Pablo Dapena Gonzalez of Spain and Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands won the elite titles at the Challenge Mogan Gran Canaria half Saturday.
Dapena overcame a 2:18 deficit after the bike leg with a race-best 1:09:25 half marathon to finish in 4:00:25 with a 17 seconds margin of victory over Andi Böcherer of Germany and 52 seconds over 3rd place finisher Patrick Lange of Germany.
The win was perhaps a career best for the 29-year-old Dapena, who in 2017 won the Spanish long distance triathlon championship and took 2nd at the Spanish Olympic distance championship. In 2016 Dapena Gonzalez took 48th at the WTS Grand Final in Cozumel, and in 2015 took 14th at the Madrid ITU European Cup.
Thanks to a first pack swim and a race-best run, Dapena upset a highly-ranked field that included multiple Ironman and Ironman 70.3 winner Böcherer, reigning Ironman World Champion Lange, 2017 Ironman Lanzarote winner Bart Aernouts (4th) and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Sven Riederer (5th).
Van Vlerken, 39, overcame a 3:23 deficit after the swim with a women’s second-best 2:44:09 bike split and a women’s second-fastest 1:23:17 run split to finish in 4:38:41 with a 5:14 margin of victory over Ewa Komander of Poland and 7:40 over 3rd place finisher Anna Noguera Raja of Spain, who closed with a women’s-fastest 1:20:50 half marathon.
Van Vlerken’s finish was a return to form after a 5th place at Challenge Roma earlier this month. The win adds to Van Vlerken’s glittering résumé that includes two wins at Challenge Roth, an 8:43:07 PR at Ironman Florida, and a 2nd place finish at the 2008 Ironman World Championship.
“Where a lot of things went wrong last week (at Challenge Roma), it was 99 percent perfect today,” Van Vlerken wrote on Facebook. “I've been feeling very relaxed and under control all day.”
Challenge Mogan Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria, Spain
April 21, 2018
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Pablo Dapena Gonzalez (ESP) 4:00:25
2. Andi Bocherer (GER) 4:00:52
3. Patrick Lange (GER) 4:01:17
4. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 4:02:32
5. Sven Riederer (SUI) 4:05:07
1. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:38:41
2. Ewa Komander (POL) 4:43:45
3. Anna Noguera Raja (ESP) 4:46:21
4. Celine Schaerer (SUI) 4:56:13
5. Frederica De Nicola (ESP) 5:06:02