Today we saw a battle between two Ironman World Champions and the return to the podium after a run of injuries to a former multiple Ironman 70.3 World Champion.
Very strong professional fields were in place today at the Pearl iZumi Huskisson Long Course Triathlon where the hot topic on everyone’s lips was the talk of Craig Alexander, Pete Jacobs, Brad Kahlefeldt or Paul Ambrose, David Mainwaring, Michael Fox and a late starter Todd Skipworth would make up the podium. Pete Jacobs has been off the pace in recent times and after Geelong knew what he needed to do to get things firing. Bike strength was his key focus and had evidently improved going by today’s result.
The front swim pack saw Michael Fox lead out of the water with Jacobs, Alexander, Skipworth, Kahlefeldt and Caleb Noble hot on his heels. The bike started out solid for the first lap with Skipworth, Fox and Kahlefeldt all staying with Alexander and Jacobs. By the start of the second lap the seasoned Ironman World Champs knew what had to be done and the blow torch was applied. Fox dropped a bottle and lost a bit of ground. He then went hard to catch Jacobs and Alexander but when he bridged back they went to another gear leaving Fox to search vainly for his next gear just having used the afterburners to catch these two.
That left Fox, Skipworth and Kahlefledt together as the chase pack. Unfortunately for Skipworth he copped a pretty nasty drafting penalty. Fox said after the race that it was not deserved at all. It was harsh.
Over in the women’s race Radka Vodickova had cleared out to an early lead after getting the jump on the field out of T1. Behind her Michelle Bremer had made up some solid time with Lisa Marangon also in the game. Behind them was a charging Melissa Hauschildt who eventually took the lead at the 35km mark after making the pass on Vodickova.
The women’s race stayed that way until T2.
In the men’s race the guys chasing the front five were starting to splinter. The surprise for me was the ability for James Davy (brand new to long course) to show good bike improvement and get amongst it. Davy is a former ITU junior who has an incredibly strong swim/run combo. He is a 15:20 road 5k’er and has a 1:08 half marathon PB.
Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney champ David Mainwaring is still building after a decent Xmas break and is working towards this years goal races.
Two time Ironman Australia champion Paul Ambrose was not on song today but he should be firing on all cylinders by Ironman Australia. Today’s hitout will give him something to look at and fine tune as he puts the final preparations in place.
On to the run and it was the Pete Jacobs and Craig Alexander show. Jacobs led out and was putting down the hammer with a few 3:05s to get the show started. Crowie at this point was thinking ‘If he can run this pace then he deserves to win’. It was obvious from Jacobs face throughout the first 15kms that he was digging very deep and wanted this win badly. The win was important but more important was putting together a solid race and finishing competitively.Â A 20-40 second gap remained until approximately the 15km mark by which stage Alexander had managed to bridge 40 seconds over the previous 5kms. Speaking to Pete after the race he said he felt fine throughout the first 10kms and even heading back out to the 15km mark he still felt good.
Once Alexander took the lead it was then that he put more pressure on Jacobs and finally secured the win.
On their day these two Ironman Champions are amongst the best there is and today they put on a great show for the few thousand participants and spectators that wanted to see the pros racing.
In the women’s race the order out of T2 was how the race finished with Melissa Hauschildt, Radka Vodickova and Lisa Marangon leading the way. Hauschildt was back to her rampaging best with one of her signature runs. Vodickova said after the race when being interviewed by Pete Murray that “I am slowly building on the amount of kilometers it takes Mel to pass me on the bike. Today it was 35”.
Michelle Bremer raced strongly and looked good on the run all day. Holding out Lisa Marangon was a job and a half as Marangon’s run form looked very solid and relaxed.