Superb racing in Las Vegas

Sebastian Kienle took charge of the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championships on the bike and stormed to the win in course record time of 3:54:35. Leanda Cave took the women's title with a similar plan of action.

The men

Josh Amberger had the fastest swim split among the Pro men, but he had a bunch of fast men right on his heels, including but not limited to Clayton Fettell, Michael Raelert, Timothy O'Donell and Paul Matthews.

Defending champion Craig Alexander had lost about 30 seconds to Potts during the swim, but he moved into the lead of the bike fairly soon. But an even speedier cyclist was lurking a bit further back. Sebastian Kienle from Germany soon made his presence known and took charge of the race. Alexander though was driving hard and with him were Bevan Docherty, Filip Ospaly, Greg Bennett, Faris Al-Sultan, Christian Kemp, Potts, Amberger and O'Donnell. But as Kienle extended his lead towards the end of the bike segment, Alexander also managed to whittle down that group around him, and Ospaly, Kemp, Al-Sultan and Bennett all lost time. Michael Raelert had collected a penalty on the course and reached the bike-run transition more than 7 minutes behind fellow German Kienle.

Starting the run Kienle had a 2:49 advantage over Alexander, Potts and Amberger, a few more seconds on O'Donnell and Docherty, and 4:19 on Bennett. Alexander ran with O'Donnell and Docherty soon and the three athletes started to eat into the lead of the German, but the defiant Kienle made it very hard for them. First Alexander dropped O'Donnell, and then 8 miles into the run Docherty was no longer able to keep pace. At the 10-mile marker Kienle still had a 1:45 lead and looked good, but Alexander was pushing hard behind him. No one though would catch Kienle, and the fast German proved that he isn't just a fast cyclist. He stormed to the World Championship title in course record time of 3:54;35, with a very gracious Alexander coming in second place and Docherty third, just a few seconds ahead of ODonnell.

The women

Jodie Swallow was the first female Pro out of the water in 25:26, but the fastest female swim split was posted by USAT age group national champion Haley Chura in a later wave in 25:16. Kelly Williamson, Leanda Cave and Meredith Kessler were the next female Pros out of the water in just over 26 minutes, and now the race was on.

Leanda Cave methodically moved to the front of the affair on the bike and about 35 miles into the segment she had a 30 second lead over Swallow and Heather Jackson, and about 45 over defending champion Melissa Hauschildt. But behind them the gap was quite large with Lisa Marangon at 4:20, and Emma Kate Lidbury and Angela Naeth at 5 minutes. Cave then increased the pressure and only Jackson was able to keep pace and 43 miles into the segment her lead was 44 seconds over Jackson, 1:19 over Swallow and a strong 3:55 over Hauschildt. Over the last 13 miles Cave managed to finally dispatch Jackson and now had a 2:14 advantage going into the run.

Cave ran very steady too and 3 miles into the final segment she kept both Jackson and Hauschildt at about the same gap she had coming off the bike, but from there she started to gain time. A bit further back though a fast running Kelly Williamson started to move up and that made the last few miles of the run quite interesting. Williamson actually got reasonably close, but in the end not close enough and Cave took the win and the 70.3 World Championship title in 4:28:05. For Cave that is her third World title having previously won the ITU World Championships in Cancun, Mexico in 2002 and the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Lorient, France in 2007.

Williamson finished a well deserved second and the very tough Jackson rounded out the podium with a stellar performance all day.

Ironman World Championships 70.3
Las Vegas, NV, USA / September 9, 2012
1.2m swim / 56m bike / 13.1m run

Top men

1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:54:35 *
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:55:36
3. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:56:25
4. Tim O'Donnell (USA) 3:56:35
5. Andy Potts (USA) 3:56:54

Top women

1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:28:05
2. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:29:24
3. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:32:32
4. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:35:13
5. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:36:08

* course record