Olympic qualifier Aaron Royle has capped an Australian triathlon resurgence on the cobblestoned streets of Stockholm overnight, with a brilliant bronze medal performance behind Spain’s four-time world champion Javier Gomez.
The 25-year-old from Newcastle, Australia’s first Olympic qualifier for next year’s Rio Games, arrived onto the start line with the mentality of â€œnothing to lose and everything to gain.â€
(Post race interview with Aaron Royle)
And it resulted in his second ever podium finish in the fiercely competitive ITU World Triathlon Series and his first in 2015.
Just three weeks ago the Wollongong and Vitoria Gasteiz (Spain) based former Under 23 world champion finished sixth in the Rio Test Event to book his place on his first Olympic team.
In Stockholm he again showed he is more than capable of mixing it with the best of the best and over one of the toughest courses on the WTS circuit.
Royle had plenty of green and gold company with training partner Ryan Bailie hanging on for fifth place and just 24 hours after London Olympians Erin Densham (sixth) and Emma Jackson (ninth) dug deep for the girls in an encouraging weekend for the Australian team, en-route to the Chicago WTS Grand Final next month (September 15-19).
Ryan Fisher was also in the thick of the action on the bike and into the run before finishing 24th while Jake Birtwhistle missed the front group on the bike and fought on to finish in 38th, with Cameron Good 45th.
Gomez, who won the Rio Test Event, finished the day with an unsurpassed run that brought him into the finish line with a lead of almost a minute to capture his second WTS win and sixth podium of the season.
The other two podium spots came down to an impressive battle between Royle and Joao Pereira (POR) â€“ who had yet to see a podium this year. Ultimately a last-minute push from Pereira granted him the silver medal, leaving Royle with the bronze.
A tough hill caused some groupings to shift and those with the legs were able to capitalize and push out ahead once the run began. Those legs belonged to Gomez, Pereira and Royle, who ran as a trio for the first lap. South African Henri Schoeman and Bailie paired up immediately and followed as a two-man chase vying for the fourth and fifth position.
With two more podium spots up for grabs, the momentum shifted with Schoeman and Bailie catching Pereira and Royle, creating a four-man pack with only two medals up for the taking.
The last lap saw Bailie drop out of the running however, followed by Schoeman in the last kilometre. It was only at the carpet did Pereira showcase an extra ounce of effort that allowed him to overtake Royle for the silver medal.
â€œThe hill, the cobbles, the tight corners, it just makes it an unrelenting courseâ€¦it doesn’t really matter where you are on the bike, you are still working hard, it’s a real strength orientated course and that really suited me,â€ said Royle.
â€œI had to fight hard in the last three kilometres but I was feeling fairly strong so I was telling myself to just stay relaxed.
â€œAfter qualifying for Rio I have been able to train and feel relaxed knowing I have qualified already – I went into the race with the mentality that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
â€œThe swim was good, getting out in the top three – it was pretty choppy and didn’t split up that much so I knew we needed to work the start of the bike to keep the gaps from the swim.
â€œThe bike was good – I did my share of riding and working with the group to increase our lead. It’s a challenging course with a hill, cobbles and very technical so its the type of course that wears your legs down by the end of the 40km.â€
Royle was quick to send a cheerio to his parents back in Newcastle.
â€œThis is for my parents who are back home watching. My Dad has been a bit ill over the last few months and mum’s been in hospital the last few day’s so hopefully that will put a smile on their faces,â€ said Royle.
â€œI know it’s in the wee small hours in Newcastle but hopefully they’re smiling back home.â€
Bailie, who sits firmly in sixth on the WTS World Rankings, admitted the tougher the course the better he like it and as always he gave it everything he had on the final 10km but in the end said he just â€œran out of gas.â€
â€œToday didn’t quite go according to plan, but I will get another crack in Chicago, and another performance like today, I would love a podium there,â€ said Bailie.
â€œI was pretty surprised with my swim, I didn’t think I was swimming as well as I did, I obviously made that front group which is always important.
â€œThe tougher the course the better for me, I like the tough courses, obviously Auckland is another course I like and Stockholm is another cool race as well.
â€œWe didn’t come here last yearâ€¦.so full marks to the organisers for getting it back this year.
â€œIt’s exciting to see Aaron on the podium after the year that he’s had. I would have liked to have been there myself but I just wasn’t strong enough over the last two and a half kilometres.
â€œThe first kilometre was pretty quick and I just backed myself that I could back end the last portion of the run.
â€œI knew I could pull myself back up but (in the end) I just ran out of gas pretty much.
â€œIt’s been tough training after Rio (the Test event) but getting four weeks (training in) before Chicago then hopefully that back end will be stronger before Chicago.â€
A delighted Triathlon Australia Performance Manager, Bernard Savage said it was â€œa great weekend for the Australian program with really encouraging results in both the men and women,â€ Savage said.
â€œAaron Royle and Ryan Bailie were just fantastic. Aaron committed to the run early, backed himself and got the reward.
â€œHe has built on the confidence gained from his performance in Rio while Ryan continues to improve and has once again put himself in the competitive section of the field.
â€œHe has had such a competitive year and I am sure the breakthrough podium is only just around the corner.
â€œBoth boys have eyes firmly on the World Series Final in Chicago and I am sure will be significantly better there.
â€œIt was excellent to see Erin Densham improving and on the way back to some good form. We are really looking forward to seeing her maintain this momentum through Edmonton into Chicago.
â€œEmma Jackson has put in her best performance for the year and this will be great for her confidence leading into Chicago. I am sure we are yet to see the best of Emma, she will only get better from here.â€
Ironman World Championship: Europeans Dominate and Records Fall
European dominance of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona has continued but not as the pre-race script had been written.
While Switzerland’s “Angry Bird” Daniela Ryf made it three Kona victories, it was not defending champion Jan Frodeno’s day, with the men’s championship title transferring to fellow countryman Patrick Lange.
Coming from a nine-minute deficit off the bike, Lange revelled in near perfect conditions to write himself into the IRONMAN history books to destroy the course record set in 2011 by Australian Craig Alexander, with a 2:39:59 marathon that helped deliver a total race time of 8:01:40.
In a record-breaking day, Aussie Cameron Wurf won the battle of the bikers taking control of the race at the 110km mark and leading into the bike/run transition to set a new bike course record of 4:12:54, more than five minutes faster than Normann Stadler’s 2006 record.
Wurf surrendered his lead early on in the run, as Lionel Sanders (CAN and Sebastian Kienle (GER) made their presence felt, but very quickly all eyes turned to a charging Patrick Lange who had moved into third at 21km of the marathon intent on reducing the six-minute deficit to the leading Sanders.
Lange was on a mission and keen to improve on his third place last year and with 5km to go on the run he flew past Sanders, heading for town and the adoring crowd lining the run course and the finish line on Ali’i Drive.
“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh, my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed of having this crown. From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out. I had to fight, I had to fight so hard,” Lange said at the finish line.
A fading Sanders managed to hold off the hard-charging David McNamee (GBR) for second with Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) crossing the finish to take fourth and fifth.
Swiss miss Daniela Ryf joined an exclusive club at the IRONMAN World Championships, recording her third win in Kona with a very skilful and strategic victory that while remarkably effective, lacked her usual flair and total dominance.
Ryf didn’t have it all her way, with Lucy Charles dominating the swim and majority of the bike before Ryf decided that enough was enough. Ryf wrestled the lead off the Brit and charged home with the fastest run of the day, putting a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 42.2km run.
“It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win. I’m so happy to turn it around today,” a more emotional than usual Ryf said at the finish line.
Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Smashes Course Record and Daniela Ryf Earns Third Straight Win
Patrick Lange (DEU) and Daniela Ryf (CHE) earned championship titles with momentous performances today at the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Lange passed Lionel Sanders (CAN) in the final three miles, clocking in at 8:01:40 and establishing a new course record (formerly 8:03:56 by Craig Alexander, 2011). Ryf earned her third consecutive crown with a time of 8:50:47, joining an exclusive “three-peat” winners’ circle alongside the newest IRONMAN Hall of Fame inductee Chrissie Wellington and Natascha Badmann, Dave Scott, Paula Newby-Fraser and Mark Allen. Over 2,350 athletes from 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents started the IRONMAN World Championship race on the Island of Hawai`i in the toughest one-day endurance event in the world.
Lange, who raced in only his fourth IRONMAN to-date, had an incredible ascension after having been 17th out of the swim in today’s race. Shortly after the swim, a pack of strong cyclists including Sanders, Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Cameron Wurf (AUS) broke away from the group. Wurf would sail into T2, shattering the 2006 bike course record held by Normann Stadler (4:18:23) with a 4:12:54 split. Sanders and Kienle also smashed the record with 4:14:19 and 4:14:57 split times, respectively. On the run, Sanders took a quick lead as Kienle fell into second. Meanwhile, Lange moved from 11th place to a steady third-place position by the half-marathon marker. Lange then made a decisive pass at mile 23 on the run, as he moved ahead of Sanders to take a hold of the lead, finishing strong in first place. With a 2:39:59 run split, he was only 14 seconds away from breaking the run course record he set last year (2:39:45).
Sanders hung on for second place, ultimately concluding his race with a time of 8:04:07. David McNamee (GBR), Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) rounded out the top five.
McNamee had the second fastest run split of the race with 2:45:30, helping him clinch a third-place podium finish by more than two minutes ahead of Kienle.
Defending champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Frodeno dug deep after back spasms slowed him first to a complete stop and then run/walk pace, mustering enough strength to finish the race.
Lucy Charles (GBR) led the professional women out of the water with a 48:48 split, missing the course record by only five seconds. After a speedy transition, Charles took the lead on the bike and had an approximately a five-and-a-half-minute lead over defending champ Daniela Ryf (CHE), Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Annabel Luxford (AUS). This pace remained consistent down the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway until Ryf attacked, making up over five minutes over the final 25 miles of the bike, which positioned her at the front of the pack. Ryf then greatly extended her lead on the run, with Charles, Crowley and Heather Jackson (USA), fighting for the remaining podium positions.
Ryf took first at 8:50:47, almost exactly four minutes off of her own 2016 course record time of 8:46:46. Calling on her epic running abilities, the Swiss star claimed her third successive IRONMAN World Championship victory.
Charles, a Kona rookie, maintained her second-place position throughout most of the run and ultimately to the finish. Crowley rounded out the top three in her second-ever appearance at the IRONMAN World Championship, finishing her race exactly two minutes behind Charles. Jackson and Kaisa Sali (FIN) rounded out the top five women.
Ironman World Championship: The Best Run Images from Kona 2017
It’s never an easy day out when racing any Ironman race let alone the World Championship. Then add in some hot and humid weather and you really have a very tough set of conditions.
Here are some of the amazing images that were captured during today’s race.
Ironman World Championship: The Best Bike Images from Kona 2017
With the backdrop of the most infamous course in the world, the Ironman World Championship bike course never misses by the providing the most amazing landscapes for the bike course. This year was nothing short of spectacular.
Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Beats Sanders by a Hair for the Win & New Record
The results are in. The 2015 and 2016 winner of the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, Jan Frodeno, suffered an injury early in the run today. This is when the world turned its eyes to Lionel Sanders of Canada, who led most of the race. That is, until the final few kilometres, when Germany’s Patrick Lange took the lead, setting a new world record of 8:01:39.
Lange came in 3rd place in the 2016 championship, following Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle, both from Germany.
As of this writing, 2015 and 2016 women’s winner Daniela Ryf is leading the women with 14km to go with Britain’s Lucy Charles behind her. This is Charles’ first Kona championship as a professional.
Sanders came in 14th and 29th place in the 2015 and 2016 races, respectively. Today was his first time making the top 10 in Kona. Earlier this year, Sanders announced that he would not compete in Kona. Later, he had a change of heart.
2017 has been a good year for Sanders. He competed in August’s International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship, and a few Ironman 70.3’s. He won every race except the St. George 70.3, where he came in 2nd place.
Trizone predicted that Sanders would do well this year. After losing Kona in 2016, he decided to take this year’s championship very seriously. Sanders has been the wild card of the race.
Congratulations to Lange and Ryf, and to Sanders for his unexpected near-win.
Ironman World Championship: Are We Stuck with Jan Frodeno & Daniela Ryf in Hawaii Again?
It’s time again for another Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The triathletes have already arrived on the Big Island, and sports news sites are speculating about who’s going to interrupt the winning streaks of Germany’s Jan Frodeno and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf.
Frodeno & Ryf Are Each Going for their 3rd Consecutive Kona Win
Both Frodeno and Ryf were the winners of the 2015 and 2016 races. Frodeno pulled ahead of Germany’s Sebastian Kienle by 3:32 in 2016 and Andreas Raelert, also from Germany, by 3:03 in 2015. In the 2016 women’s race, Ryf led Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae by 23:44. She beat Britain’s Rachel Joyce by 13:02 in 2015.
Most of Ryf’s Rivals Dropped Out
Many of Ryf’s past competitors are not competing this year. Carfrae has a newborn baby. Canada’s Heather Wurtele, who opted out of this race, came in 3rd place in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, leaving Ryf in 4th. The winner of that race was Holly Lawrence of Britain, who is also not competing this year.
Ryf’s Competition Could Still Be Fierce
The three rivals for Ryf to look out for are Heather Jackson of the USA, Rachel Joyce of Britain, and Melissa Hauschildt of Australia. Hauschildt made 2nd place in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, and Ryf finished behind her by 3:00 to land 4th Place.
In the 2013 70.3, Jackson won 2nd place, losing to Hauschildt by 5:12. Ryf came in 6th, finishing 3:27 behind Jackson.
Who Should Frodeno Be Afraid Of?
The conversation around Jan Frodeno centres around two other German guys, Sebastian Kienle and Patrick Lange. Kienle won the 2014 Hawaii championship. Frodeno settled for 3rd place and followed behind Kienle with 8:20:32 vs 8:14:18. USA’s Ben Hoffman came in 2nd place.
These are the guys Frodeno has to worry about most.
Frodeno’s Possible Wild Card Nemesis
Another contender who could give Frodeno a run for his money is Lionel Sanders of Canada. He won 11 out of 11 races in 2013 and has won a lot of them since. Sanders, who almost skipped this year in favour of the 70.3 World Championship, missed the top 10 in Kona for the past two years in a row. He said he did not take the championship seriously in 2016, and he vows to do better this year.
Sanders is known for rapid improvement and the ability to surprise people with wins in the races he truly sets his mind to winning. He’s also known for performing below expectations now and then. Rest assured, he’s serious about Kona this time. He would not have signed up otherwise.
This May Not Be Totally Boring After All
Well, this is the data. We can leave it up to the reader to decide who will win Hawaii’s Ironman.
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