Defending Ironman world champion Anne Haug (GER) showed her running talent again with a dramatic come-from-behind victory at Challenge St. Polten, catching Switzerland’s Imogen Simmonds just before the finish line for a dramatic win at the Austrian race today. It was a good day for Germany at the top of the podium as Frederic Funk blasted through the bike to create a lead he wouldn’t relinquish in the men’s race.
Simmonds dominates the bike, Haug the run
Lance Armstrong coined the phrase “bike for show, run for dough,” and Haug proved that to be true. Anna-Lena Best-Pohl led out of the water, but wasn’t too far ahead of strong cyclists Lisa Norden (SWE) and Simmonds, who quickly put their stamp on the race by riding to the front, opening up a lead of 2:30 on a chase group that included Haug by 25 km into the bike course. Simmonds would eventually bike clear of Norden – no mean feat as Norden won the Swedish national cycling championships a couple of years ago – but Haug also showed her cycling chops by closing the gap to 90 seconds with 30 km of cycling to go. Simmonds found another gear, though, and ended up in T2 with a three-minute lead on the German, which turned to four when Haug got a penalty in transition.
Haug would use the amazing run speed that saw her take the Kona title in 2019 to track the Swiss athlete down just before the finish line, taking the win in 4:20:17, just 13 seconds ahead of Simmonds. There was another sprint for third nine minutes later as Maja Stage-Nielsen (DEN) and Laura Siddall (GBR) raced for third, with the Dane grabbing the last spot on the podium.
Funk leads all-German podium
After coming out of the water in the chase pack about 40 seconds behind swim-leader Timo Hackenjos (GER), Funk managed to ride away from the likes of super-cyclist Magnus Ditlev (DEN), not to mention other talented cyclists who were near the front early on in the bike including Spanish long-distance world champion Pablo Dapena and two-time Ironman 70.3 world champ Michael Raelert. The pace was so quick that German former Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle was never able to ride his way to the front of the race after coming out of the water about 2:30 back. (On Instagram, the ever-classy Kienle expressed his disappointment with his race, suggested people add the event to their bucket list and congratulated the men in front of him)
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By the end of the bike Funk’s lead was up to four minutes on countrymen Philipp Bahlke and Jan Stramann. Funk added to his lead through the run, eventually getting to the line in 3:44:49, almost five minutes up on Stratmann (3:49:25). Another German, Maurice Clavel, managed to run himself to the final spot on the podium (3:49:56), just a few second up on Dapena (3:50:04).
You can find results from today’s race here.