It was a case of “catch me if you can” in both the men’s and women’s races at the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney won emphatically by Josh Amberger (AUS) and Anja Beranek (GER) respectively at Penrith today.
Australian Amberger produced his third straight wire-to-wire victory holding off fast-finishing Tasmanian Joe Gambles to take the title, while German Beranek held off New Zealand’s Gina Crawford, with both winners cementing their victories with brilliant performances on the bike.
Today my power was just phenomenal, I need to look at the data but it’s probably my best ride of the year and I am just stoked,” Amberger said.
It was a similar story for Beranek who was buoyed by the location of the race at the Sydney 2000 Olympic venue for rowing and canoe/kayak.
“I am very happy and I really enjoyed the day here. It’s overwhelming, I can’t quite believe it,” she said. “While I was on the course I saw the Olympic rings and it makes it such a special race here.”
Joseph Lampe was third in the men’s race while Lisa Marangon rounded out the women’s podium.
Amberger has enjoyed a breakout season claiming a second consecutive IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie title in October, followed by wins in Shepparton and now today’s inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney to his resume.
In all three races he’s lead out of the swim and pushed hard on the bike to open a buffer for the faster runners to chase.
“I know what I can stick to, I know what I train at and I always try and exceed it a little in the race and see where I am at about half way, should I slow down, should I keep the watts high,” Amberger said
After a strong swim in pool-like conditions, Amberger and Lampe exited the water together with Gambles 2m07s behind. By midpoint of the 90km bike, Amberger had pulled well away from Lampe, ahead by over three minutes with Gambles a further two minutes back.
With Gambles on the bike was Matthew Pellow, James Seear, Lindsey Wall and Bradley Clarke. Gambles did the bulk if not all the work in this chase pack with the other elites doing all they could to simply hang on to Gambles.
For Gambles this race was just one week before he takes on Ironman Western Australia. After the Ironman World Championship in October producing a result below what Gambles was expecting IMWA will be an end of season last throw of the dice and will hopefully utilise the hard work done for Hawaii pay off.
Amberger averaged 43km/h for much of the bike leg, a full 2km/h faster than any of the athletes behind him, which gave him a buffer of more than five minutes over Lampe starting the run with Gambles seven minutes behind.
It was evident early on in the 21.1km run that Tasmanian Gambles was determined to make a race of it. At the 10km he had cut the seven minute lead in half and by the 18km the lead was down to 2:30. It was clear on the run that Gambles was pushing hard to see what may happen. Amberger was not slowing and knew what pace to hold. When Gambles came past us (Trizone) at one point he was keen to know exactly what the split was.
“Josh really put it down and he deserved it today, he was way stronger,” Gambles said. “It was a really good course, pretty fast and the run was hot. It was an amazing race.”
But in the end Amberger’s lead off the bike proved too much as the timed his run to perfection to finish 2:20 ahead of Gambles.
“I was lucky, I had a ripper swim and bike and did what I needed to do on the run. I am really happy to come away with the win,” Amberger said. “Of my recent wins this was probably the toughest one, Joe kept the pressure on the whole way.”
Lampe did a great job to hold on to 3rd with James Seear and Lindsey staying fairly close for most of the run. Seear always had the slight upper hand. For Pellow this is early season and he went away knowing what work he has to do to get back on to the 70.3 podium.
Beranek, who has been in Australia for five weeks, produced a carbon copy of her race at SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah albeit with a happier ending. In Mandurah she found herself unable to hold off the likes of Annabel Luxford and Caroline Steffen, fading in the run to finish fourth.
This time her scintillating bike leg, which saw her average an impressive 39.29km/h, was enough to take the win.
“I felt good all day, I love Australia and I am racing well here, it really suits me,” Beranek said.
Perfect swimming conditions saw Crawford lead out of the water by just over 50 seconds to a group that included Beranek, Melanie McQuaid (CAN), Lisa Marangon, Michelle Gailey and Andrea Forrest. Trailing this group was Christy Sym who is slowly building back her strength and is on the comeback trail. New to the ranks Jessica Mitchell and Dimity-Lee Duke followed.
With the swim behind them uber biker Beranek immediately put the hammer down, catching Crawford and then riding away from the field.
By end of the 90km bike leg she lead the chase group of Crawford, McQuaid, and Marangon by over seven minutes.
Gailey has had a challenging year with Melanoma battles and managed to put in just 6 weeks of training leading up to Western Sydney. The day was always going to be tough. Sym just didn’t fire at Penrith and after training well recently at Lennox Heads under Grant Giles will be searching for some answers when back on the North Coast.
Beranek went onto control the run perfectly holding off Crawford who ran strongly to take second.
McQuaid who was in the mix off the bike eventually had to withdraw from the race on the run. Sym possibly should have after feeling cold for most of the race.
“It’s such an amazing course and such a good venue, everything is together. It’s perfect for the spectators. I love racing and I’ve had a great year,” she said.
- Josh Amberger (AUS) 3:49:24
- Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:51:40
- Joseph Lampe (AUS) 3:54:02
- James Seear (AUS) 3:56:52
- Lindsey Wall (AUS) 3:58:26
- Anja Beranek (GER) 4:16:13
- Gina Crawford (NZL) 4:19:44
- Lisa Marangon (AUS) 4:25:49
- Andrea Forrest (AUS) 4:27:24
- Dimity-Lee Duke (AUS) 4:28:04
More than 1,900 age group athletes chased their dreams at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney, with more than 500 first timers.
IRONMAN legend, six-time world champion, Dave Scott completed the swim and ride legs as part of a team and was full of praise for the event.
Scott, who has been involved in the sport for more than 30 years, said it was one of the prettiest courses he’d ever ridden.
The 60-year-old swam 28:28, rode 2:31:03 while young Australian pro Sam Appleton came home with a 1:24:14 run.