With all the excitement around the ill-fated Ironman California race on Sunday, many triathlon fans might have missed Jonathan Brownlee’s Ironman 70.3 debut in Cascais, Portugal. The younger Brownlee managed to nail the complete cycle of Olympic medals last summer, adding a relay gold to the silver he won in Rio in 2016 and the bronze he won in London in 2012.
Ditlev takes the day
Brownlee was part of a big group that led out of the water that included fellow short-course specialists Aaron Royle (AUS) and Casper Stornes (NOR). Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev, coming off his won/ got dq’d/ won again ordeal from Challenge Budva-Montenegro, was 1:22 back after the swim, but rode his way to the front group by 30 km into the bike. The Dane would lead off the bike ahead of Stornes (who would drop out during the run), with Brownlee leading Royle and France’s Clement Mignon about 1:40 behind Ditlev.
Through 10 km of the run Brownlee was gaining time on Ditlev and was only 46-seconds out of first, with Mignon at 1:07 and Royle 1:26 back, but 5 km later the Brit had lost a bit of time and found himself 50 seconds down with Mignon on his heels and Royle also starting to gain time. The wheels fell off for Brownlee over the last six km of the race as he would fade to sixth. Ditlev would hang in for the win in 3:47:50, with Royle charging hard to take second (3:48:34), 43 seconds back. The Netherlands’ Meno Koolhaas (3:48:45) would round out the podium thanks to the day’s fastest run – 1:09:46. In the end Brownlee’s 1:12:16 run split was only three seconds slower than Ditlev’s, but with so many speedsters on his tail he would find himself off the podium and 1:40 back with his 3:49:31 finish.
Pierre’s breakthrough day
Lucy Hall, the 2012 Olympian, led the women out of the water, but unlike many of her other races of late, the Brit had some company out of the water in the form of Norway’s Lotte Miller. Hall would lead off the bike with countrywoman Kimberly Morrison 2:29 back, while Marjolaine Pierre started the run 2:35 back in third. Switzerland’s Nina Derron was just over four-minutes back as she hit the run course.
By the halfway point of the run Pierre had moved to the lead, 10 seconds up on Hall with Derron moving into third, just over a minute behind. Hall, competing in her fourth half-distance race in as many weeks, would fade over the last 10 km as Pierre would cruise through to the win in 4:17:04. Brazil’s Luisa Batpista would run her way to the runner-up spot, crossing the line in 4:19:47, while Derron would finish third in 4:20:34. Miller would take fourth in 4:25:26, leaving Hall to finish fifth in 4:27:28.