In one of the classic Ironman races of all time Craig Alexander triumphed over one of the best fields assembled outside Kona. 10 time Ironman New Zealand winner and legend Cameron Brown pushed Crowie all the way with Eneko Llanos also spearheading the race on the run. Joe Gambles also pushed the run with the first 10kms taking just on 35mins.
With the New Zealand Ironman changed to a 70.3 immediately Alexander knew that he would have his hands full with a fresh Cam Brown who would arguably be in the best condition out of the whole field. March is Cam Brown’s month and could almost be called that in New Zealand.
The swim was started in near darkness which caused a few problems. Crowie was caught unawares and had to duck dive under a piece of equipment as the gun went. In addition he lost his goggles and ended up off the lead pack in the second bunch and never had the chance to bridge the gap.
There was a lead group of 8 men who came in to T2 together and hit the run meaning that it was always going to be a fast race. The bike was fairly uneventful with Joe Gambles making an early push to bridge the gap to Fettell and try to shake the chase pack. This worked for a while but with a strong field of Europeans and Crowie wanting to win the biggest ironman race ever staged in Australia Gambles was never going to go for long.
The early leader Clayton Fettell withdrew from the race after pushing the pace on the bike and realising he had nothing left for the run. This was only Fettells second Ironman and he is still finding his feet.
The run pace was pushed right from the start which meant that the rest of the field was always going to struggle to keep pace with these super human ironmen.
The chase bunch knew that the pace out front was red hot and with self preservation in mind did not stay with the leaders. Crowie and Cam Brown continually tried to break each other until Crowie broke Brown at around the 35km mark.
Ironman World Champion triathlete Craig Alexander has posted his first ever sub-eight hour time to claim victory in the inaugural Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne.
In a race second placegetter Cameron Brown described as the â€œhardest” of his life, Alexander raced off with his first ever ironman victory on home soil.
The win delighted the large crowd gathered at St Kilda willing Alexander to a home victory with the Sydney father crossing the finish line in 7hrs 57min 44sec.
New Zealander Cameron Brown, who ran stride for stride with Alexander for most of the final marathon run, came home in second place (8:00:12) with Belgian triathlete Frederick Van Lierde third in 8:01:26
“Congratulations to Cameron Brown,” Alexander said. “What a warrior. He pushed me right into the well today.”
Alexander rated the win in Melbourne as one of his most painful after a poor swim put him on the backfoot from the start of the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run race.
Australian Clayton Fettell lead the elite men’s field out of the swim, covering the 3.8km course in 45min 59 sec.
Fellow Australian Luke McKenzie was second (47:11) with Estonian Marko Albert third (47:13), ironman debutant Greg Bennett (47:18) fourth and local Luke Bell (47:22) fifth.
Fettell, contesting only his second ever ironman, extended his lead in the early stage of the 180km cycle and was around 3min 40sec ahead at the 63km mark of the race.
At the mid-way point of the bike leg, Fettell held a four minute lead on Joe Gambles with the chasing pack, containing all the pre-race contenders, less than five minutes off the pace.
Fettell’s time at the front came to an end around 153km into the bike leg as the chasing pack caught the man who had done just one ironman prior to lining up in the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne.
Alexander, who has not raced since winning his third crown in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii last October, was perfectly positioned to take the race when he entered the bike to run transition as a frontrunner.
Alexander entered the transition in eighth place, just 33 seconds behind Victorian Luke Bell who was the first man to hit the run course.
At the 10m mark, Alexander, Brown from New Zealand, Llanos and van Lierde were ahead of the field as thousands of spectators started to gather at the finish line at the St Kilda Sea Baths.
A few kilometres down the road the ironman had become a two-horse race between Alexander and Brown who matched each other stride for stride on the marathon.
But around 7km from the finish Crowie broke away from Brown to set up his victory. “I wanted to be the first man to have my name on the Greg Welch trophy,” he said.
Brown may have come up short but gave his all in the battle â€œIt was quite tough. My legs are going to be pretty dead after this.
â€œI’ve given it my all. It was a fantastic race,â€ said Brown.
|VAN LIERDE, Frederik||0:47:25||4:27:40||2:42:46||8:01:26|