Van Lierde, Felt in France

2011 Abu Dhabi Triathlon champion Frederik Van Lierde added an Ironman title to his resume with a superb performance at Ironman France. German Pro Silvia Felt also won her first Ironman title in Nice after a few fine other results.

Frederik Van Lierde, who had finished in second place here last year, set the pace during the swim and was first out of the beautiful waters in Nice with about a minute lead over all other challengers including defending champion Marcel Zamora.

The Belgian who also had won 70.3 South Africa earlier this year was chased hard by local favorite and previous Ironman France champion Francois Chabaud. About 40k into the bike segment Chabaud caught Van Lierde and the 2 athletes pulled further and further away from the rest of the field. Eventually the 2 Pros from neighboring countries reached the bike-run transition only a second apart but with an almost 15 minute advantage over third placed Brit Paul Amey and over 17 on the defending champion Zamora Perez. Along the way Chabaud had recorded a race best 4:41:03 time compared to Van Lierde's 4:42:00.

Once on the run though Van Lierde was clearly faster and he started to distance himself from Chabaud. The Belgian soon had enough of a lead over all pursuers that only a complete bonk session would have stopped him from winning. For a while it even appeared that the Belgian might crack the course record time but in the end his time of 8:28:30 was just about 3 minutes slower than the record of 8:25:29 but plenty fast to take his first Ironman title.

"Nice is the greatest place to win an Ironman, and especially when it's your first one," said Van Lierde to slowtwitch. "I was glad that we (Chabaud) were together on the bike. I knew he was in great shape after his third place in Kraichgau, but I was still confident in my own shape."

Joanna Daumas started her day in Nice with a 51:27 swim and that gave the French Pro an almost 4 minute advantage over the next female Pro and many of the favorites had lost even more time.

Daumas was also cruising on the bike, pretty much keeping pace or bettering most of the Pros behind her with her 5:22:36 split on the difficult Nice course, but Silvia Felt who had started the bike segment 10 minutes after the French athlete had a race best 5:14:06 split that brought her back to transition very close to the leader. Britta Martin, another German Pro, had the next best bike time of 5:16:19 and reached the bike-run transition in third position. Jeanne Collogne was next about 4:14 later, but the rest of the field had lost at least 14 minutes to the front of the race.

It didn't take Felt very long to take the lead and from there the German ran fast to took the win and with it her first Ironman title. Italian Martina Dogana finished second and Martin crossed the line in third place, but she was later disqualified for failing to obey an official during the bike segment. That allowed American Kim Loeffler to take 3rd and the final podium spot, and long time race leader Daumas dropped ended up in 4th place.

"I caught her in T2 so I was able to start the marathon as the first woman. The first two loops I was still feeling the strong girls in my back, and I knew the strength of Martina and Britta," said Felt. "During loop 3 when there were about 6 minutes between me and my chasers I had a good feeling to get the second podium, but I was not 100% sure what kind of podium place. Approaching the finish line with 2km to go I started to realize that I would be on my way to get my first Ironman win."

Ironman France
Nice, France / June 26, 2011
2.4m swim / 112m bike / 26.2m run

Top men

1. Federik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:28:30
2. Francois Chabaud (FRA) 8:37:18
3. Marcel Zamora Perez (ESP) 8:40:55
4. Paul Amey (GBR) 8:47:03
5. Sergio Marques (POR) 8:59:55
6. Didier Barandi (FRA) 8:53:29
7. Trevor Delsaut (FRA) 8:54:59
8. Domenico Passuello (ITA) 9:03:34
9. Alejandro Santamaria Perez (ESP) 9:07:39
10. Guillaume Gillodts (FRA) 9:12:57 * AG M35-39

Top women

1. Silvia Felt (GER) 9:34:31
2. Martina Dogana (ITA) 9:45:26
3. Kim Loeffler (USA) 9:53:08
4. Johanna Daumas (FRA) 9:53:29
5. Jeanne Collonge (FRA) 10:04:05
6. Katya Meyers (USA) 10:07:04
7. Heather Gollnick (USA) 10:18:13
8. Jasmina Glad (FIN) 10:19:05 * AG W30-34
9. Alexandra Louison (FRA) 10:20:39
10. Christine Hemphill (AUS) 10:22:40