Michael Weiss won a home country victory on the strength of a dominating bike split while Mareen Hufe of Germany made a late race pass on Emma Pallant and held off a charge by Lisa Hütthaler of Austria to prevail at the 20th edition of Ironman Austria on a hot day at Klagenfurt.
Weiss overcame a 5:05 deficit after the swim with a sizzling fast 4:16:09 bike split on Klagenfurt’s silky smooth roads that was 9:36 faster than the next-best effort. With a T2 lead of 2:08 and 2:47 on Germans Lukasz Wojt and Johann Ackermann, and 12 minutes on top runners Andy Potts and David McNamee, Weiss banked a big lead with a first half marathon split of 1:18, then eased off. Weiss held off all rivals with the 4th-fastest 2:51:39 marathon to finish in 8:04:45 with an 8:36 margin of victory on fast-closing Ivan Tutukin of Russia (2:40:00 marathon) and 9:40 on 3rd-place finisher Andy Potts of the U.S.
The win was the culmination of a spate of strong results for the Austrian, coming after a 2nd at 2017 Ironman Cozumel, 2nd at 2018 Campeche 70.3, 3rd at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 North American Championship, and a win at 2018 St. Pölten 70.3. Weiss has been chasing the Ironman Austria title since 2010 and previously notched two 2nd place finishes (2011 and 2015), a 3rd (2010), a 4th (2016), a 5th (2017), and 8th (2014).
Despite over a decade of negative drug tests, Weiss not been able to shed the long shadow of a two-year suspension issued in November 2011 by the Austrian cycling federation based on testimony by a road cyclist that in 2005 Weiss visited a Vienna blood plasma laboratory while competing as a pro mountain biker. Weiss denied the charge but chose not to contest the ruling, stating that it would have required a lengthy and expensive legal defense.
Hufe began her day with a women’s 5th-best 55:43 swim that was 4:12 behind swim leader Beatrice Weiss but in a tight pack with eventual top rivals Susie Cheetham, Emma Pallant and Hütthaler. After a women’s-fastest 4:47:26 ride, Hufe entered T2 with a 2 seconds lead on Hütthaler (4:47:30 bike split), 3:54 on Pallant (4:51:52), and huge margins of 15:19 on Cheetham and 19:07 on Sara Svensk of Sweden.
Hütthaler and Hufe seized the initiative at the start of the run, carving out a 1:19 lead on Pallant, with Cheetham out of contention with a 13:19 deficit at 7.5km. Soon thereafter, Pallant zoomed past the H&H duo, taking a 30 seconds lead on Hufe and Hütthaler at 12.7km. By 17km, Palllant increased her lead to 1:12 on H&H. By 22.5 km, Pallant stretched her lead to 2:13 over Hütthaler and Hufe. By 27km Pallant had all the momentum with a 3 minute lead on the duo.
With 10 kilometers to go, the heat started to hit Pallant hard. With 5km to go, Hufe passed her for the lead, with Hütthaler 1 minute behind in third place. Six minutes later, Hütthaler passed a struggling Pallant to take second place.
After a women’s 4th-fastest 3:12:07 marathon, Hufe crossed the line in 9:00:32 with a 1:15 margin of victory over Hütthaler (3:13:08 run split) and 3:27 over 3rd place finisher Pallant (3:11:32 run). Cheetham closed with a women’s second-fastest 3:09:08 run to take 4th place, 12:13 behind the winner and 3:37 ahead of 5th place Emily Loughnan of Australia, who closed with the women’s fastest 3:08:32 run split.
Hufe’s win comes after a 4th place at Luxembourg 70.3 this year, and in 2017 a 1st at the City of Frankfurt half, 11th at Kona, and 6th places at Ironman Brazil and Ironman Western Australia.
Like fellow Austrian Michael Weiss, runner-up Hütthaler has been under the shadow of an 18-month suspension for use of EPO which she served nearly a decade ago.
July 1, 2018
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Michael Weiss (AUT) 8:04:45 S 52:04 T1 3:03 B 4:16:09 T2 1:53 R 2:51:39
2. Ivan Tutukin (RUS) 8:13:21 S 48:40 T1 3:00 B 4:39:35 T2 2:08 R 2:40:00
3. Andy Potts (USA) 8:14:25 S 47:04 T1 2:48 B 4:33:13 T2 1:53 R 2:49:28
4. David Plese (SLO) 8:16:01 S 51:55 T1 3:12 B 4:30:07 T2 1:51 R 2:48:59
5. Johann Ackermann (GER) 8:26:41 S 46:59 T1 3:20 B 4:23:45 T2 7:41 R 3:04:58
6. Lukasz Wojt (GER) 8:28:03
7. Thiago Vinhal (BRA) 8:30:36
8. Christian Haupt (GER) 8:32:45
9. Fredrik Bäckson (SWE) 8:37:34
10. Sebastian Norberg (SWE) 8:40:33
1. Mareen Hufe (GER) 9:02:32 T1 2:08 S 55:43 T1 3:11 B 4:47:26 T2 2:07 R 3:12:07
2. Lisa Hütthaler (AUT) 9:01:47 S 55:49 T1 3:03 B 4:47:30 T2 2:20 R 3:13:08
3. Emma Pallant (GBR) 9:03:59 S 55:39 T1 2:45 B 4:51:52 T2 2:12 R 3:11:32
4. Susie Cheetham (GBR) 9:12:45 S 55:38 T1 2:54 B 5:03:06 T2 2:01 R 3:09:08
5. Emily Loughnan (AUS) 9:16:22 S 54:02 T1 3:42 B 5:08:20 T2 1:49 R 3:08:32
6. Sara Svensk (SWE) 9:26:26
7. Simona Krivankova (CZE) 9:32:06
8. Kelly Fillnow (USA) 10:05:27
9. Jessie Donavan (USA) 10:06:26