Craig Alexander of Australia and Agnieszka Jerzyk of Poland won the pro titles on a wet day at Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou.
Alexander, the 3-time Ironman World Champion and 2-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion, showing no sign of decline at age 45, combined a 5th-best 22:27 swim, a race-best 2:06:55 bike split, and a race-best 1:13:08 half marathon to finish in 3:48:50 with a 1:51 margin of victory over Ivan Kalashnikov of Russia and 2:18 over 3rd place finisher Paul Schuster of Germany.
Jerzyk defended her Liuzhou 70.3 title with a women’s 2nd-fastest 24:21 swim, a dominating 2:18:39 bike split, and a 1:25:41 run to finish in 4:15:41 with am 8:50 margin of victory over Kelsey Withrow of the U.S. and 14:15 over 3rd place woman Laura Dennis of Australia.
Ivan, the Russian with the surname of a famed Russian weapon, led a tightly packed pro field with a 22:22 swim split that gave him a 2 to 5 seconds lead on Paul Schuster of Germany, Sam Betten of Australia, Daniil Sapunov of Ukraine and Alexander the great Australian.
After 23km, Per van Vlerken of Netherlands joined the leading pack of six, which carved out a lead of two minutes on the chasers led by Blake Kappler. Halfway through the two-lap bike leg, Kappler cut his deficit to the leaders to 1:50 while Brad Williams plugged away, 7 minutes arrears.
After a race-best 2:06:55 bike split, Alexander and van Vlerken led the field into T2, while Betten gained 7 seconds in transition and led the men into the run.
In the first meters of the run, Betten led by 14 seconds on Alexander and 26 seconds on Schuster and van Vlerken.
By 3km, Alexander caught Betten with Kalashnikov trailing by 12 seconds. By 6km Alexander opened a lead of 12 seconds on Betten, 34 seconds on Kalashnikov, 56 seconds on Schuster, 1:09 on to Sapunov and 1:43 to van Vlerken.
Halfway through the run, Alexander expanded his lead to 46 seconds on Betten and 1:35 and 1:36 on Kalashnikov and Schuster. At 17km, Betten fell back to 3rd as Kalashnikov advanced to second place and Schuster advanced on Betten. By 19km, Schuster passed Betten for 3rd place.
After a race-best 1:13:08 run, Alexander won with a 1:50 margin on Kalashnikov, 2:18 on Schuster and 3:37 on Betten.
According to Ironman Live, Alexander’s win was his first in three years and comes after a second place at Davao 70.3 last month.
Kelsey Withrow of the U.S. led the pro women out of the swim with a 23:47 split that gave her a 34 seconds lead on Jerzyk, 58 seconds on Laura Dennis of Australia and 3:27 on Mary Robbins of Australia.
For the first 70km of the bike leg, Withrow and Jerzyk rode together, creating an unassailable lead on Dennis. At 75km, Jerzyk made a break and by T2 created a 1:40 lead on Withrow and 7:12 on Dennis. After 14km of the run, Jerzyk was well on her way to a 1:25:41 run and extended her lead to 6:45 on Withrow.
Jerzyk thus successfully defended her 2019 title with a 4:15:41 finish that gave her an 8:50 margin of victory over Withrow (1:30:45 run) and 14:15 over 3rd place woman Dennis (1:32:21 run split).
Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou
April 14, 2019
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:48:50 S 22:27 T1 3:26 B 2:06:55 T2 2:55 R 1:13:08
2. Ivan Kalashnikov (RUS) 3:50:41 S 22:22 T1 3:21 B 2:07:05 T2 3:00 R 1:14:54
3. Paul Schuster (GER) 3:51:08 S 22:24 T1 3:25 B 2:07:00 T2 3:10 R 1:15:10
4. Sam Betten (AUS) 3:52:27 S 22:24 T1 3:19 B 2:07:02 T2 2:41 R 1:17:03
5. Daniil Sapunov (UKR) 3:54:01 S 22:26 T1 3:25 B 2:07:00 T2 3:09 R 1:18:05
1. Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL) 4:15:41 S 24:21 T1 3:38 B 2:18:39 T2 3:25 R 1:25:41
2. Kelsey Withrow (USA) 4:24:31 S 23:47 T1 4:00 B 2:21:32 T2 4:29 R 1:30:45
3. Laura Dennis (AUS) 4:29:56 S 24:45 T1 3:47 B 2:25:19 T2 3:46 R 1:32:21
4. Mary Robbins (AUS) 5:07:47 S 27:14 T1 4:16 B 2:37:04 T2 4:22 R 1:54:42