Bart Aernouts of Belgium advanced from 23rd after the swim to 4th after the bike leg and secured the win with a race-best 2:44:10 run to finish in 7:59:07, with a 3:53 margin of victory over runner-up Joe Skipper of Great Britain (2:46:43 run) and 5:56 over 3rd-place Maurice Clavel of Germany.
Aernouts earned 15,000 Euros for the triumph and added another highlight to a 2017 season that includes an impressive victory at Ironman Lanzarote. Although he did not score the fastest run this time around, Skipper repeated his 2016 Challenge Roth runner-up finish.
“We had a really close field on the men’s side and this showed in the run where there were quite a few position changes,” Aernouts told Challenge media. “I surprised myself a little bit – I am not the best swimmer and I was alone on the bike most of the time and I felt the headwind quite a lot… I had to be patient at the beginning and then took a risk and pushed at the half way point to get the lead and made it to the finish line.”
On a day when Sebastian Kienle of Germany scored the second-fastest men’s Ironman brand time in history with a 7:41:42 clocking at Ironman Frankfurt, Aernouts’ 7:59:07 winning time today was not as impressive - 23:28 slower than Jan Frodeno’s winning time last year at Roth. However, Aernouts can point to hotter weather this year at Roth. After all, Daniela Ryf faded to an 8:40:03 clocking this year at Roth, 18 minutes slower than her 2016 winning time.
Maurice Clavel led the pro men’s swim in 44:49 which gave him a 3:42 lead on fellow German Sean Donnelly, 3:44 on Nils Frommhold of Germany, 3:46 on Brad Kahlefeldt of Australia, 3:47 on Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand, 3:53 on Timo Bracht of Germany, 3:54 on Henry Beck of Germany, and 4:06 on Per Bittner of Germany.
After 37km of the bike leg, Donnelly led a pack of 7 followed by Frommhold, Bracht, Bozzone, Beck, Kahlefeldt and Bittner – all within an 11 seconds spread. Further back were Bart Aernouts of Belgium (+3:58), Joe Skipper of Great Britain (+5:35), and Christian Brader of Germany (+7:03).
After 50km, Frommhold took a 1:11 lead on Bozzone, 1:17 on Bracht, 1:19 on Maurice Clavel of Germany, 1:52 on Bittner, 2:45 on Donnelly, 4:08 on Kahlefeldt, and 6:48 on Aernouts.
At the finish of the bike leg, Clavel led the pro men with a 2:04 margin over Bracht, 4:46 on Bozzone, 6:43 on Aernouts, 7:56 on Dougal Allan of New Zealand, and 8:02 on dangerous Joe Skipper, who advanced to 2nd place at Roth last year with a race-best 2:38 marathon.
After 10km of the run, Clavel hung on to a 2:53 lead on Bracht, 5:30 on Bozzone, 5:46 on the fast approaching Aernouts, and 7:07 on Skipper. Halfway through the marathon, Clavel led hard-charging Aernouts by 2:16, Bracht by 4:05, Skipper by 4:29, Bozzone by 5:16, and Allan by 8:16.
With 6km to go, Aernouts broke out front, leading Skipper and Clavel by 3:53 with Bracht (+6:44) and Bozzone (+7:44) 4th and 5th.
“At the end I was completely wasted,” Skipper told Challenge media. “It came right down to the wire for second place. I didn’t know where Maurice was. So I just put my head down - if I’d known the new run course was going to be that hilly I’d have laid off the cream cakes before the race!”
After a race-best 2:44:10 run, Aernouts crossed the line in 7:59:07 with a 3:53 margin of victory over Skipper (2:46:43 run) and 5:46 over 3rd place finisher Clavel.
DATEV Challenge Roth
July 9, 2017
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 7:59:07
2. Joe Skipper (GBR) 8:03:00
3. Maurice Clavel (GER) 8:04:53
4. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:07:01
5. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:11:34
6. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 8:12:55
7. Dougal Allan (NZL) 8:14:43
8. Roman Deisendorfer (GER) 8:16:29
9. Per Bittner (GER) 8:17:15
10. Markus Hörmann (GER) 8:13:25