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IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz 2023 results: Drama-packed victory for Frades

Home favourite Gurutze Frades took the win but there were some incredible stories behind the women who joined her on the podium.

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Spanish athlete Gurutze Frades delighted home fans with victory at IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country.

She won by seven minutes from Svenja Thoes (GER) but that barely told half the story as there was another remarkable demonstration of defying adversity by Els Visser (NED) who had led into T2 but then looked set to exit on the run before battling back for third.

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How it played out

It was an eventful day all round which saw a number of records broken, the first in the swim as Helene Alberdi (ESP) in her maiden IRONMAN clocked 52:41 to open up a lead of nearly four minutes on the rest.

But on the bike it was all about Visser who moved into the lead early on, with Michelle Vesterby (DEN) and Frades her closest challengers.

Els Visser IRONMAN Vitoria Gasteiz 2023 photo credit: IRONMAN
Els Visser put down the power on the bike [Photo credit: IRONMAN]

Despite what proved to be gearing issues, Visser set a new bike course record and at T2 there were some big gaps – Vesterby was +3:17 behind and it was over 10 minutes back to Thoes and Frades.

However Visser suffered badly in the first half of the run – her advantage was still three minutes at 15km but 3km later she was six minutes adrift of new leader Frades and walking.

But Vesterby coming past seemed to galvanise her as she’d explain later and she managed to come back for what was an incredible third place, with her celebrations in the closing stages reflecting that.

Vesterby was fourth and with that quartet all having booked their IRONMAN World Championship spots it meant an opportunity for those in fifth and sixth and those places were filled by Alberdi and Fiona Moriarty (IRL).

What they said

There were compelling reasons for all three women on the podium to take plenty of satisfaction from the race.

Frades said: “It was a perfect day for me, starting from the swim and then through the bike.

“I had to wait seven years between my first two IRONMAN wins [Vichy in 2015 and Cozumel last November] so it’s great to get a third relatively soon after.”

Thoes had a scare in the cold water at IRONMAN Frankfurt recently and she explained: “I’m super, super proud after Frankfurt. It was quite lonely on the bike but I can’t believe I came in second.”

And Visser’s remarkable back story – she survived a shipwreck by swimming for hours back in 2014 before she was a triathlete – only added to the drama that unfolded.

Speaking to Paul Kaye after crossing the finish line she explained: “Halfway on the second lap of the run I stopped my watch.

“My legs were like rocks as I’d had to push the big gears on the climbs as I couldn’t shift into the small chainring. I felt horrible and just thought I couldn’t finish.

“But Michelle is a friend of mine so I just ran with her and I wouldn’t have finished without her.

“And this crowd was insane, I’ve never seen one like it and there was just no way I wasn’t going to finish – that was the other reason I kept going. What an amazing race, I’m over the moon.”

IRONMAN Vitoria Gasteiz podium Frades Visser Thoes photo credit: IRONMAN
[Photo credit: IRONMAN]

IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz 2023 Results

PRO Women
(No PRO Men’s race in Vitoria)

Sunday July 16, 2023 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

  • 1. Gurutze Frades (ESP) – 8:46:18
  • 2. Svenja Thoes (GER) – 8:53:18
  • 3. Els Visser (NED) – 9:09:00
  • 4. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) – 9:17:47
  • 5. Helene Alberdi (ESP) – 9:21:31
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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