Australian Joe Gambles rode to a course record to take his greatest win Sunday at the Vineman 70.3 Triathlon in Santa Rosa, while Pip Taylor took the women’s crown by a comfortable margin over Tyler Stewart.
Gambles overcame a 1:27 deficit after the swim (26:13 to John Dahlz’s 24:46) with a devastating race-best 2:08:15 bike that cut through a field that included Craig Alexander and Reinaldo Colucci and rewarded the second-place finisher at Connecticut’s Rev3 Triathlon with a 5-minute, 40-second advantage starting the run.
"I was surprised I went through a tough field like that on the bike, but I've been biking very well lately and hills are my strength," said Gambles, whose form has been peaking after 5th place finishes at Oceanside and Wildflower, a win at the European long course championships, and a second place to Matt Reed at Rev3. Gambles might be following in the bike power footsteps of fellow Tasmanian Craig Walton, now retired. "I'm also happy for and must give credit to my Boulder training partners Simon Thompson and Leon Griffin, who came second and third."
By the end of a low-wind, mild temperatures day, Gambles held on for a new course record 3:49:18 finish and a 4-minute 20-second margin of victory over fellow Australian Simon Thompson, whose race-best 1:11:49 run only took back 88 seconds on the winner. Aussie Leon Griffin took third, 7-minutes 43-seconds back. John Dahlz, who recently won the USAT National Collegiate individual title racing for UC Berkeley, followed up a race-best 24:46 swim with a 2:15:42 bike and a 1:17:42 run to take 4th in 3:59:45.
"Joe's performance was no shock to me," said Simon Thompson. "He's been on fire in training and went through all of us like as knife through butter."
Defending Ironman World Champion and recent winner of the Boise 70.3 Craig Alexander finished the bike in the first chase pack, but faded to 8th after gastrointestinal woes struck on a 1:24:07 run.
Australian Pip Taylor held off a strong bike and run by recent Ironman Coeur d’Alene winner Tyler Stewart to take the women’s win 4:20:04 to 4:21:31, with Dede Griesbauer third in 4:23:29. Despite a race-best 2:23:42 bike and second-best 1:23:17 run, the 31-year-old Stewart could not overcome her usual nemesis – a 32:55 swim that gave away 6:26 to Taylor.
"I felt controlled all day - just cramped really badly in my calf with half a mile to go which really slowed things down," said Pip Taylor to slowtwitch. "It will not be the prettiest finish line shot! Nothing like going from 4 min in the lead with 1 mile to go to a limp up the chute! Still felt good, but the calf didn't want a part of it!"
Defending Ironman 70.3 World Champion Joanna Zeiger had the fastest swim (25:32) and stayed close on the bike (2:30:07) before physical woes forced her to drop out. Ironman World Championship 5th place finisher Linsey Corbin came back front from mechanical woes on the bike (2:30:23) with a race-best 1:21:07 run to take 4th place, 1:08 behind Griesbauer’s 4:23:29.
Vineman 70.3 Triathlon
Santa Rosa, California
July 19, 2009
S 1.2 mi./ B 56 mi./ R 13.1 mi.
1. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:49:18 *new course record
2. Simon Thompson (AUS) 3:53:38
3. Leon Griffin (AUS) 3:57:01
4. John Dahlz (USA) 3:59:45
5. Brian Lavelle (USA) 4:00:25
6. Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) 4:01:59
7. Nicholas Thompson (USA) 4:04:15
8. Craig Alexander (AUS) 4:04:59
9. Clayton Fettell (AUS) 4:06:43
10. Eduardo Sturla (ARG) 4:07:07
1. Pip Taylor (AUS) 4:20:04
2. Tyler Stewart (USA) 4:21:34
3. Dede Griesbauer (USA) 4:23:29
4. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:24:37
5. Kelly Couch (USA) 4:25:23
6. Amelia Pearson (AUS) 4:30:10
7. Gina Kehr (USA) 4:31:01
8. Kate Pallardy (USA) 4:33:39
9. Rachel Challis (USA) 4:34:14
10. Tracy Robertson (USA) 4:34:39
Pictures courtesy of Rich Cruse. Check out his site richcruse.com