Craig Alexander grabbed his second 70.3 World Championship title, but this time it happened at the new venue in Las Vegas. Melissa Rollison fulfilled all pre-race hype and expectations and ran away with the women's title - the first World title for this blazing fast Aussie.
As expected Andy Potts was first out of the water in 23:19 and Kevin Collington surprised quite a few folks with his great swim that allowed him to reach T1 next, about 30 seconds later. After Collington a whole bunch led by Paul Matthews emerged from the waters about 1 minute down on Potts.
Chris Lieto quickly moved up on the bike and soon after was riding at the front of the race with Matthews, Raynard Tissink, Joe Gambles, Paul Ambrose, Craig Alexander, Matt Lieto and Fraser Cartmell. After about 30 miles Lieto decided to move on and he pulled away from the bunch and there was nothing anyone could do. Alexander got a flat and was quite lucky that tech support was right there to take care of the situation. A bit later Raynard Tissink also pulled away from the chasing pack and managed to get an advantage, but somewhere before he had collected a penalty that he would have to serve later. Lieto reached T2 first with a nice advantage and Tissink indeed had to stand down for 4 minutes. That meant Matthews and Alexander were the closest pursuers also about 4 minutes down.
But Alexander showed on the run that he is again in superb shape. His 1:11:50 run split was clearly best on the day and allowed him to easily reel in long time leader Chris Lieto and take his second 70.3 World Championship crown, and his fourth World Championship title in total. Lieto though hung tough and grabbed second place while a super happy Jeff Symonds finished third, most likely his best result to date.
"I think it is great having this race ahead of Kona. The course itself was everything I hoped it would be. It was super tough out there all day long and the heat made it even harder for us," said Alexander.
Leanda Cave came out of the water a few seconds ahead of fellow Brit Julie Dibens and about a minute up on the next group of female Pros. Melissa Rollison came out of the water about 3 minutes down, while Swiss bike dynamo Karin Thuerig had lost almost 7.5 minutes.
Despite a slower transition Dibens quickly moved into the lead on the bike and started to pull away from the Pros near her, but a bit further back Rollison was keeping pace with the fast Brit and her final bike split was just a few seconds slower than the time of Dibens. The fastest bike split of 2:24:05 though belonged to Thuerig who managed to be 3:40 quicker than Dibens. Dibens reached the bike-run transition first, but Rollison looked super strong when she got there about 2.5 minutes later. Thuerig rolled in next with a 3:53 gap and the race was on.
Rollison started to really take time back quite fast and it didn't take very long for the flying Aussie to reel in Dibens and move on up the road. Dibens eventually pulled out of the race and now the race for second and third became interesting again. Up front though Rollison's 1:21:14 was best and allowed her to take her first World Championship title.
"I have wanted to be a World Champion since I was 11-years old," said Rollison.
Karin Thuerig held off a hard charging Linsey Corbin to take second place, but Corbin who has been dealing with injuries for quite a while was quite happy with the final podium spot.
Marines Ironman 70.3 World Championships
Las Vegas, NV, USA / September 11, 2011
1.2m swim / 56m bike / 13.1m run
Top 10 men
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:54:48
2. Chris Lieto (USA) 3:58:03
3. Jeff Symonds (CAN) 3:58:42
4. Michael Weiss (AUT) 3:59:11
5. Joe Gambles (AUS) 4:00:00
6. Paul Matthews (AUS) 4:00:26
7. Raynard Tissink (RSA) 4:00:53
8. Tim Berkel (AUS) 4:02:01
9. Luke Bell (AUS) 4:04:03
10. Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) 4:05:09
1. Melissa Rollison (AUS) 4:20:55
2. Karin Thuerig (SUI) 4:26:52
3. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:29:25
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:30:21
5. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:33:08
6. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:33:57
7. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:35:36
8. Emma-Kate Lidbury (GBR) 4:36:14
9. Christie Sym (AUS) 4:36:52
10. Michelle Wu (AUS) 4:37:03