Leo Bergere takes close win at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside
Reigning world champion hangs on for 12-second win in CaliforniaPhoto by: World Triathlon
While heading into Ironman 70.3 Oceanside all the hype was focussed on Jan Frodeno’s return to racing, the reining World Triathlon champion Leo Bergere (FRA) – he’s pictured above taking the world title in Abu Dhabi – should possibly have been enjoying more of a spotlight, especially as the German Olympic and Kona champ eventually pulled out. In the end the Frenchman would take the title, but American Jason West proved that he is amongst the sport’s best runners, coming within 10 seconds of the win.
Bergere dominates the swim
It was hardly a surprise that the draft-legal specialist would lead the way in the frigid water (a reported 56 degrees), but it was hard to imagine before the race that Bergere would open up a 30-second lead on the rest of the men in the field. South Africa’s Nicholas Quenet led the chase pack of eight into T1 about 30 seconds down, joined by the likes of Americans Ben Kanute, Eric Lagerstrom, Matt McElroy and West, along with Canada’s Brennen Smith and Mexico’s Tomas Rodriguez Hernandez.
It didn’t take long, though, for Kanute to power his way to the front of the race, with more fast cyclists including defending men’s champion Jackson Laundry (CAN) and American Sam Long joining the lead group through 60 km. Long would lead the way into T2, eight seconds up on Bergere and Laundry, with Brit George Goodwin just a few seconds down. Kanute was sitting in no-man’s land at 1:37 down by the time he made it to T2, while West was over three-minutes behind as he started the run.
West’s stellar run nets second
Once out on the run course, Bergere quickly surged to the front, with Long trying to hang on. The American wasn’t really able to match Bergere’s tempo and a gap opened and continued to grow through the first 13 km. West might have been well back starting the run, but he would blast through the second place by 14 km into the run, with Long fading and Laundry staying tough in third. West would continue to close the gap on Bergere, getting to within nine seconds with less than a mile to go.
You don’t win a World Triathlon Grand Final, or championship, if you don’t know how to close out a race, and Bergere shut down West’s charge over the final stages of the run to cross the line in 3:45:25. West’s stellar 1:07:41 split was enough to net him a close second, 12 seconds behind in 3:45:37. Laundry (3:47:38) would back up his big win from a year ago with a solid podium finish, while Kanute (3:49:38) and Goodwin (3:50:35) rounding out the top-five.
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