Lucy Charles-Barclay ended the wait to win a world title as a professional triathlete as she romped to a sensational victory in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 2021 in St George, Utah.
Three days after turning 28, Lucy went one better after three second places at Kona and one in 70.3 Worlds to destroy a deep field in incredible style. She would produce the fastest splits in all three disciplines – utter dominance.
South African Jeanni Metzler claimed second spot with a fine display on the run to pass young American sensation Taylor Knibb in the closing stages.
Five-times winner Daniela Ryf saw her reign as 70.3 World Champion end as she was well beaten and out of the podium positions.
Britain had three women in the top five and five in the top 10 as Katrina Matthews claimed fourth and Emma Pallant-Browne fifth. Holly Lawrence finished eighth and Nikki Bartlett ninth.
Swim – Charles-Barclay blasts out
Charles-Barclay sliced through the ROKA swim course in terrific style and was clear at the front in short order. She would exit the water in 24:36 with an advantage of just under a minute-and-a-half from the chasing pack.
That group of chasers included some of the other leading contenders, notably 2016 winner Lawrence and American sensation Knibb.
Australian Ellie Salthouse was almost two-and-a-half minutes behind Charles-Barclay, just ahead of Ryf as the Swiss superstar headed for T1 in eighth position.
Pallant-Browne and Matthews, both fancied to go well, were more than three-and-a-half minutes off the pace heading for the bike leg. They were 14th and 15th respectively in the standings.
Bike – Lucy pours it on
Lucy maintained that furious pace on the bike, and after 20km Knibb was still almost two minutes back despite separating herself from the rest of the chasing pack. The big early mover on the bike was Ryf, moving up into third spot – though her deficit to Charles-Barclay was still around two-and-a-half minutes.
Any thoughts of Charles-Barclay’s advantage beginning to diminish were erased as she upped the pace to go through 35km with a lead of almost three minutes over Knibb with the relentless Ryf now just behind the American in third.
When the field reached 55km that advantage for Charles-Barclay was now significantly bigger, she was more than three minutes clear of Knibb and more than four ahead of Ryf. Sensational stuff with the field strung out courtesy of the brutal pace she was injecting.
Approaching 70km and Charles-Barclay continued to extend her advantage, she now led Knibb by 3:37 with Ryf almost five minutes back. Around six minutes behind Lucy came a group which included Lawrence, Salthouse, Pallant-Browne, Pamella Oliveira, Metzler, Matthews and Skye Moench.
The climb through Snow Canyon saw Knibb at last take a little bit of time out of Charles-Barclay – cutting it by around 20 seconds to 3:19 approaching 75km. Ryf meanwhile was still third but falling back (more than six minutes off the pace). Moench had moved into the top four but was almost seven minutes behind the leader.
Lucy stopped the clock at 2:14:59 for her bike split, almost five minutes clear of Knibb. That effort on the climb through Snow Canyon had clearly led to the young American paying a price on the descent. Her bike split was 2:18:27 – more than three minutes slower than Charles-Barclay. Ryf was exactly six minutes back in third, with Matthews now fourth.
Run – LCB reigns, Ryf fades
Charles-Barclay would have to fall apart to lose the race from here as she upped her lead over to Knibb to more than five minutes. The biggest story right now was unfolding behind her. In the shape of Ryf falling out of the podium positions as she was passed early on the run by Matthews, Pallant-Browne and Metzler.
At 5km on the run Charles-Barclay had again increased her lead to 5:51 over Knibb while Metzler had passed Matthews to move into third. Pallant-Browne was fifth with Ryf back in sixth.
By the time the field reached 14km (or Charles-Barclay to be more precise) she had stretched that lead to almost seven minutes over Knibb, who continued her forlorn pursuit in second. Metzler was still third ahead of Matthews and Pallant-Browne with the field well strung out, and looking a threat now to Knibb in second.
The only question now was whether Knibb would hold onto second or whether Metzler would pass her, while Charles-Barclay continued to romp towards that first world championship victory as a professional.
A smiling Lucy crossed the line in 4:00:20 after posting a run split of 1:18:48. She was more than eight minutes clear of Metzler, who passed the fading Knibb in the closing stages to claim second place.
IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 2021 Results
Saturday September 18, 2021 – St George, Utah
- Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) 4:00:20
- Jeanni Metzler (RSA) 4:08:39
- Taylor Knibb (USA) 4:08:50
- Katrina Matthews (GBR) 4:10:46
- Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR) 4:12:11
- Skye Moench (USA) 4:12:50
- Jackie Hering (USA) 4:15:03
- Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:16:03
- Nikki Bartlett (GBR) 4:16:18
- Anne Reischmann (GER) 4:17:11
- Daniela Ryf (SUI) 4:17:34