Close Finishes Highlight 70.3 Les Sables D'Olonne--Vendée

The professional fields did not seem bothered racing one day early to accommodate the snap parliamentary elections taking place in France on June 30th. Run battles were a feature of both the men’s and women’s races. In the women’s race, it was Denmark’s Laura Madsen who secured the victory. Madsen came off of the bike in a large lead pack but used an efficient transition to get onto the run with one other athlete. She would go on to run a steady 1:19:31 to get to the finish line in first. The top-5 finishers in the men’s race were separated by less than 2 minutes. Rico Bogen, after his recent sprint finish with Martin Van Riel at T100 San Francisco, looked like he would run away with the victory. He built a small lead in the early kilometers of the run but was eventually overtaken by Germany’s Nicolas Mann. Mann ran 1:11:12 to break the tape. After an injury riddled 2023, Mann is now 2 for 2 in IRONMAN 70.3 racing in 2024. He convincingly won 70.3 Mallorca in May and then took down a class field here.

Women’s Race:

Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira led 5 women through the swim in 22:04. She pulled along Luisa logna Prat, Caroline Pohle, Kate Curran, and Julie Iemmolo. Marjolaine Pierre was just off of the group in 22:35. Laura Madsen came out of the water in 9th in 23:11. Maja Stage Nielson was 10th in 23:31. Nikki Bartlett was back in 13th in 23:43. Pohle got onto the bike first and led a large group through the early kilometers. By halfway, the group ballooned to 12 riders. Only 3 riders fell off from there to the bike finish. Madsen was first off of the bike, followed closely by Charlene Clavel. Nielsen, Pohle, Pierre, Bartlett, Curran, Kaidi Kivioja, and Emillie Morier, came off of the bike next. With such a large group coming off of the bike together, the first and last rider were separated by 25 seconds. Positioning would be crucial heading out onto the run. Madsen and Clavel got out of T2 first. Four women, Madsen, Bartlett, Clavel, and Curran, eventually joined together by the halfway mark. Clavel would be the first to fall off of the pace. By the 16k mark, Madsen had accelerated forward and put a gap on Bartlett and Curran. That order would hold to the finish line. Madsen won in 4:05:51, running 1:19:31 to become the 70.3 Les Sables Champion. Bartlett actually outran Madsen by 3 seconds but finished 2nd, 40 seconds in arrears. The race was lost in positioning at the bike finish and speed through T2. Transition is often called the 4th discipline and it certainly impacted today’s race. Curran rounded out the podium in 3rd. Clavel, one of the main aggressors throughout the day, hung on for 4th. Pohle was 5th.

Men’s Race:

South Africa’s Nicholas Quenet was first out of the water in 20:02. 13 men were within 24 seconds of the lead, including most of the big names. Johannes Vogel, Rico Bogen, Youri Keulen, Clement Mignon, and Nicolas Mann, were all in the main group. Norway’s Gustav Iden, still working his way back to the top of the sport, came out 1:14 down in 16th place. Quenet breezed through T1 and got onto the bike first. Bogen and Keulan eventually got to the front of the race and began pushing the pace. 8 men remained in contention through the halfway point of the bike. Only 1 rider would fall off before the end of the ride. A group of 7 entered into T2 together. Bogen and Mann immediately went to the front of the run. Bogen, maybe not wanting to get himself into another sprint finish, gapped Mann by 30 seconds at the 8k mark. By 12k, however, Mann would catch back up and the pair was running side by side. Mann broke Bogen over the next few kilometers and would go on to take the win in 3:39:48. Mann put together the fastest run split of the day, clocking a 1:11:12. Keulen and Mignon moved up to 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Bogen faded to 4th. Vogel took 5th. Iden was back in 13th, after coming off of the bike in 10th.