France’s Leon Chevalier rounded off a successful season in style with a clear-cut victory at IRONMAN Cozumel, which became a duathlon after the swim – one of the fastest in full-distance racing – was cancelled because of choppy conditions.
The men’s race was also notable for the fact that it was the last in the career of former IRONMAN World Champion Sebastian Kienle (GER), who just missed out on the podium as he was overtaken late on for third.
And in the women’s race, Spain’s Gurutze Frades defended her title in fine style when surging through the field on the run to take the win.
Pro Men – Chevalier too good for the rest
The decision not to go ahead with the swim drew a balanced response from Kienle but the result was a time trial start on the bike, with a few seconds between each contender.
And it didn’t take long for it to settle down into a two-way battle between Chevalier and Kienle, with INEOS Grenadiers rider Cameron Wurf (AUS) a little way back in third.
But it was in the last quarter of the bike that Chevalier really put the hammer down, meaning that by the time the riders reached ‘T2’ he was 3:14 ahead of Chris Leiferman (USA) who himself had put the turbos on to jump past Kienle and Wurf.
And on the run the gaps would go out but the order would remain, with Chevalier 6:06 to the good on Leiferman and Kienle at +8:45 at halfway.
All were at sub 4:00min/km pace at that point and crossing the line Chevalier clocked a 2:42 marathon to take the win by over nine minutes, with Leiferman in second.
Kienle looked set for a fitting podium finish and crossed the line alongside Robert Wilkowiecki but as the Pole had begun 15 seconds back in the TT bike start, third place – and a Kona slot for 2024 – went to him.
“I gave it absolutely everything – no regrets,” said Kienle afterwards.
We’d spoken to Chevalier in the build up when he’d said the primary goal was to book his Kona spot for 2024 but he did so much more than that and the icing on the cake could be breaking into the PTO top 10 from his current ranking of #11.
Pro Women – All about the run
Frades made it two wins out of two in this event after Britain’s Ruth Astle’s frustrating season took a turn for the worse when she was forced out after leading on the bike.
There are few stronger riders at IRONMAN distance than Astle and she demonstrated the point again as she was soon into the lead after the time trial start.
She put time between herself and the rest, especially from halfway, which meant that she’d opened up a gap of nearly six minutes on Angela Naeth (USA) and Svenja Thoes (GER) going into transition.
Unfortunately though issues with her Achilles meant that she exited the race 6km into the run and she said later: “Trying to do the sensible thing but couldn’t really run properly anyway,” with her emotions obvious after what until that point had been a good day.
Naeth too suddenly found herself well adrift and it meant that Thoes was then out on her own.
But Frades went from over five minutes down to less than a minute at halfway and the inevitable catch came soon after.
She didn’t look in danger thereafter and crossed the line nearly seven minutes to the good after a 2:49 marathon.
IRONMAN Cozumel Results 2023
Sunday 19 November 2023 – swim cancelled / 180km / 42.2km
- 1. Leon Chevalier (FRA) – 6:42:31
- 2. Chris Leiferman (USA) – 6:52:01
- 3. Robert Wilkowiecki (POL) – 6:54:27
- 4. Sebastian Kienle (GER) – 6:54:41
- 5. Henrik Goesch (FIN) – 6:56:07
- 1. Gurutze Frades (ESP) – 7:36:10
- 2. Svenja Thoes (GER) – 7:43:03
- 3. Marlene Helen de Boer (NED) – 7:57:02
- 4. Angela Naeth (USA) – 7:59:57
- 5. Diede Diederiks (NED) – 8:03:14