Vincent Luis (FRA) showed that he has really managed to turn his fortunes around with his third win in not much over a month, as the former two-time ITU World Champion won IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain alongside compatriot Marjolaine Pierré (FRA).
But women’s race favourite Holly Lawrence (GBR) sounds to have been desperately unfortunate after riding an extra four miles during the bike leg which saw her lose a clear lead.
Pro Men – Luis dominates
Out of the water, Luis entered T1 with a healthy 25 second advantage over a chase pack of four that included either current or former ITU specialists Sam Dickinson (GBR), Maximillian Sperl (GER), Andreas Salvisberg (SUI) and Alessandro Fabian (ITA).
The major threats on the bike, which consisted mainly of long course veterans, such as Antonio Benito Lopez (ESP), who was 2nd at IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea in August, and Pieter Heemeryck (BEL), who recently went toe-to-toe with Magnus Ditlev at IRONMAN Cozumel until the run, were back +0:49 and +1:54 respectively.
Over the 90km bike course, the ITU specialists continued to make their mark on the race, as they kept the pressure on the chasers as Luis, Salvisberg, Sperl, Dickinson and Gabriel Sandor (SWE), who managed to bridge up, worked well togethor to come into T2 with a sizeable gap over the rest of the field, with over a minute back to 6th place Filipe Azevedo (POR).
Luis, who won Challenge Daytona last Friday, left no doubt in anyone’s mind who was the strongest performer, as he ripped through the opening two miles to open up a 40 second gap by the time he was 5km through the run. By halfway, his advantage to second was over a minute and the race quickly became one for the minor places.
In the race for second and third, Dickinson put in a decisive move at 10km and was never caught, as he finished runner-up in a strong field on his debut IRONMAN 70.3, with Maximillian Sperl, who raced Super League just two months ago, coming home in third place as he held off a fast finishing Lopez to round out the podium.
Pro Women – ‘Scary’ detour for Lawrence
After a stressful week, which involved not getting her bike until just days before the race, it was a relief to see Holly Lawrence (GBR) toe the start line. In typical fashion, the Brit was at the fore from the off, as she made use of the presence of ITU specialist Natalie Van Coeverden (AUS) to get away from the rest of the field in the swim, the pair coming out of the water +1:47 ahead of Lottie Lucas (UAE).
Behind the leading duo and Lucas, the rest of the field were a long way behind, with Marjolaine Pierré (FRA) over three minutes down and the remainder of the field with a deficit of over five minutes to the front coming out of T1 and onto the bikes.
Lawrence, who is known for her exceptional bike prowess, quickly built up a lead over Van Coeverden and maintained a healthy three minute advantage over Lucas and Pierré in the opening stages of the bike.
Whilst her lead continued to grow up to halfway, things took a significant turn for the worse for Lawrence. Her Bahrain Victorious Team posted on social media that she was “led the wrong way by moto”, in an incident that saw her ride an extra four miles, lose her advantage and come into T2 +1:45 down on Diede Diederiks (NED), Pierré and Lucas.
Out on the run, Pierré took the lead from Diederiks after 6km, as the young Frenchwoman made her mark on the race and held on over the final few miles to keep a fast-finishing Van Coeverden at bay. The Australian, who was racing her first IRONMAN 70.3 since 2018, capped off her season with a great second place, as Diederiks was rewarded for her efforts on the bike with third.
Lawrence was less than five minutes adrift in fourth place and posted on Instagram: “Can’t talk about it yet… sorry if you saw me angry out there – was very stressful and honestly scary riding amongst all the cars on the highway and trying to find a way to get back on the course! This race was doomed from the start for me!”
IRONMAN 70.3 Bahrain 2022 Results
Friday 9 December 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Vincent Luis (FRA) – 3:38:02
- 2. Samuel Dickinson (GBR) – 03:40:01
- 3. Maximillian Sperl (GER) – 03:40:35
- 4. Antonio Benito Lopez (ESP) – 03:41:15
- 5. Gabriel Sandor (SWE) – 03:41:50
- 6. Andreas Salvisberg (SUI) – 03:42:46
- 7. Pięter Heemeryck (BEL) – 03:45:25
- 8. Marcus Herbst (GER) – 03:48:04
- 9. James Scott-Farrington (GBR) – 03:49:45
- 10. Alessandro Fabian (ITA) – 03:52:43
- 1. Marjolaine Pierré (FRA) – 04:05:54
- 2. Natalie Van Coeverden (AUS) – 4:07:11
- 3. Diede Diederiks (NED) – 04:07:43
- 4. Holly Lawrence (GBR) – 04:10:34
- 5. Lottie Lucas (UAE) – 04:17:01
- 6. Tiina Pohjalainen (FIN) – 04:17:58
- 7. Shiva Leisner (DEN) – 04:39:52
- 8. Frankie Sanjana (GBR) – 04:56:03