After claiming the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney title, Annabel Luxford produced yet another dominant performance from start to finish to run away with the victory. Luxford was a force to be reckoned with and had a race day which ran like clockwork.
Today marked a first IRONMAN 70.3 win for the Australian professional Matthew Pellow.
Luxford clocked a remarkable finish time of 4 hours 10 minutes 45 seconds over the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run course format.
Luxford led out of the water by over a minute with the chase pack of professional females including Andrea Forrest, who recently claimed 2nd at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie and 3rd at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney, followed by Kym Jaenke.
Luxford was riding in a league of her own for the duration of the entire 90km bike course with no athlete game to make a move.
In the early stages of the bike leg Yvonne Van Vlerken, of the Netherlands who finished in an outstanding third place at IRONMAN Western Australia last weekend, was sitting 2 minutes 14 seconds in second place with Sarah Crowley 5-minutes down behind Luxford’s commanding lead.
At the 71km mark Luxford maintained the strong charge with Van Vlerken riding 1 minute 49 seconds down in second place.
Luxford clocked a bike time of 2:19:07 with a slick transition leading out on the run course looking strong, solid and effortless with Van Vlerken and Kate Pedley chasing.
At the midpoint of the half marathon Beth Gerdes was on the move running into fourth place at an average of 3:48/km with Luxford, Van Vlerken and Pedley holding their pace in top positions.
Half way through the run Luxford extended her lead over Van Vlerken to 3 minutes 43 seconds.
It was clear that Luxford’s sights were set on capping off her golden year, consisting of victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney and a strong debut at the IRONMAN World Championship in October, with success today.
“I am very happy to come here today and get the win after my Western Sydney title. This is my first time racing in Ballarat and I really enjoyed it,” said Luxford.
“I certainly prefer the IRONMAN 70.3 distance race, it fits between breakfast and lunch. It’s a little more ideal than one that takes all day. These races now feel short,” said Luxford.
“Spectacular racing from Yvonne (Van Vlerken) to be able to do that today after an IRONMAN race last weekend. I can’t image racing a week after, I would still be in the couch,” Luxford added.
Van Vlerken, Pedley and Gerdes showed off fine race form but just weren’t charged with the same fuel as Luxford who had the fire to win. Van Vlerken and Pedley rounded out the professional women’s podium at IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat.
“It’s a really nice course and the crowds are amazing out there and this is a race I will definitely come back to,” added Luxford.
The professional men’s race saw young gun Matthew Pellow claim victory, in the second edition of IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat today, for the first time.
Pellow exited the swim in fourth place, produced one of the fastest bike splits to storm home to the finish line with victory.
Pete Jacobs, Clayton Fettell, Casey Munro, Matthew Pellow and Luke Bell exited the swim within seconds of each other but it was Bell who took the lever on the race averaging 42km/h for the 90km bike leg.
At the half way mark of the bike leg Bell maintained a strong lead nearly 2 minutes on Pellow with a chase group which included Nicholas Baldwin, Per Bittner, Fettell, Munro and Jamie Huggett over 3 minutes down.
By the 70km mark Bell had pushed 2 minutes ahead of Pellow and 3 minutes and 29 seconds over Baldwin, Munro, Bittner and Huggett with Fettell dropping back over 5 minutes on the leader.
At this stage of the race the professional field of males knew they were in for a fierce game of running fire ahead of the 21.1km run leg.
A shocking twist in the men’s race saw Bell lose time due to a mechanical issue at the 71km mark of the course. Despite the setback the race favourite and event ambassador kicked on and hit the run course.
“The support was great and I think everyone out there appreciates you finishing. It’s disappointing but I had a great start to the race,” said Bell.
In the early stages of the run course it was Pellow who took charge with Bittner, Baldwin and Munro out together and chasing hard over 1-minute back. Huggett was striding over 2-minutes behind the race leader.
Pellow stepped up the pace at the half way mark and made his move to open a buffer of over 1- minute on the professional field of males.
“I spent most of the run dreaming about coming first and as each kilometre ticked by I got a little more excited,” said Pellow.
“I am just so happy to come away with my first major career win here today in Ballarat,” he added.
Pellow produced a strong finish to claim the title with Bittner and Baldwin snaring second and third place respectively.
Ballarat presented perfect racing conditions with a crisp start to the day, blue skies which warmed athletes up nicely out on the bike course.
Spectator support lined the course and event site which is set amongst the picturesque Ballarat Botanical Gardens Reserve, located on the western shore of picturesque Lake Wendouree, in Ballarat, Victoria.