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IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 2023 Women’s Results: Taylor Knibb wins again!

Taylor Knibb, the defending champion, took her second consecutive IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships title in Finland.

Staff Reporter
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Just over a week after securing qualification to her second Olympic Games following a fourth place performance at the Paris Olympic Test Event, American Taylor Knibb proved once more that she is among the most versatile athletes in triathlon as she secured her second IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship win to secure back-to-back middle distance titles.

Having been a fixture at the front of the race from start to finish, Knibb was untouchable across all three disciplines as she exited the water on the feet of the lead group, powered away from the rest of the field on the bike and consolidated her lead with a strong run split to extend her reign as world champion.

Behind, Britain’s Kat Matthews took second place with a fantastic run split, as Switzerland’s Imogen Simmonds managed to hang on to third place after going with Knibb in the early stages and running her way on to the podium ahead of last year’s third place finisher Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR).

Swim – Buckingham pushes the pace

At the front of the race, a small group of five exited the water with around a minute lead to the main pack, after the swim start was delayed by half an hour due to heavy fog on race morning. Leading out of the water was Team BMC athlete Lucy Buckingham (GBR), followed closely by Knibb and Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira, as Caroline Pohle of Germany and Simmonds came out +0:10 down.

Australian Ellie Salthouse, who has started to come into form recently, was the next athlete into transition at +1:22, as she led a group of ten athletes including the likes of Matthews, Holly Lawrence and Pallant-Browne, plus multiple time world champion Daniela Ryf (SUI).

Last year’s runner-up Paula Findlay also made the chase group, with World Long Distance Champion Marjolaine Pierre in the next pack at a deficit of +2:00 with fellow countrywoman Emilie Morier, Lottie Lucas and Maja Stage Nielsen. Finally, Laura Philipp of Germany was +2:42 out of the water, with a lot of work to do on the bike and run.

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Bike – Knibb breaks free

Out of transition, Buckingham led the front group, but by the 14.3km mark, the original pack of five had been whittled down to just two, as Knibb began to put the power down. Simmonds, fourth place at last week’s PTO Tour Asian Open in Singapore, was the only athlete who decided to go with the American.

By the next timing checkpoint at the 28.2km mark, Simmonds was still hanging in there, but Knibb had started to pull herself and the Swiss athlete away from the chasers. Ryf and Findlay, who were leading the chase pack and had caught the likes of Oliveria, Buckingham and Pohle, were now +2:15 from the front.

After dropping Simmonds before the halfway mark, Knibb powered on by herself and continued to grow her lead, with the gap back to a chase pack that included considerable firepower on the bike now up to +3:15 at 50km. Simmonds, who continued to ride well, was clear of the chasers but by now +1:15 from the lead.

As the chase pack was reduced to just Matthews, Ryf, Findlay and Pallant-Browne, up front Knibb and Simmonds were both riding excellently, with the American in particular containing to open up a gap that for even the fastest runners in the field would be unassailable by the time they got off the bike. At 82.5km, the deficit to Knibb was +2:08 for Simmonds and +4:56 for the chasing quartet.

Rolling into transition having recorded a magnificent 2:07:52 bike split, over two minutes quicker than anyone else in the field, Knibb looked great heading out on to the run, with her lead now over two minutes to Simmonds in second and five minutes to the chasers. Further back, Philipp was seven minutes down in seventh, with other quick runners such as Pierre and Jewett out of contention, more than ten minutes behind.

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Run – Knibb goes back-to-back

Immediately on the run course, Knibb made it clear that this was not going to be a case of holding on, as she attacked the run course and started extending her lead over Simmonds, who from the beginning of the run looked to be more focused on staying away from the chasers behind her than reeling in Knibb up front.

Halfway through the run, Knibb had +4:00 to Simmonds and looked set to take her second consecutive title bar disaster, as Matthews and Pallant-Browne broke away from the rest of the chase pack to hunt down Simmonds in second and secure a spot on the podium.

As the battle for the podium intensified, Matthews, who prior to the race would perhaps not have been thought of as a quicker runner than Pallant-Browne, began to move clear from her compatriot and chase down Simmonds on her own. Catching the Swiss athlete and moving into second at the 18km mark, Matthews was powering towards her first ever middle-distance world championships podium.

Taylor Knibb wins IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2023
[Photo Credit – Nigel Roddis Getty Images for IRONMAN]

Taking the tape after a remarkable race, Knibb capped off an incredible month of racing, which started with a win on home soil at the PTO Tour US Open in Milwaukee, before securing qualification to her second Olympic Games before then finishing August with a brilliant win to take back-to-back world titles at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.

Behind Knibb, Matthews finished in second place, as the Brit was all smiles coming down the finishing straight ahead of Switzerland’s Simmonds, with Pallant-Browne just missing out on back-to-back podiums by less than a minute.

IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 2023 Results

Saturday August 26, 2023 – Lahti, Finland

PRO Women

  • 1. Taylor Knibb (USA) – 3:53:02
  • 2. Kat Matthews (GBR) – 3:57:05
  • 3. Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 3:57:56
  • 4. Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR) – 3:58:35
  • 5. Paula Findlay (CAN) – 4:00:32
  • 6. Laura Philipp (GER) – 4:02:27
  • 7. Marjolaine Pierre (FRA) – 4:03:13
  • 8. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) – 4:03:29
  • 9. Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 4:03:57
  • 10. Anne Reichsmann (GER) – 4:06:18
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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