It’s not as though Germany’s two-time Ironman world champion Partick Lange had ever disappeared, but since his second Kona title in 2018, the German hadn’t shown the magic that we’d seen on the Big Island where he ran his way to the two big wins and a run course record one year followed by the course record the following year. Since then, though, he’d struggled at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt and then in Kona, where he dropped out of the race as his rival Jan Frodeno surged to a third title and a new course record.
In Tulsa today, though, Lange showed that he is very much back in the form that saw him win those world titles thanks to an all-around performance that sends a clear message to his competition that he’s ready to compete in all three stages of the race in Kona. After coming out of the water in sixth, 31-seconds behind Denmark’s Daniel Baekkegard, the German rode near the front through the entire bike along with a group that included Baekkegard, France’s Antony Costes (who crashed while in the lead at one point), countryman Florian Angert and, for a time, Italy’s Mattia Ceccarelli.
To give you an idea of just how impressive Lange’s 4:17:07 bike split is, the list of men who weren’t able to come close to bridging up to that lead group included the likes of former Challenge Roth champion and Kona runner up Bart Aernouts (BEL), Switzerland’s Jan Van Berkel, Great Britain’s Joe Skipper, recent Ironman 70.3 North American runner-up Sam Long, and Germany’s Nils Frommhold and Boris Stein. By the end of the bike Aernouts, Van Berkel, Norway’s Kristian Hogenhaug, Skipper, American Kenett Peterson, Switzerland’s Samual Huerzeleer, along with Americans Long and Andy Potts all found themselves about four minutes behind the leaders.
Lange quickly proved that while he can show his strength on the bike, he hasn’t slowed down at all on the run, quickly putting his stamp on the race and running clear of the rest of the field. By 10 km the lead was up to 1:43 on Costes, who managed to overcome the bike crash to put himself in the mix, but would eventually fade as the run progressed. By the halfway point the race was pretty much decided as Lange’s lead was up to 4:16, leaving the rest of the men to fight things out for the rest of the podium. At that point it was Baekkegard who was in second at 4:16 with Angert another 30 seconds down, with Van Berkel making a move at 5:35 down, and the scary running combination of Skipper and Aernouts running together 6:30 behind the German.
With less than 10 km to go things continued to be exciting – for second, that is – as Van Berkel moved into second, 5:05 down, Baekkegard in third at 6:13 and Aernouts at 7:57 and Skipper at 8:16.
Lange would finish the day in an impressive 7:45:22 (47:05/ 4:17:07/ 2:36:46), both earning the win and making a bold statement. Van Berkel would end up second in 7:50:58 (49:47/ 4:18:20/ 2:39:05) with Baekkegard rounding out the podium in 7:52:59 (46:34/ 4:17:52/ 2:44:35). France’s Denis Chevrot ran his way to fourth in 7:54:27 (46:50/ 4:27:08/ 2:36:03) with Aernouts finishing fifth in 7:55:13 (50:16/ 4:17:39/ 2:43:21).
At the finish line an emotional Lange talked about his mother, who passed away last year.
“I just want to tell my mother, she died last year of cancer – all the race I had her in my mind,” he said. “Her last words were that I want you to win multiple Ironmans. Coming here was emotional. I have such an amazing team around me – they pushed me to come here. This is maybe the fittest I’ve ever been. All of the energy that has been repressed during the COVID-19 pandemic all came out today. A friend of mine called me yesterday and said you will make a statement race. That’s what I did. I will give it my all to be in Kona and fight for the victory again.”
Full results can be found here.
Tough day for Beals
Canada’s Cody Beals started the day off with a solid swim and appeared to be on track to work his way towards the front of the field on the bike, only to get flats in both tires at the 15 km point of the ride.
“I spent several minutes on the side of the road and decided to make it a swim/bike training day,” he wrote in a text message after the race. “I put a lot into this one, so it’s pretty crushing. All focus on Ironman Couer d’Alene in five weeks now.”