Michael Raelert and Melissa Rollison were a class above their respective fields today in Phuket as they took out the 2011 Asia Pacific Ironman 70.3 championship. Both of their runs proved to be the deciding factor with Raelert running 1:11 and Tim Reed being the only male that got close. Melissa Rollison ran 1:19 for an 11min quicker run than 6 time Ironman World Champion and second placed Natascha Badmann.
The day prior to the 2nd Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships in Laguna Phuket Trizone sat down with Michael Raelert, Melissa Rollinson and the Phuket weather man. In those discussions the 2 time 70.3 World Champ told us he planned to stay in or close to the lead pack that execute a powerful run to take home the title. For Rollinson, the reigning 70.3 women’s world champ, it was a case of planning to move to the front during the bike leg then showing a clean pair of heals to the competition on the run. The Phuket weather man told us we’d get a rain free race that would be hot and humid. We got two out of three at least.
Whilst the weather man was correct for the start of the race his predictions were way off the mark as the heavens opened on athletes as they took to the bike here in Phuket. It did mean a slightly cooler race with the rain falling for a good part of the race followed by cooler than normal overcast conditions. Sadly for Chris Lieto he didn’t get to see too much of the bike course as he hit the road at around the 15k mark heading through one of Phuket’s villages as he and the fellow lead men pushed the pace. Race over for the American and it was left to the two Germans in al Sultan and Raelert to take on the Aussie contenders such as Cunningham and Matthews along with American Matty Reed. A fairly tight pack of eight took to Phuket’s hills as they sped away from the rest of the field and took on the Phuket’s famous hills like they were mere speed bumps.
Into T2 and it became the Michael Raelert show. His race strategy had played out and it was time for him to use his weapon on the run. Raelert, Richie Cunningham, Paul Matthews, David Dellows and Paul Ambrose were very closely matched with Joshua McHugh also pushing the front guys. After swimming well Tim Reed flatted on the bike, crashed and had to really dig deep on the run to get back in to the race and got close to 3rd. What an effort! A shame as Reed was in great form and really focused on a top finish in the Asia Pacific champs. As the rain continued to fall, Raelert had opened up over a minute on the chasing Cunningham and Matthews, which soon extended as the kilometres passed along the flat tree lined course through the Laguna Phuket resort grounds. With Lieto bandaged up and out on course sharing splits to the leading men on the run, the German was in cruise control as he ran his way to a 3:51:36 with Richie Cunningham second in 3:57:16 and Paul Matthews 3rd in 3:58:24.
For the women, Mel Rollison continued her 2011 form by dominating the race in true World Champion style. Last year’s Asia Pac 70.3 runner up told us she had more fitness and plenty of confidence before the start. Her only nerves, using a TT bike to tackle Phuket’s course after she felt so good on her road bike last year. Fear not Mel! After Amanda Stevens lead the women out of the swim Rollison was on seek and destroy mode as she flew through the field on the bike as the local Thai school kids cheered and waved flags along the way. With her lead on the bike and her big weapon yet to come, it was going to be hard to stop her. When she did eventually make her way out of T2 and onto the run it was a case of catch me if you can….they wouldn’t thanks to a 1 hour 19 minute run split! The Aussie sensation eventually crossed the line in 4:17:01. Behind her it was 6 time Kona Champion, the evergreen 44yo Swiss, Natascha Badman who had a brilliant day showing everyone that age is no barrier when you have an engine and experience like hers. An ecstatic Badman took home second place in 4:30:42 followed by last week’s Laguna Phuket champion who was taking on her first ever 70.3, Radka Vodickova in 4:34:50.
It will be great to see Mel, Mirinda Carfrae and Chrissie Wellington race against each other at some stage in the near future. Over the 70.3 distance these possibly the only women that can push each other. We are looking forward to seeing how Mel’s transitions and finish went.
Post race Michael told Trizone “It was tough course and definitely got hot towards the end but I had a great race and I’m very happy with the result.” Last year men’s champ Tim O’Donnell used a 12-28 rear cassette to take on the hills so we asked what Michael elected to use “I went with a 25 and it was fine, the hills may have some steepness but are not too long, though not being able to get out of the saddle due to the wet roads made it more difficult. It was the descents that were the hardest as they can be very technical and you must remain very focused to ensure you do not lose a wheel on the bends, so I was happy to get through it. The bad rain started for me as I got back to the highway on our way back in so we probably had about 30 kms or so of it.” When asked how he was feeling with his result he told us “I felt strong throughout the race and I my preparation obviously had me in really good shape which I needed with such a tough field. The local support was fantastic with all of the kids and Thai people waving flags and cheering. I felt like going and joining them to cheer a few times as they were so kind to us. I am really happy with my win and hope to come back and defend next year.”
|Raelert, Michael||31/M PRO||0:23:34||2:14:17||1:11:14||3:51:36|
|Cunningham, Richie||38/M PRO||0:23:55||2:14:07||1:16:44||3:57:16|
|Matthews, Paul||28/M PRO||0:23:39||2:14:13||1:18:02||3:58:24|
|Reed, Timothy James||26/M PRO||0:24:08||2:19:35||1:13:29||3:59:57|
|Dellow, David||32/M PRO||0:23:38||2:14:07||1:20:44||4:01:11|
|Cigana, Massimo||37/M PRO||0:28:21||2:14:25||1:16:20||4:01:54|
|Ambrose, Paul||27/M PRO||0:24:12||2:13:42||1:21:52||4:02:18|
|Reed, Matt||36/M PRO||0:23:37||2:17:00||1:21:30||4:05:14|
|McHugh, Joshua||23/M PRO||0:24:06||2:13:58||1:24:49||4:06:04|
|Degasperi, Alessandro||31/M PRO||0:24:28||2:22:27||1:17:33||4:07:18|
|Zyemtsev, Viktor||38/M PRO||0:24:24||2:24:16||1:17:46||4:09:21|
|Croneborg, Fredrik||31/M PRO||0:26:10||2:22:27||1:17:44||4:09:27|
|Al-Sultan, Faris||33/M PRO||0:23:53||2:23:58||1:20:37||4:11:49|
|Schokman, Peter||30/M PRO||0:24:22||2:24:27||1:17:18||4:13:16|
|Brandt-Joergensen, Niels||28/M 25-29||0:28:49||2:23:39||1:20:57||4:17:58|
|Buxhofer, Matthias||38/M 35-39||0:32:34||2:16:36||1:26:10||4:18:44|
|Low, Charlie||37/M 35-39||0:29:56||2:26:00||1:19:50||4:19:17|
|Spackman, Todd Thekid||24/M 18-24||0:27:18||2:25:58||1:23:39||4:19:43|
|Legh, Christopher||39/M PRO||0:26:41||2:20:22||1:29:58||4:20:15|
|Green, David||34/M 30-34||0:31:37||2:26:49||1:18:02||4:20:45|
|Rollison, Melissa||28/F PRO||0:27:32||2:26:39||1:19:43||4:17:01|
|Badmann, Natascha||45/F PRO||0:30:00||2:26:01||1:30:57||4:30:42|
|Vodickova, Radka||27/F PRO||0:26:13||2:39:04||1:26:25||4:34:50|
|Lidbury, Emma-Kate||31/F PRO||0:26:47||2:35:02||1:30:54||4:36:09|
|Lewis, Tamsin||32/F PRO||0:28:29||2:36:47||1:27:45||4:36:14|
|Wu, Michelle||28/F PRO||0:28:00||2:36:56||1:29:37||4:38:27|
|Rabe, Katja||33/F PRO||0:28:16||2:37:18||1:31:59||4:40:34|
|Granger, Belinda||41/F PRO||0:27:29||2:34:03||1:35:56||4:41:10|
|Sax, Janine||34/F PRO||0:27:53||2:36:58||1:34:57||4:42:57|
|Stevens, Amanda||34/F PRO||0:24:12||2:39:52||1:37:51||4:45:41|
|Raynolds, Matilda||24/F PRO||0:28:39||2:38:02||1:36:47||4:46:53|
|Ferreira, Samantha||30/F 30-34||0:28:40||2:39:35||1:38:30||4:50:57|
|Castle, Ange Megan||28/F PRO||0:31:26||2:40:51||1:34:41||4:51:05|
|Jackson, Christina||30/F 30-34||0:27:04||2:41:11||1:39:12||4:51:29|
|Niederfriniger, Edith||40/F PRO||0:28:28||2:41:16||1:38:08||4:51:41|
|Nivon Machoud, Ruth||21/F PRO||0:25:51||2:51:29||1:33:17||4:54:04|
|Taggart, Sally||45/F 45-49||0:31:39||2:44:23||1:35:07||4:54:47|
|Gordon, Jacqui||38/F PRO||0:29:26||2:47:17||1:35:19||4:55:42|
|D’haese, Veerle||33/F 30-34||0:34:34||2:42:55||1:35:26||4:58:15|
|Kempter, Sabine||32/F 30-34||0:32:56||2:46:39||1:37:55||5:01:42|