After years of leading bike splits followed by frustrating runs, cycling star Andrew Yoder followed his usual killer bike split with a decent run to win Ironman 70.3 Syracuse. In the women's contest, Lauren Goss dominated the women’s field to win her third straight race.
Ever since he burst upon the Olympic distance triathlon scene as a teenage prodigy in 2008 who dominated the bike leg and held on for several podium finishes in the next few years, triathlon experts have been waiting for the arrival of Andrew Yoder on top of the podium at the 70.3 distance. In 2010 he seemed on the verge with a win at Columbia and a 3rd at Eagleman 70.3, but his comfort zone remained in the shorter distances as in 2011 he won Olympic distance races Philadelphia, Columbia, Kemah and Giant Eagle, and in 2013, he took 3rd places at Columbia and Rev3 Knoxville.
This year, Yoder has taken dead aim at the middle distances, which many figured would best fit his brilliant biking strength. In January, he rode to the front pack against a top international field at Auckland 70.3 but fell out of contention on the run. Against the world-class field at St. George 70.3, Yoder rode to the front, and was top 3 at T2 before falling out of the top 10 on the run. At the slightly short of 70.3 distance Rev3 Knoxville, Yoder set the fastest bike split and, in a promising development, held on for 4th place not far behind stars Tim Don, Cam Dye and Kevin Collington. At Eagleman 70.3, he rode past Andrew Starykowicz for a time before settling for 2nd at T2, then faded to 8th on the run.
On this day, Yoder emerged from the swim at the end of a six-man pack, 13 seconds behind leader Ben Collins, 11 seconds behind James Seear and close behind Barrett Brandon, John Polson, and Sam Douglas.
On the bike leg, Yoder unleashed a dominating 2:07:50 split that was 2:47 better than the next best bike split of Jordan Rapp, 4 to 5 minutes better than Seear, Cody Beals and Paul Ambrose, and 8 minutes better than Lionel Sanders and Ben Collins. Yoder started the run with a 4:04 lead on Seear, 4:08 on Rapp, 6 minutes on Ambrose, 6:02 on Beals, 7:57 on Collins and 11:32 on Sanders.
Given his history, Yoder was still vulnerable to Seear, Rapp, Ambrose and Beals. But as things worked out, Yoder’s 1:19:29 run split outran Seear (1:19:38), Rapp (1:23:43) and Ambrose (1:21:16) and gave up just 50 seconds to Beals. Lionel Sanders unleashed a scary-fast 1:09:54 split that took back 9:34 from Yoder but that still left the Canadian in the runner-up slot, 1:50 behind Yoder. Ben Collins, who posted the second-best run split of 1:14:19, took the final slot on the podium, 2:42 back of Yoder.
Yoder thus fulfilled the promise that Andrew Starykowicz saw in him at Eagleman: “Andrew is so talented on the bike and he is so smooth. … He is the future for the United States. Just watching him ride the few times he was ahead of me, I thought he is the real deal.”
Lauren Goss led wire-to-wire, dominating the women's field with a race-best 25:10 swim, race-fastest 2:29:07 bike split and race-best 1:24:49 run to finish in 4:22:21 with a 10:40 margin of victory over runner-up Darbi Roberts and 12:35 over 3rd place finisher Beth Shutt.
Goss’s 25:10 swim was 19 seconds better than Roberts, 54 seconds better than ITU veteran Carla Moreno of Brazil, 2:10 better than Jenny Fletcher and Miranda Tomensen, and 4-plus minutes better than Heather Leiggi, Beth Shutt and Kirsty Smith.
After the bike leg, Goss led Roberts by 3:57, Shutt by 5:27, Leiggi by 9:51, Fletcher by 10:00 and Tomensen by 11:32. If there were any doubters, Goss eliminated them with her 1:24:49 run that was 51 second better than Kirsty Smith, who was trailing by 17 minutes at T2, and 7 minutes better than chief rivals Darbi Roberts, Beth Shutt, Heather Leiggi (4th) and Miranda Tomensen (5th), who all posted 1:31 splits.
Prior to Syracuse, Goss finished 5th at Rev3 Knoxville, 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Florida, and wins at 5i50s in New Orleans and Mt. Tremblant.
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
Syracuse, New York
June 22, 2014
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Lauren Goss (USA) 4:22:21
2. Darbi Roberts (USA) 4:33:01
3. Beth Shutt (USA) 4:34:56
4. Heather Leiggi (USA)4:39:09
5. Miranda Tomensen (CAN) 4:40:20
1. Andrew Yoder (USA) 3:53:53
2. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:55:43
3. Ben Collins (USA) 3:56:35
4. James Seear (AUS) 3:58:01
5. Cody Beals (CAN) 3:59:00
6. Paul Ambrose (GBR) 4:01:31
7. Jordan Rapp (USA) 4:02:24