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Caroline Steffen and Dirk Bockel: © Delly Carr / Sportshoot - Ironman


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Dirk Bockel and Caroline Steffen win Ironman Melbourne 2014

Melbourne, Australia (March 22, 2014) – LESS than five minutes separated the top five men at today’s IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne.

In perfect conditions it was a case of last man standing as Luxembourg’s Dirk Bockel outlasted a host of Aussies to take the Asia Pacific Championship, one of three global regional races qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championship.

Bockel took the win from Australians Paul Matthews and David Dellow with Germany’s Michael Weiss four and three time IRONMAN World Champion Craig Alexander in fifth place.

“It was a hell of a day, I’ve been here for three weeks and I’ve taken this race seriously.

Coming to Aussie for a triathlon for a Europe guy, you are asking for trouble,” Bockel said.

“Everyone laid it down out there, it was amazing. A fantastic race.”

In the women’s race Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen, who is now a permanent Australian resident, showed she was a class above the rest of the field.

The 2012 IRONMAN Asia Pacific Champion, who lives with boyfriend and third placed male David Dellow on the Sunshine Coast, took the lead early on the bike, and once onto the run was never headed as

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Melbourne again proved to be a happy hunting ground. In three attempts here she’s finished first in 2012, third last year and first again this year.

“After last year I wanted to get back to win this race. I it feels like a home. I can’t say thank you enough it’s a great course and a great support the aid stations are amazing,” she said.

Steffen, who is now coached by two time IRONMAN World Champion Chris McCormack, was happy the changes she has made in the last few months paid off.

“People expect results straight away, and the last couple of months have been a lot of changes, and that’s my race after last year I just wanted to get that trophy back. I’m totally over the moon,” she said.

Caroline Steffen and Dirk Bockel: © Delly Carr / Sportshoot - Ironman

Caroline Steffen and Dirk Bockel: © Delly Carr / Sportshoot – Ironman

MEN’S RACE

A shortened swim last year and perfect conditions this year, Melbourne’s weather showed in the world’s best Ironman athletes in back to back years how fickle it can be.

A big group of men took advantage of the conditions putting in a blistering swim, as the top ten all exited the water in just over 45 minutes.

That group included Dellow, Matthews, three-time ITU World Champion Peter Robertson, Courtney Atkinson, Bockel, and Belgium’s Axel Zeebroek.

Pre race favourite’s Alexander and Belgian Marino Vanhoenacker exited the swim two minutes further back.

It was an emotional Alexander at the finish line, who coaches second placed Matthews, paid tribute to his wife and all his supporters before announcing that this was his final race over the full Ironman distance.

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While disappointed with his own performance he was delighted to see Matthews on the podium.

“A tough swim made it hard for me out there today, it put me behind the eight ball. It was nice to see Paul actually listen to me,” Alexander said.

The decisive move came on the second lap of the bike as Zeebrok, Bockel and Dellow opened up a gap on the rest of the field.

By the end of the bike leg Dellow and Zeebrok had put two minutes into Bockel.

Onto the run and Zeebroek quickly opened a two minute lead, with Dellow taking the lead at the 15 km mark. Zeebroek hung tough for 2kms before Dellow lifted his pace and pulled away. By the 28km mark Matthews had made up the seven minute deficit he gave up on the bike, and overtook Dellow for the lead. Dellow quickly took the lead back and held on until Bockel made his move at the 36 km mark, it proved to be the move that broke Dellow’s spirit.

With Bockel disappearing up the road Matthews and Dellow were left to battle it out for second place, which went to Matthews in the shadows of the finishing line.

“I tried to hold my time as long as I could, just to hold it all together, but all the guys went after it today,” Bockel said.

“I just had to be patient today.”

“When you come to race the Aussies in their own backyard you play with fire, so I knew what I was in for, it was a brutal race.”

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WOMEN’S RACE

In the women’s race American Mary Beth Ellis threw down the challenge to pre race favourite Steffen, exiting the water with a lead of just over two minutes.

Steffen quickly set about erasing that gap on the bike as she and Ellis spent most of the ride within sight of each other.

Stefan lifted the pace late in the bike and by the time she entered transition she had a 43 second lead over Ellis and American Naeth who recorded the fastest female bike split of 4:51:20.

Steffen stamped her authority on the race running strongly to take the win in a blistering time of 8:57:56 and take the win by just over four minutes.

“I can’t believe it. It has been tough the last few months with so many changes. I really can’t say thanks enough, I’m so happy to be back on top this really feels like home. I can’t say thanks enough-it’s a great race,” Steffen said.

Ellis held on for second with another American Kim Schwabenbauer rounding out the podium.

Top 10 Pro Men Finish
1          Dirk Bockel                  (LUX)               8:01:01
2          Paul Matthews            (AUS)              8:02:13
3          David Dellow               (AUS)              8:03:06
4          Michael Weiss             (USA)              8:03:45
5          Craig Alexander          (AUS)              8:05:46
6          Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL)              8:08:24
7          Axel Zeebroek             (BEL)               8:12:34
8          Christian Kemp           (AUS)              8:14:09
9          Christian Kramer         (GER)              8:15:09
10        Peter Robertson          (AUS)              8:16:29

Top 10 Women Finish
1          Caroline Steffen          (SUI)                8:57:56
2          Mary Beth Ellis            (USA)              9:02:14
3          Kim Schwabenbauer  (USA)              9:10:05
4          Rebekah Keat             (AUS)              9:11:05
5          Asa Lundstrom            (SWE)             9:16:08
6          Angela Naeth              (CAN)              9:21:10
7          Mareen Hufe               (GER)              9:21:39
8          Simone Boag              (AUS)              9:31:19
9          Rosie Oldham             (AUS)              9:32:33
10        Jessica Simpson         (AUS)              9:34:07

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