Kienle, Gajer rule in Kraichgau

Ironman 70.3 World Champion Sebastian Kienle smashed the bike segment on his new Scott Plasma on the way to a very comfortable win in 3:53:57 at Challenge Kraichgau and the title of German middle distance champion. For Julia Gajer however it was a much narrower decision over Gina Grawford - 16 seconds when it was all said and done. Gajer also captured that very desired German title in this final Challenge Kraichgau race. Moving forward this race will be an Ironman 70.3 event.

The men

Sebastian Kienle surprised fellow competitors and fans alike with a very strong swim that saw him about 30 seconds behind folks like Timo Bracht and Markus Fachbach. The fastest Pro was Mauric Clavel, and he had another 30 seconds of an advantage.

Kienle however moved swiftly on his new bike and caught and passed all those who were ahead of him in the first few miles of the bike segment. Sfter 20km Kienle had about a minute on a small group that contained Bracht, Fachbach, Clavel, Sebastian Neef, Marc Dülsen and Ronnie Schildknecht. At 50 kilometers Kienle's advantage had grown to 2.5 minutes and after that Kienle really put on the afterburners. When Kienle reached the bike-run transition his lead was 5:45 over Bracht and Neef, with Schildknecht and 2 others another 15 seconds adrift, but Dülsen seemingly paifd for that hard effort on the bike and reached the transition 8:22 behind the leader.

Out on the run Kienle's lead grew to 7 minutes and the fast German held that for most of the run. Towards the end with the win pretty much a sure thing, Kienle dialed it back and enjoyed the last few miles and especially the finish of this event. Schildknecht ran past Fachbach and Bracht to take the runner-up spot, and Bracht captured the final podium spot.

“I gave full throttle from the start,” said Kienle. “The weather and the course were great. I am particularly pleased as I couldn’t compete at [the 2013] Challenge Kraichgau at the last minute due to illness so I had unfinished business!”

The women

Czech Pro Eva Potuckova was first out of the water in 24:56, but Guna Crawford and Julia Jajer were not far behind, and all three athletes had managed to stay among the lead men during the swim.

Crawford quickly pulled away on the bike and only Gajer was able to keep a reasonable gap. Swim leader Potuckova started to drift back, but the defending chsmpion Yvonne Van Vlerken moved through the field and steadily gained positions. She came out of the water 5:30 behind Crawford, but after 90 kilometers on the bike she had cut that advantage in half.

Crawford started the run with a 1:10 advantage over Gajer, but the German Pro managed to reel her in after the first of 3 laps. From there the 2 virtually ran shoulder-on-shoulder and what had looked as a possible easy pass for Gajer turned out to be a dragged out battle.

But in the end Gajer found another gear and pulled away from the Kiwi to capture the win in 4:27:35. Crawford was second in 4:27:51 and Van Vlerken finished third in 4:30:32, thanks mostly to her race best 2:32:56 bike split.

“It was for me probably the hardest race I've ever contested in the Kraichgau,” said Gajer. “The swim was great, but the running was tough, Gina just did not let up.”

Challenge Kraichgau
Bad Schönborn, Germany / June 15, 2014
1.9km swim / 90km bike / 21km run

Top men

1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:53:37
2. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 3:59:27
3. Timo Bracht (GER) 3:59:39
4. Markus Fachbach (GER) 4:01:27
5. Maurice Clavel (GER) 4:01:52

Top women

1. Julia Gajer (GER) 4:27:35
2. Gina Crawford (NZL) 4:27:51
3. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:30:32
4. Laura Philipp (GER) 4:32:31
5. Astrid Ganzow (GER) 4:32:37