Nicolas Mann and Emma Pallant-Browne Surge to Victory at 70.3 Mallorca

Nicolas Mann looked over his shoulder dozens of times in the last kilometer, as he made his way towards the finish line at 70.3 Mallorca. Mathis Margirier was the early aggressor in this race, building up a 1:00 lead on the bike and extending that lead early in the run. Mann, fellow countryman Jan Stratmann, and Italian Gregory Barnaby rolled up on a fading Margirier with less than 3k to go. Mann was able to find enough to hold off Stratmann and Barnaby to take the win. Margirier would end up off the podium in 4th. After the race Mann said, “It was only 8 seconds (his gap to Stratmann) and I couldn’t go 1 second faster…I’m so glad that I made it.” He thought that a top-5 finish would be a good result today, calling this the best field he has been in outside of the 2023 70.3 World Championships. Mann won 70.3 Marbella in 2023 but could not replicate that kind of success the rest of his season. He finished just 39th at the 70.3 World Championships. You could tell how much it meant for the 24 year old German to win his 2024 season opener.

Emma Pallant-Browne and Laura Philipp were the class of the women’s field. The duo came out of the water together in the chase pack but quickly made their way to the front of the bike. It was Philipp that would carry a more than 2:00 lead into T2. Would that be enough to hold off one of the best runners in the sport? Pallant-Browne took ~1:15 out of Philipp’s lead after the first lap of the 3 lap run course. A late race pass started to look more and more realistic with each kilometer after that. Philipp held off Pallant-Browne the best she could but was eventually caught around the 15k mark. Pallant-Browne would go on to win in 4:14:21. Philipp did a good job of maintaining contact in the closing kilometers of the race to finish just 15 seconds back.

Men’s Race:

Italy’s Mattia Ceccarelli took out the swim in 21:57, with Johannes Vogel and Jan Stratmann on his feet. Ceccarelli was at the front of another Pro Series race, after swimming 2nd in Oceanside and 5th in Texas. A big group including T100 Singapore Champion Youri Keulen, Mathis Margirier, Gregory Barnaby, Kristian Hogenhaug, Mathias Petersen, Nicolas Mann, Gustav Iden, and Patrick Lange, were all within a minute of the lead. A large bike pack quickly formed consisting of Petersen, Mann, Margirier, Stratmann, Vogel, Ceccarelli, Barnaby, Iden, and Hogenhaug. Lange was off of the front pack early. Keulen and Iden would be the first casualties of the day, with both of them dropping out of the race on the bike. Denmark’s Hogenhaug was the first to break things up on the bike. After a difficult 2023, he finished 2nd at his season opener in Gran Canaria in April. Margirier, Stratmann, Barnaby, and Mann, however, would not let him get away and would close down that small gap. Margirier used the big downhill on the bike after 35k to get to the front of the race. By T2, he had built up a 1:00 lead on Stratmann, Mann, Barnaby, and Hogenhaug. Everyone else in the field was more than 4:30 behind.

After the first lap of the run course, Margirier looked like he was on his way to an easy victory. He extended his lead from 1:00 to 1:15. On the second and third laps, he started to get into some trouble as his chasers began to pull some time back. With less than 3 kilometers to go, Margirier’s day was over and he was passed by Mann, Stratmann, and Barnaby. Mann and Stratmann were in the lead, running stride for stride. Mann was able to gap Stratmann by a handful of seconds and kept looking over his shoulder in the final minutes to see if he had done enough damage to get away. Mann was able to secure the win, with the podium being separated by just 23 seconds. Stratmann was 2nd, just 8 seconds back. He was 3rd at 70.3 Worlds in 2023, after battling with Margirier for much of that race. Barnaby, coming off of an injury, took bronze. Margirier faded to 4th. Hogenhaug came in 5th.

Women’s Race:

A 5 woman lead pack, including Julie Iemmolo, Sif Bendix Madsen, Luisa Iogna Prat, Stephanie Clutterbuck, and Bianca Bogen, came together on the swim. Laura Philipp and Emma Pallant-Browne swam together in the chase pack a little more than 1 minute behind. Pallant-Browne used the long run into T1 to chip away at her deficit. By 15k of the bike, Pallant-Browne and Philipp were at the front of the race with Clutterbuck, Iemmolo, Madsen, Bogen, and Prat. After the main climb, which comes around the 35k mark, Philipp and Pallant-Browne were clear by 3:00. Philipp did her best to try to drop Pallant Browne and gapped her by more than 2:00 heading into T2. Philipp split 2:23:57 on the bike. Madsen was the best of the chase pack and entered T2 down 4:00. The rest of the chasers were nearly 7:00 down.

Philipp and Margirier both built up big leads on the bike and both were eventually caught late in the race. In Philipp’s case, however, there was no blow up. She ran a respectable 1:19:31. Pallant-Browne was just better. Pallant-Browne took 1:15 out of Philipp’s lead on the first lap of the run and eventually caught Philipp around the 15k mark. Philipp buckled down and did not give up the lead without a fight. The gap only reached 15 seconds but that was enough for Pallant-Browne to run to the win. She set a new run course record of 1:17:00 in the process. Sweden’s Sara Svensk used a 1:21:16 run to take the final podium spot. After the race Pallant-Browne said, “The run was quite tough the first lap but then I got into my groove.” It might not have looked like it but Pallant-Browne had to dig to make the catch today. On her race, Philipp added, “I might have burned some matches in the early stages of the race.” Philipp might have pushed too hard too early on the bike but this performance is still a marked improvement over her 4th place finish at 70.3 Valencia last month.

Quick Take #1: Gustav Iden, unfortunately, is not back. Iden was coy during his pre race remarks about his chances at this race. He said that he was not going to be near the front of the race but that he was here to see how he stacked up against good competition. He had a strong swim but then dropped out before the halfway point of the bike. Iden has had a string of hardships, including the loss of his mother, injury, and being left off of the Norwegian Olympic team for Paris. We are all rooting for him to get back to his 2022 form, which saw him win the IRONMAN World Championship.

Quick Take #2: The championship races will separate things out for the IRONMAN Pro Series contenders. It seems like there are enough 70.3 races on the calendar for good athletes to take full points or finish close enough to the winning time. The standings will move around during the early season races, as more and more athletes get on the board.

Quick Take #3: To the above point, Pallant-Browne moved up 17 spots into 8th in the Pro Series standings. Lange leads the men’s standings. Schuster moved up 8 places into 2nd. Ceccarelli is up 26 spots into 8th.

Photos: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez for IRONMAN