australia 00:19:34
3. BELL, Luke Australia 00:20:16
4. MUNRO, Casey Australia 00:20:29
5. LLANOS, Eneko Spain 00:20:30
Top 5 Pro Women (Swim)
1. STEVENS, Amanda United States 00:21:53
2. KESSLER, Meredith United States 00:21:54
3. MARANGON, Lisa Australia 00:23:34
4. HOOGLAND, Tenille Canada 00:23:41
5. LESTER, Carrie Australia 00:24:21
Vanhoenacker and Abraham crush the bike
There were several lead changes during the bike ride but Belgium’s Marino Vanhoenacker took control at the halfway point and finished the 180 km with a 4:22:32 split. Australian Craig Alexander (4:29:03) entered T2 next 5:07 down, followed by Australian Clayton Fettell (4:29:29) and Llanos (4:28:50) both 5:10 down to Vanhoenacker.
After her performance last year, many expected Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen to set the pace once again. However, despite a slow swim of 28:23, Abraham eventually made her way to the front and passed Steffen to put her stamp on the race with a top ride of 4:42:09. The ageless wonder Natascha Badmann, 46, entered T2 five minutes later (4:46:58) and then Steffen (4:53:17) a further two minutes back.
Impressive running from the champions
Vanhoenacker looked strong and good for the win for most of the run while Llanos and Alexander chased from behind. By approximately the halfway point, Llanos managed to separate himself from Alexander, and trailed Vanhoenacker by just over three minutes. Llanos continued to chop into Vanhoenacker’s lead and with 6 km to go, he simply blew by a struggling Vanhoenacker. Llanos finished with a stunning 2:43:35 marathon to take the win in 7:36:07, showing that he is a serious contender for the Kona title. Vanhoenacker held on to second (7:38:58) with a 2:51:28 run, and defending champion Craig Alexander ran hard right to the finish line (2:46:43) to stop the clock at 7:39:36.
In the women’s race, Abraham looked strong for the entire run and it was clear that no one was going to catch her. She finished with a 2:56:50 marathon to earn the first Ironman victory of her career in 8:10:56, and signaling the emergence of yet another British female long course star. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) started the run in sixth but closed with a 3:00:46 run to finish second in 8:26:40 – over 15 minutes behind Abraham! Steffen finished third in 8:31:22. Badmann took fourth in 8:34:37.
* the swim was shortened to 1.9km
Top 5 Pro Men
1. LLANOS, Eneko Spain 07:36:08
2. VANHOENACKER, Marino Belgium 07:38:59
3. ALEXANDER, Craig Australia 07:39:37
4. RAPP, Jordan United States 07:50:54
5. LEGH, Christopher Australia 07:52:29
Top 5 Pro Women
1. ABRAHAM, Corinne Great Britain 08:10:56
2. VAN VLERKEN, Yvonne Austria 08:26:40
3. STEFFEN, Caroline Switzerland 08:31:22
4. BADMANN, Natascha Switzerland 08:34:37
5. CRAWFORD, Gina New Zealand 08:37:23
Check out Ironman.com for the race day coverage.