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Fast Finnish: Laura Philipp dominates IRONMAN European Championship 2021

IRONMAN Finland 2021 saw the return of Germany's Laura Philipp - and with a dominant European Championship win, she could be better than ever

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Before today, Germany’s Laura Philipp was ranked #34 in the on the PTO World Rankings. Anyone who knows anything about this sport knows Laura’s talent is significantly greater than that; a ranking simply the result of just once race start since 2019. She will not be #34 for much longer.

A fourth place finish (on debut) at the 2019 IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii was a true insight into her potential, but injuries always leave a little doubt in the absence of race starts.

At IRONMAN FInland today – also the IRONMAN European Championship for Pro Women – Philipp returned in fine (and fast) style, and that’s a great prospect for the the top tier of women’s middle and long distance racing. The best of Laura Philipp is still to come.

Swim, bike and say goodbye on the run!

If you wanted jeopardy, even as a triathlon fan, there wasn’t too much of that in the first six hours.

A trio of athletes out of the water together – Jocelyn McCauley (USA), Imogen Simmonds (SUI) and Philipp – with France’s Manon Genet, 45 seconds back. Not known for her swim speed, that couldn’t have been a better start for the bronze medallist from the 2020 PTO Championship.

Great Britain’s Tara Grosvenor – the only athlete on the start list with Kona qualification already secured- had a solid start, fifth out of the water, just under five minute back on the leading trio.

The bike changed nothing for the leaders. Laura Philipp lead most of the ride, encouraging McCauley and Simmonds to help at the front along the way. All three rode 4:48 bike splits to reach the dismount line within seconds, more than nine and a half minutes clear now on Genet.

That dismount line would prove a little tough for Simmonds, who seemingly failed to dismount in time, and moments later would have to serve a one minute penalty in transition, to see Laura Philipp disappear into the distance. She would never see the German again until the finish line.

Looking glorious on the run from the start, Philipp clocked 18:47 for the first 5km and continued to build her advantage. By halfway she was nine minutes clear of Simmonds, with McCauley – just a week after a very average race at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder last week – still only two minutes behind the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship bronze medallist.

While the battle for second and third was still on, the winner was never in doubt – and that’s typically the case, if you can run a 2:52:45 marathon, on a rolling course with lots of trails, in the rain. Seriously impressive. A third IRONMAN start and a second win, just a few minutes slower than the notoriously fast IRONMAN Barcelona.

By 30km, McCauley was starting to regain time on Simmonds and five kilometres later she had fought back into silver medal position. Sub nine and a Kona slot secured, five months after the birth of her second child. No wonder she screamed with excitement at the finish.

Simmonds held strong just three minutes back and in just her third full distance start, matched the IRONMAN European Championship third place she earned at IRONMAN Frankfurt two years ago.

McCauley ran 3:13:01, Simmonds 3:16:01 – solid results. But that 2:52 from Laura was a different league, and honestly, she had more in the tank.

Starting the run outside of the top ten, Tara Grosvenor put behind the disappointment of not being able to start IRONMAN UK with illness, to run her way back into a nice pay cheque with a fine 3:09:35 marathon, for eighth place. That should put a smile on her face after the frustrations of Bolton, with plenty of upside on the bike seemingly there for the taking over the next couple of years. Nice work.

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IRONMAN Finland Results 2021

IRONMAN European Championship (PRO WOMEN)
Saturday 14th August 2021

  1. $25,000 – Laura Philipp (GER) – 8:38:29 (Kona qualified)
  2. $15,000 – Jocelyn McCauley (USA) – 8:59:26 (Kona qualified)
  3. $9,000 – Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 9:02:52 (Kona qualified)
  4. $7,500 – Tina Pohjalainen (FIN) – 9:15:42
  5. $5,500 – Heini Hartikainen (FIN) – 9:17:23
  6. $4,000 – Svenja Thoes (GER) – 9:17:44
  7. $3,000 – Katharina Grohmann (GER) – 9:24:45
  8. $2,500 – Tara Grosvenor (GBR) – 9:29:37
  9. $2,000 – Verena Walter (GER) – 9:35:08
  10. $1,500 – Alena Sinay (SVK) – 9:36:55
KUOPIO, FINLAND - AUGUST 14: Imogen Simmonds of the Switzerland reacts after winning the third place of the IRONMAN Finland on August 14, 2021 in Kuopio, Finland. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for IRONMAN
John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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