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Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic and Javier Gomez of Spain took top honors at Ironman 70.3 Geelong.
Kahlefeldt emerged from a tight battle with Caroline Steffen and Ellie Salthouse through the swim and bike legs with a women’s-fastest half marathon to finish in 4:09:55 with a 59 seconds margin of victory over Salthouse and 2:27 over 3rd place finisher Grace Thek of Australia.
Kahlefeldt thus continued her remarkable success – six wins at the 70.3 distance in 2018 after giving birth just over a year ago – with a victory over a powerful field in her 2019 debut.
Gomez led the men’s field with a 20:55 swim, came second by 5 seconds after the bike leg, and jetted away with a dominant 1:11:36 run to a 4:15 margin of victory over Josh Amberger of Australia.
Gomez, a 2-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion and 5-time ITU Olympic distance World Champion, showed once again he could dominate at the middle distance, although this year he plans to focus on the ITU Olympic distance circuit in an effort to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Kahlefeldt swam 23:26 to lead four Aussies - Ellie Salthouse by 2 seconds, Sarah Alexander by 4 seconds, Claire Davis and Grace Thek – by 5 seconds, and Steffen by 7 seconds.
After 27 kilometers of the bike leg, Kahlefeldt, Salthouse, Steffen and Thek rode away to a 3:32 lead on Claire Davis and far more on strong runner Beth McKenzie of the U.S.
At 57 km, Thek fell back of the lead trio. After a women’s-best 2:20:27 bike split, Steffen arrived at the lead of a tightly packed trio that included Kahlefeldt and Salthouse. Thek arrived 4th, 2:24 arrears with Sarah Alexander 14:22 back and McKenzie with a daunting 19:16 deficit.
By 7 km of the run, Salthouse opened a 32 seconds lead on Kahlefeldt, 1 minutes on Steffen and 1:37 on Thek. After 16 km, Kahlefeldt charged into the lead by 30 seconds over Salthouse and more on Thek and Steffen. After a women's-fastest 1:21:56 run, Kahlefeldt finished in 4:09:55 with a 59 seconds margin of victory over Salthouse (1:22:42 run split) and 2:27 on Thek (1:22:03 run). After a 1:26:09 run, Steffen took 4th place, 4:19 arrears. Making up for time lost on the swim and bike, McKenzie set the women's fastest 1:21:03 run split to take 5th, 19:05 behind the winner.
Gomez led the pro men’s swim wave with a 20:55 split that gave him a 9 seconds advantage over Kiwi Matt Franklin, 11 seconds on Casey Munro, 14 seconds on Luke Bell, 15 seconds on James Davy and 1:27 to 1:29 over Tim Van Berkel, Levi Maxwell and Fraser Walsh.
After 27 km of the bike leg, Bell charged to the short lead a pack of four including Gomez, Munro, Franklin and Davy with chasers Maxwell, Mitchell Kibby, Van Berkel and Walsh 1:38 behind. Aussie Josh Amberger, a scintillating swimmer-biker, lost two minutes with a mechanical in transition.
By T2 Franklin led a five-man pack jammed within 7 seconds including Gomez, Bell, James Davy and Munro with Amberger, Maxwell and Van Berkel trailing by just over 2 minutes.
By the end of transition, Gomez trailed by 125 meters.
After 10km of the run. Gomez showed his thoroughbred running form and carved out a 2:14 lead on chasers Davy and Bell with Amberger 2:56 from the lead. By 13.5 km, Amberger matched Gomez’s pace and took over second place from Bell, Davy and Munro, who rah together 3:07 behind the leader.
After a 1:11:36 run, Gomez finished in 3:45:23 with a 4:13 margin of victory over Amberger (1:14:03 run). Van Berkel ran a 3rd-best 1:14:16 run to finish third, outsprinting Casey Munro by 3 seconds for the final spot on the podium.
Ironman 70.3 Geelong
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
February 17, 2019
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Radka Kahlefeldt (CZE) 4:09:55 S 23:25 T1 2:15 B 2:20:52 T2 1:30 R 1:21:56
2. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:10:54 S 23:27 T1 2:15 B 2:20:52 T2 1:40 R 1:22:42
3. Grace Thek (AUS) 4:12:22 S 23:30 T1 2:33 B 2:22:54 T2 1:25 R 1:22:03
4. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:14:14 S 23:32 T1 2:32 B 2:20:27 T2 1:37 R 1:26:09
5. Beth McKenzie (USA) 4:29:00 S 28:52 T1 2:39 B 2:34:16 T2 2:13 R 1:21:03
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3:45:23 S 20:56 T2 2:10 B 2:09:03 T2 1:41 R 1:11:36
2. Josh Amberger (AUS) 3:49:38 S 20:55 T1 2:10 B 2:11:03 T2 1:29 R 1:14:03
3. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 3:50:00 S 22:22 T1 2:11 B 2:09:41 T2 1:32 R 1:14:16
4. Casey Munro (AUS) 3:50:03 S 21:06 T1 2:02 B 2:09:03 T2 1:29 R 1:16:24
5. Mitchell Kibby (AUS) 3:50:48 S 22:22 T1 2:03 B 2:09:54 T2 1:33 R 1:14:59