Holly Lawrence adds Silver to her 2016 Gold
Swiss podium double as Imogen Simmonds secures Bronze medal in France
“I really got pushed to my absolute maximum today and my absolute best, and you know that’s what World Championship races are about. I’m really happy I could come home with the win today.” That was the now five-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Daniela Ryf’s thoughts after claiming a fourth successive title on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on Saturday.
Having been working away all weekend at the British Triathlon Big Weekend at Mallory Park, I only got to see and follow snippets of what looked as if it was – as expected – fantastic racing on a challenging course. Here is the race report from IRONMAN – with more to come from Nice very soon.
UNIQUE, HISTORIQUE, LÉGENDAIRE: DANIELA RYF CLAIMS HISTORIC FIFTH IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE AS SHE RACES TO VICTORY IN NICE, FRANCE
The first day of the 2019 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship got underway on Saturday with an action-packed female professional race. Entering the day as the four-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Daniela Ryf (SUI) was the athlete to beat with Holly Lawrence (GBR) and Ryf’s fellow countryman Imogen Simmonds (SUI) taking up the fight for the podium. Having exited the water in seventh place, Ryf made quick work of the tough bike course to take control of the race and make her way to victory in 04:23:04. This historic win makes Ryf the first female to win five IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship titles and brings her total number of IRONMAN 70.3 and IRONMAN World Championship titles to nine – the most titles by any female athlete to date. Approximately 2,000 female athletes were registered to race in Day 1 of the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
After a week of hot weather and an afternoon of rain and thunderstorms yesterday, the field was relieved to find clear skies and slightly cooler temperatures as their race got underway at Quai des Etats-Unis. Super swimmer Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) put in one of her trademark swim performances, breaking away within the first 50 meters and exiting the water in 25:23, 58 seconds ahead of Brazilian Pâmella Oliveira who placed fourth at the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in South Africa. The chase pack of Holly Lawrence, Ellie Salthouse (AUS), Haley Chura (USA) and Lisa Norden (SWE) followed less than two seconds back, with race favourite Ryf right in contention from the start.
Onto a very tough and technical bike course leading up to the Col de Vance, Charles-Barclay and Lawrence flew out of transition with Ryf behind them quickly picking off the leading swimmers to work her way up the field as they headed out towards the climb. With another strong biker, Amelia Watkinson (NZ) having led the race into the climb, the experience of Ryf showed as she attacked on the descent and took control of the race. A drafting penalty served by Charles-Barclay early on took her out of contention for the podium, but Lawrence and Simmonds stuck within a three-minute window to the leader, never truly letting her get away. Ryf entered Transition 2 in 03:04:28, only 02:26 ahead of Lawrence, while Simmonds was following only five seconds behind. The chase pack now further off the pace, Watkinson, Charles-Barclay and local favourite Manon Genet (FRA) was pushing hard to catch up.
Setting the pace on the flat and fast two-loop run course, Ryf worked hard to try to put distance between herself and her chasers but Lawrence was ready for the battle. Having closed 26 seconds on Ryf in the first six kilometres, closing the gap to only two minutes, Lawrence seemed intent on claiming the top step of the podium. However, Ryf’s world-class form was simply unbeatable. She picked up the pace in sweltering conditions to run to victory in 04:23:04 with Lawrence coming in second place (04:27:02) and Simmonds in third in 04:28:10. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) with a fantastic run split, ran herself into fourth place in 04:31:07 while Lucy Charles-Barclay did well to turn around the day and claim fifth place in 04:31:50. Genet made the French community proud with a Top 10 performance, finishing in eighth with a time of 04:34:14.
“I don’t think it matters how many titles you have, I think it’s races like today that matter,” said Ryf at the finish line. “For me today was a fantastic day, the girls were pushing really hard, I think it was amazing. The level in the swim was just fantastic, you know it’s crazy to see how well everyone swims at the moment and I had a fantastic swim but came out with ten other girls! Then on the bike the same, I felt good but everyone was pushing hard and the girls were attacking at certain moments and in the end I was happy to make a little gap downhill. You needed a lot of skill today. Then on the run it was similar, Holly was pushing hard today, and I knew I had to show a really good run to be able to win. I really got pushed to my absolute maximum today and my absolute best, and you know that’s what World Championship races are about. I’m really happy I could come home with the win today.”
IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, Nice, France – Saturday 7th September 2019
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
1st – Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 4:23:04
2nd – Holly Lawrence (GBR) – 4:27:02
3rd – Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 4:28:10
4th – Chelsea Sodaro (USA) – 4:31:07
5th – Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) – 4:31:50
6th – Radka Kahlefeldt (CZE) – 4:33:38
7th – Amelia Watkinson (NZL) – 4:34:06
8th – Manon Genet (FRA) – 4:34:14
9th – Emma Pallant (GBR) – 4:34:26
10th – Sara Svensk (SWE) – 4:35:33
11th – India Lee (GBR) – 4:36:10
16th – Katrina Rye (GBR) – 4:45:15
39th – Frankie Sanjana (GBR) – 5:06:33