The course was short so the times won’t go down as records, but their winning margins over some top competition should be enough to cement Patrick Lange and Anne Haug’s performances at Challenge Roth today as amongst the most impressive races of 2021. Both were decided to compete in Roth for the first time this year after the Ironman World Championship in Kona was postponed to February, and made the best of their debut appearances.
Lange finished the day more than 11 minutes up on a former Roth winner, Nils Frommhold, while Haug was almost 32 minutes up on runner-up Laura Siddall, who was second here the last time a defending Kona champ won (Daniela Ryf in 2017).
Another all-around day for Lange
Lange won in Tulsa earlier this year, pushing the pace on the bike then finishing the day with a solid run for the win there. Here in Roth the two-time Kona champ followed a very similar race plan, coming out of the water behind Australia’s Nick Kastelein. The lead swim group also included Great Britain’s Thomas Davis, Germany’s Philipp Bahlke and New Zealand’s Braden Currie.
Sebastian Kienle was well back after the swim and never looked himself on the bike – he would eventually drop out as he continues to struggle with his achilles tendon issues.
On the bike it was former cycling pro Ruben Zepuntke (competing in his first long-distance race) who drove the pace after coming out of the water just 10 seconds behind Lange. As we’re used to seeing here at Challenge Roth, the bike went out quick and turned into a battle of attrition. Currie was quickly dropped from the lead group that was hanging on to Zepuntke that included Frommhold, Lange, Dreitz and Bahlke. Eventually the former cyclist made his move and started to pull clear of the rest of the men, with Frommhold and Lange the two men able to keep the gap to under four minutes as even the defending champion Dreitz couldn’t match the pace of his two Team Erdinger team mates. Zepuntke blasted through the 170 km bike (there are some reports that it might even be shorter than that) in 3:46:43 with Frommhold and Lange riding 3:50:30 and 3:50:32 respectively.
Zepuntke started the run ahead, but it wasn’t long until Lange had surged to the front of the race. (Zepuntke would struggle through the marathon to finish well back.) Lange was never even remotely challenged as he cruised through a 2:38:30 marathon to take the win in 7:19:28. Frommhold would take second in 7:30:31 with another German, Felix Hentschel using the day’s fastest marathon, a 2:35:40, to take third in 7:31:12.
Haug hammers for huge win
Anne Haug laid it all out there today, crossing the line and needing all of her 30-minute-plus wait at the line to recover enough for the flower ceremony. The German defending Ironman world champ came out of the water in second place behind Great Britain’s Fenella Langridge, with Hanna Maksimava (BLR), Chloe Lane (AUS) and Canada’s own Rach McBride just a few seconds back heading out on to the bike. Aussie Sarah Crowley was just over a minute doan off the bike, while Brit Kimberly Morrison was just under five minutes down. Canada’s Jenny Fletcher was just over six minutes behind as she started out on the ride.
On the bike it was Langridge who initially went to the front, but Haug started pressing the pace before the 20 km point of the ride and started to pull clear of all the women. By 84 km Haug was almost six minutes up on Langridge, 7:30 up on Morrison and Crowley, and 8:32 ahead of McBride. The lead kept growing and by the time she started the run, Haug was 12 minutes up on Langridge, over 13 minutes ahead of Crowley and Morrison, with McBride still in fifth at 16:21 behind.
From there the lead grew, making it pretty obvious Haug was on her way to a debut win in Roth. Other than waiting to see if Haug could go under eight hours on the shortened course (which she did – bear with us), the excitement of the day came in the race for second. Sixth off the bike, 17:21 behind Haug, Siddall worked her way through the field to move into second ahead of Langridge at the 38 km point of the run.
Haug came across the line in 7:53:48, and had finally recovered from her huge effort when Siddall flew into the famous Roth finish arena to take second in 8:25:24, Langridge would end up third in 8:27:04, with Lane (8:28:22) getting ahead of a fading Crowly (8:32:26).