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Van Lierde combined a 3rd-best swim, a 2nd-fastest bike leg and a 3rd-quickest run to finish in 8:31:31 with a 4:37 margin of victory over Alessandro Degasperi of Italy and 8:11 over 3rd-place finisher Denis Chevrot of France.
Van Lierde came out of the swim 3rd with a 4:01 advantage on Degasperi, and then surged to the lead with a second-best 4:39:00 bike leg. Van Lierde arrived at T2 with a 26 seconds lead on Cameron Wurf of Australia (race-best 4:35:14 bike split), 10:12 on Eneko Llanos of Spain, and a whopping 16:44 lead on Degasperi.
Van Lierde needed his big T2 cushion because Degasperi unleashed a sizzling 2:43:38 run that cut 13:41 from the Belgian’s lead.
The win was Van Lierde’s 4th at Ironman France after prior victories in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Lester combined a women’s 2nd-best 55:32 swim, women’s-best 5:19:12 bike split and women’s-fastest 3:06:14 run to finish in 9:27:53 with a 10:38 margin of victory over fellow Australian Annabel Luxford.
From the start, Lester and Luxford ran away from the women's field with their nearest rivals nearly half an hour arrears.
This was Lester’s 4th Ironman victory coming after 2010 Ironman Australia, 2012 Ironman Cairns and 2015 Ironman Chattanooga.
Denis Chevrot of France led the swim in 49:06 which gave him a 10 seconds lead on fellow Frenchman Etienne Diemunsch, 16 seconds on three-time Ironman France champion Frederik Van Lierde, 1:39 on Eneko Llanos of Spain, 4:16 on Alessandro Degasperi of Italy, 4:24 on Patrik Ericsson of Sweden, 4:26 on Frederic Limousin of France, and 4:33 on Cameron Wurf of Australia.
On the bike leg, Van Lierde quickly took charge by kilometer 28, taking a 58 seconds lead on Diemunsch, 1:51 on Chevrot, 3:15 on Llanos, 3:16 on Wurf, 6:37 on Degasperi, 8:25 on Ericsson, and 8:56 on Limousin. By 98 kilometers, Van Lierde led Wurf by 1:42, Llanos by 5:57, Diemunsch by 8:04, and Chevrot by 11:58. Superb runners Degasperi and defending champion Victor Del Corral of Spain had a lot of work to do to retain hope. By 140 kilometers Degasperi trailed by 16:49 and Del Corral lagged by 23:49.
After a 4:39:00 bike split on Nice’s challenging 2,000 meters of climbing and scary downhills, Van Lierde arrived at T2 with a 26 seconds lead on hard-charging Cameron Wurf (race-best 4:35:14 bike split), 10:12 on Llanos, 16:44 on Diemunsch, 17:49 on Chevrot, 18:24 on Degasperi, and 26:49 on Del Corral.
After 10.5km of the run, Van Lierde brushed off Wurf’s bike challenge, leading the Australian by 3:10. Further back were Llanos (+11:20), a hard-charging Degasperi (+15:28), Diemunsch (+16:33), and Chevrot (+16:53).
Halfway through the marathon, Van Lierde had the race fully under control, maintaining a 10:27 advantage on Llanos and 11:57 on Degasperi. Out of contention for the win were Chevrot (+14:08), Wurf (+23:16) and Del Corral (+26:43).
Six kilometers from the end, only Degasperi had a prayer as the Italian was flying and reduced Van Lierde’s lead to 6:28. Meanwhile, Chevrot and Llanos battled for third, 10:03 and 10:12 behind the leader.
Hats off to Rob Barel of Netherlands for his 28th overall and first in the 60-64 age group with a time of 9:56:01. Among his many accomplishments, Barel had two 4th place finishes at Kona, he finished 5th at the first ITU Olympic distance Worlds in 1989 and won bronze at the 1993 ITU Olympic distance Worlds. Barel won the Nice International Triathlon in 1994 and finished 2nd there in 1997. Barel qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Triathlon at age 42 where he finished 43rd .