Emma Pooley and Arnaud Guilloux captured the challenging and absolutely breathtaking 2015 Alpe D'Huez Triathlon. Mary Beth Ellis and James Cunnama were runner-ups and Jeanne Collonge and Scott DeFillipis rounded out the podium.
French Anthony Costes and Brit David Bartlett were first out of the water in just over 30 minutes, but on the challenging bike course they were soon eclipsed by the strongest cyclists. Arnaud Guilloux who had a solid 31:47 opening swim moved past the swim leaders and Cunnama to put himself into a good position, but it was Belgian Sven Van Luyck who started his day with a relatively slow 37:20 swim and then recorded a race best 3:44:26 bike split. French Colin Arros also had a great day on the bike with a 3:49:03 effort and now it all came down to the run.
Guilloux had the best paced day and ran a 1:27:41 to the title of this unique event. Cunnama charged hard with a 1:25:32 to grab second place, but it was American Scott DeFillipis who ran a race best 1:16:47 to grab 3rd place, only 23 seconds behind Cunnama.
"The race started in one big wave, so all together. Freezing lake and inaudible start horn didn't help. I had an average swim, but caught the leaders at top of first climb. Then took the lead until near top of second climb, the Col de Ornon, but then the eventual winner passed me and had 30 seconds at top and he had 60 seconds at bottom of Alpe D'Huez. But that turned into 6 minutes by the top and I came into T2 in 5th place. I really struggled up the Alpe and was almost 7 minutes slower for the climb than I have done previously here! On the run I kept it conservative due to the 1800m elevation and being tired. But still closed on 2nd and 3rd all the time. Finally had them in sight in final 3 km but Scott DeFillipis was right behind me too. I thought I'd get 3rd and Scott would get me but I got 2nd and I held off Scott to the line," said James Cunnama to slowtwitch. "Would have preferred the win, and better pacing on bike may have gotten me that, but it was first time racing in 3 years (well 2 years ago I ended my race with a crash) so I guess I forgot how long and hard it was!"
2013 champion Mary Beth Ellis swam very well and her 31:05 swim gave her an almost 7.5 minute advantage over Emma Pooley and 6.5 minutes over Jeanne Collonge, two women well known for their bike prowess.
Pooley did not disappoint and stormed to the lead on the bike with a race best 4:08:38 bike split, 10 minutes quicker than Ellis and 11 better than Collonge.
Pooley also had a very fast 1:30:37 run and that give her the title in 6:21:48. Ellis hung on tough to capture second place in 6:27:45, and Collonge who ran just over 1:35 took the final podium spot in 6:36:07.
"Alpe d'Huez is a once in a lifetime race that should be on every triathlete's bucket list. It starts with a lake swim in chilly glacier run off moves to 115k bike with three mountain passes and over 12,000 ft of climbing and finished with a little half marathon on top of Alp d'Huez.
I've done this race four times and love it even when I am grunting my way up the climbs," said Mary Beth Ellis. "This year I made an amateur error and road my 55-42 Rotor crank. I really struggled with that gearing up the final climb with a cadence of about 50. My own stupidity cost me a chance at the win but at least I leave knowing I'm fitter than I was yesterday. Emma had a dominating performance, and I have a feeling she'll be collecting a few more titles here before she's done."
2015 Alpe D'Huez Triathlon
Alpe D'Huez, France / July 31, 2015
2.2k swim / 115k bike / 22k run
1. Arnaud Guilloux (FRA) 5:55:14
2. James Cunnama (RSA) 5:57:04
3. Scott DeFillipis (USA) 5:57:27
4. Sven Van Luyck (BEL) 5:58:05
5. Colin Arros (FRA) 5:59:02
1. Emma Pooley (GBR) 6:21:48
2. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 6:27:45
3. Jean Collonge (FRA) 6:36:07
4. Ester Hernandez (ESP) 6:55:34
5. Carrie Lester (AUS) 7:03:51
Word has it that both Cunnama and Ellis rode to the event from Leysin in Switzerland and then rode back to Leysin after the race.