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IRONMAN Frankfurt 2021: Patrik Nilsson wins European Championship

IRONMAN Frankfurt 2021 saw great racing for IRONMAN European Championship honours, with Patrik Nilsson running to a Sub-8 victory

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IRONMAN Frankfurt, one of the most iconic events on the annual calendar hosted the Male Pro IRONMAN European Championship on Sunday, 24 hours after the Women’s Pro event at IRONMAN Finland (won by Laura Philipp).

If Laura Philipp was a dominant winner in Finland, there were plenty of lead changes In Germany. When the exciting action finally ended, Patrik Nilsson (SWE) was the new IRONMAN European champion. An excellent day for David McNamee too, who earned a podium slot and another return to the IRONMAN World Championship.


Kristian Hogenhaug sets the (bike) pace

As might expect at an IRONMAN European Championship event, the depth of talent (even in the absence of Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle, who between them have won the last six races in Frankfurt), was unlikely to see too much decided in the swim.

Patrik Nilsson (SWE) of the BMC Pro Triathlon Team crossed the timing mat first (49:35), but there were 14 athletes heading into T1 from the Langener Waldsee within 30 seconds. The British entries, David McNamee and Thomas Davis, were among them as was iron-distance debutant Casper Stornes (NOR), Maurice Clavel (GER), Brent McMahon (CAN), Pieter Heemeryck (BEL), Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN) and Franz Loeschke (GER) among the pre-race favourites

The first quarter of the race saw Belgium’s Heemeryck, who as yet has not made the full-distance impact that his quality over the middle distance has suggested in recent years, had broken clear and was 90 seconds ahead at the front. The chase group was now reduced to eight athletes.

By the midpoint of the bike, Heemeryck continued to extend his lead to almost four minutes, with the same chasing pack (Clavel, Hogenhaug, Nilsson, Loeschke, McMahon, Stornes, McNamee and Paul Schuster (GER)).

It was ‘all change’ at the front in the third quarter of the bike however, as Denmark’s Hogenhaug (who is already Kona-qualified), taking over the lead with Heemeryck perhaps paying for his early efforts.

The Dane, who won IRONMAN Hamburg in 2019, clearly had a plan to push that second half of the ride and by T2 had extended that advantage out to a whopping eight minutes over the chasing eight. Thomas Davis was 21st off the bike after a 4:44:10 split, almost 28 minutes behind the man from Denmark [UPDATE – Tom’s race impacted by another flat, which also impacted his race earlier in the season at the TradeINN International Triathlon.]

While eight minutes back on the leader, David McNamee was in a great position with his best discipline to come. Twice a podium finisher at the IRONMAN World Championship already, a return to Hawaii was definitely on his ‘to do’ list today. The Scot tends to produce his best performances at the biggest events, and he was now right in the mix for podium honours at the IRONMAN European Championship. Just (!) 26-miles to finish the job.

What about Casper Stornes? With training partners Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden already set for Hawaii, could the draft-legal specialist join them, just weeks after racing at the Olympic Games?

Bike for show, run for dough

After the first lap of four, Hogenhaug’s lead was down to five and half minutes, from Nilsson and Stornes, with McNamee and Heemeryck just 20 seconds behind that duo. Clearly, lots of racing left in this one.

After looking brilliant on lap one, Stornes was showing a few distress signals on lap two. Hogenhaug’s lead was now down to 3:40 over Nilsson, with McNamee still strong (and still 20 seconds back of the Swede), in third, pulling clear of Heemeryck and Stornes.

McNamee was tactically perfect to this point in the race, and on lap three he moved up to the shoulder of Nilsson, the pair still making progress on closing down the eight minute advantage that Hogenhaug started the marathon. With 10km remaining, the gap was just 90 seconds.

Closing further to just 60 seconds, that was a queue for Nilsson to make his bid for glory, and he pulled clear of McNamee and set off in pursuit of his BMC Pro Triathlon team mate. With 3km remaining he made the catch – and didn’t wait around, continuing on to a 2:39:40 marathon time and a sixth career IRONMAN victory, breaking eight hours in the process.

While he did get caught, Hogenhaug certainly didn’t blow up – he still clocked a 2:48:47 marathon himself – and he actually gained time on on McNamee over the closing couple of miles. A one-two for the BMC Pro Triathlon Team.

David McNamee returned to form with a 2:42:59 run split, completing the European Championship podium, earning a $9,000 prize cheque and, perhaps most importantly, earning that Kona start in October. “The last 10km was the hardest of my life.” Recovery starts now.

IRONMAN Frankfurt Results 2021

IRONMAN European Championship (PRO MEN)
Saturday 15th August 2021

  1. $25,000 – Patrik Nilsson (SWE) – 7:59:21 (Kona qualification slot)
  2. $15,000 – Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN) – 8:00:18
  3. $9,000 – David McNamee (GBR) – 8:02:29 (Kona qualification slot)
  4. $7,500 – Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) – 8:07:11 (Kona qualification slot)
  5. $5,500 – Franz Loeschke (GER) – 8:07:32
  6. $4,000 – Maurice Clavel (GER) – 8:09:41
  7. $3,000 – Paul Schuster (GER) – 8:11:23
  8. $2,500 – Milosz Sowinski (POL) – 8:17:52
  9. $2,000 – Ivan Tutukin (KAZ) – 8:20:04
  10. $1,500 – Dylan Magnien (FRA) – 8:23:45

19. Thomas Davis (GBR) – 8:38:42

IRONMAN Frankfurt 2021 / Patrik Nilsson, Kristian Hogenhaug, David McNamee
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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