Frederik Van Lierde and Michelle Vesterby won the elite titles at Ironman Cozumel.
Van Lierde, the 2013 Ironman World champion, started with a 6th-place 43:46 front pack swim, and then rode at the front for most of the 180km, 3-loop bike leg with Igor Amorelli of Brazil and Michael Weiss of Austria. Van Lierde carved out a 2:49 lead on Matt Russell by 35km of the run, and then withstood a final charge by Russell to finish in 8:03:09 with a 1:15 margin of victory on Russell and 6:02 over 3rd-place Chris Leiferman of the U.S.
Van Lierde thus found some redemption after a disappointing 10th place finish at Kona with his well-balanced swim, bike and 3rd-best 2:52:42 marathon on the idyllic island off Mexico’s Yucatan coast.
After a race-best 4:17:46 bike split that gave him a slight lead on Amorelli and Van Lierde at T2, Weiss managed a 2:59:55 run that kept him on a podium track until Leiferman cruised past after the 30km mark on his way to a 2:55:58 run split and 3rd place. Weiss took 4th, 1:33 back of Leiferman.
Jozsef Major of Hungary made up a lot of ground lost on the swim and bike with a race-best 2:46:50 run to finish 7th.
Michelle Vesterby and fellow Dane Camilla Pedersen raced like twins for the swim (50:30 and 50:26) and bike leg (4:54:14 and 4:54:16) before settling matters on the hot Cozumel pavement during the marathon. The Dynamic Danish Duo ran together for the first 10km before Pedersen made a surge to the front and carved out a 1:34 lead at the midway point. By 28km, Pedersen maintained a 90 seconds lead on Vesterby, but after that high point Vesterby counter-attacked and Pedersen felt the heat.
At 35km, Vesterby made the pass and Pedersen started slipping back into the field. At this point, Lauren Brandon of the U.S., who had charged up to 3rd place just 3:09 back of the leader, also reached her limit and started falling back to a 6:13 deficit.
In a chaotic back and forth, Brandon fought back and passed a fading Pedersen for second place, 4:37 back of Vesterby and 1:28 ahead of Pedersen.
After a women’s 3rd-best 3:19:18 marathon, Vesterby finished in 9:08:06 with a 4:37 margin of victory on Brandon (3:23:53 run), 6:05 on 3rd-place Pedersen, and 11:08 on defending champion Corinne Abraham, who took 4th after a women's-fastest 3:07:44 run.
November 27, 2016
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:03:09
2. Matt Russell (USA) 8:04:24
3. Chris Leiferman (USA) 8:09:11
4. Michael Weiss (AUT) 8:10:44
5. Chris McDonald (AUS) 8:15:59
6. Guilherme Manocchio (BRA) 8:19:26
7. Jozsef Major (HUN) 8:21:33
8. Karl-Johan Danielsson (SWE) 8:23:01
9. Miquel Blanchart Tinto (ESP) 8:24:44
10. Philipp Koutny (SUI) 8:29:16
1. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:08:06
2. Lauren Brandon (USA) 9:12:43
3. Camilla Pedersen (DEN) 9:14:11
4. Corinne Abraham (GBR) 9:19:14
5. Rachel McBride (CAN) 9:29:33
6. Celine Schaerer (SUI) 9:37:20
7. Kelly Fillnow (USA) 9:38:23
8. Rachel Hallam (GBR) 9:42:46 *F30-34
9. Nicole Valentine (USA) 9:43:261
10. Annett Finger (GER) 9:46:15