Leanda Cave of Great Britain’s margin was a mile and a quarter and Dirk Bockel of Luxembourg did it by three seconds, but both won top honors at the sixth Ironman 70.3 Florida triathlon Sunday at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Cave, the 2002 ITU Olympic distance World Champion, easily defended her 2008 Ironman 70.3 Florida title, smashing Samantha McGlone’s 2006 course record by 4 minutes 10 seconds with a 4:15:47 finish that gave her an 8 minute 13 second margin of victory over New Zealand’s Joanna Lawn.
After emerging from the swim just three seconds behind Boulder Colorado’s Brooke Davison, Cave took control of the race with a sizzling 2:19:03 bike that was 4 minutes faster than any of her rivals, then sealed the win with a 1:26:39 run that was just three seconds slower than Lawn’s second-best half marathon.
Lawn, the six-time Ironman New Zealand winner, was running shoulder to shoulder with Magali Tisseyre at nine miles into the run, but found enough in the tank to outkick her Canadian rival and take the runner-up slot by 23 seconds.
Cave’s outstanding race this week underlined her recovery from a pre-race flu that left her in second place, five minutes back of winner Virginia Berasategui two weeks ago at the Wildflower half Ironman-distance event.
“I had to take the race on from the get go and that’s what I did,” Cave told IronmanLive.com, adding that she would return in 2010 to try for a three-peat “for sure.”
Dirk Bockel of Luxembourg, who led the Beijing Olympics off the bike, outran a resurgent Luke Bell of Australia by three seconds to take the win in 3:54:40.
Unlike Cave’s solo surge to the front, Bockel was closely trailed all day. His 24:55 race-best swim in Lake Clementine led David Kahn by one second, Kiwi Bryan Rhodes by 9 seconds and Bell by 52 seconds. On the bike, Bockel, Rhodes and Bell made a break, with Bockel arriving first in T2 after a second-best 2:08:53 ride, with Rhodes 5 seconds back and Bell trailing by another 4 seconds.
On the hot and humid run, Rhodes dropped from contention in the first few miles, but Bell stuck like super glue as the two rivals sped toward virtually identical 1:17 runs. All the while, last year’s runner-up, Santiago Ascenco of Brazil, kept chasing to a race-best 1:16:17 run, but never got closer than two minutes back.
With his Olympic distance speed, Bockel remained cool enough to grab a pair of Mickey Mouse ears from his wife to wear and still hit the finish line with a 3-second margin over Bell.
"It was a bit of a yo-yo game on the run," Bockel emailed Slowtwitch editor Herbert Krabel. "I threw in a couple of surges and gained ground, and then he came a bit closer and then I would throw in a surge--this went on for most of the run.
" It seemed like he was losing a lot of time at the nutrition stops. Coming from short course, I have confidence in my leg-speed and knew that I could sprint him down at the end if I needed to. In the last loop I knew that I was the stronger one--so it really didn't have to come down to a sprint at all."
Bockel’s win at Disney World, following his debut Ironman third place at Taupo and fourth place two weeks ago at St. Croix, underscored his arrival as a top long course contender.
Ironman 70.3 Florida
Disney World, Florida
May 17, 2009
S 1.2 mi/ B 56 mi/ R 13.1 mi
1. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 3:54:40
2. Luke Bell (AUS) 3:54:43
3. Santiago Ascenco (BRA) 3:56:25
4. Paul Amey (GBR) 3:57:19
5. Alessandro Degasperi (USA) 3:58:43
6. Torsten Abel (GER) 4:00:03
7. Brandon Marsh (USA) 4:00:12
8. Andrew Hodges (USA) 4:01:04
9. Daniel Bretscher (USA) 4:02:27
10. Tim Berkel (AUS) 4:03:57
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:15:47
2. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:24:00
3. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:24:23
4. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:27:24
5. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:29:04
6. Lisa Bentley (CAN) 4:30:55
7. Brooke Davison (USA) 4:33:35
8. Kathleen Pallardy (USA) 4:36:55 * W 18-24
9. Terra Castro (USA) 4:39:17
10. Erin O'Hara (NZL) 4:42:40
More great Clarke Rodgers images of the 70.3 Florida event can be found at sportzfoto.com