Where do we begin with this weekend’s race wrap ups? After a late night following both Challenge Roth and Ironman Frankfurt, while also attempting to catch parts of the 70.3 races and Rev3, with the occasional glance at the television with a surf between Roger Federer and le Tour (sorry F1, you didn’t get a guernsey) – a bucket of coffee is the perfect place to start. Accompanying that gigantean caffeine fix in this report is Xena’s European Ironman Championship crowning – for the second year in a row. 

 

In a two lap swim, Dr Amanda Stevens had already put 1:51 into her competitors by the 2.1km mark. With possibly the most uttered sentence in a race that Stevens lines up for, “there were no surprises that she was the first out of the water.” However, in this instance, according to sources at Ironman, Stevens broke the record of the fastest female swim in an Ironman race with her 45:04 swim (we are still trying to chase this record up ourselves). Chasing the doc out of the water by 3:35mins was Germany’s Anja Beranek, race favourite, Caroline Steffen (Xena) and then Heather Wurtele almost six minutes behind.

In our race preview we stated that we were looking forward to seeing how some of the sport’s strongest riders would battle it out in Frankfurt, and off the bat, Steffen, arguably the strongest rider over this distance at present, was on ‘show’. Both Steffen and Beranek were making up time on the leader, and by the 44km marker, Steffen was clearly leading by over 2mins, with Stevens just hanging on to second place in front of Beranek.

Further back, another strong rider, and winner of this year’s Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, Nikki Butterfield of Australia was making gains on two wheels. Out of the swim she was 7:30 down on the leader, and by 24kms into the ride, she had made up almost 2:30mins. However, with her first flat of two at the 70km marker, the race was slipping away from her. She changed the flat, but broke the valve in the meantime, causing a leak over the next 35kms. With a huge slash in the tyre, Butterfield’s day was done.

Another of our race favourites, Heather Wurtele, was struggling early in the bike. It appeared that her efforts at Ironman Couer d’Alene previously had cooked the ordinarily strong cyclist. It was indeed, Yvonne Van Vlerken who was making her way through the back of the pack after coming out of the water in 10th position.

Back at the pointy end of the field, the rain was settling in and Steffen continued to charge ahead. However, it was Beranek who wasn’t letting Xena get away from her. At 93kms Beranek had reeled in Steffen, and made the pass. In the last two races that these women have met, Beranek had just out cycled Steffen over the 70.3 distance – Switzerland and St Polten. However, Steffen had outrun her by 8mins both times, so, would she let the German take off on the bike at this point?

At the half way mark, the Doc was still sitting in third place, but while she was loosing time on the leaders, the chasers were making time up on her. Simone Dietrich was making her way up to Stevens, followed by Sofie Goos, Van Vlerken, and Wurtele was slipping way off the radar. By 108kms, Dietrich and Goos sat in 3rd and 4th respectively.

In the last part of the bike leg, Steffen showed her dominance and strength in the big gears and pulled away from Beranek, averaged 37kph, and was off the bike with a 180km split of 4:52, slightly slower than her split last year. One of the greatest things about watching Steffen ride is her ability to go against the grain. She hammers the big gears, and is often averaging 65rpm. You don’t often see triathletes with such a low cadence, but, it works for her, clearly. Beranek was now chasing Steffen by 2:03 heading on to the marathon. Van Vlerken also scraped in under the 5hr mark on the bike, and wheeled her way into third place ahead of Goos, Dietrich and Mareen Hufe who had been quietly tapping away making up ground.

The day was heating up, and Steffen started out strong, with Beranek trying to keep pace minutes behind. Van Vlerken, on paper was a faster runner than Beranek, and would be gunning for the podium. There was every chance that Van Vlerken was capable of catching Beranek, however, not long into the run pulled out citing back issues. 10kms in, Steffen was convincingly pulling away from the German, and by the half way mark had nearly a 7:30 buffer on her chaser.

Back in the field, it was Corinne Abraham who was making moves. Coming off the bike in 8th position, Abraham was picking off the women in front of her. Dietrich and Goos were jostling for the third position, but Abraham was gaining on them.

With rumours circulating that Steffen was a possibility of breaking the course record, the tension was building. Looking as strong as she did at the start of the marathon, Steffen, doesn’t give much away on how she’s feeling. She charged down the finish chute in Frankfurt with an amazing crowd to greet her, and crossed the line just short of the record in a time of 8:52:33, and notching up the fastest bike and run splits of the day. Steffen was again crowned the Ironman European Champion for the second year in a row, and claimed her second notch on the sub 9hr belt. Beranek remained strong in second, and had an unbelievable race, really pushing Steffen on the bike, and finished just over 11mins behind. It was the charging Brit, Abraham who managed the second fastest marathon of the day to climb her way onto the podium in third position.

 

– photos courtesy of Randy Sadler

 

Race Results

Name Swim Bike Run Total
Caroline Steffen, SUI 0:48:58 4:52:34 3:06:52 8:52:33
Anja Beranek, GER 0:48:39 4:54:50 3:18:06 9:05:41
Corinne Abraham, GBR 0:56:06 5:12:28 3:08:14 9:21:03
Susan Dietrich, GER 0:52:47 5:07:24 3:17:40 9:22:07
Sofie Goos, BEL 0:52:04 5:06:59 3:23:38 9:28:03
Mareen Hufe, GER 0:54:23 5:09:43 3:23:06 9:31:32
Amanda Stevens, USA 0:45:04 5:18:10 3:23:41 9:33:10
Heather Wurtele, CAN 0:50:56 5:21:57 3:23:53 9:42:10
Kristin Möller, GER 0:58:52 5:30:34 3:09:12 9:43:48
Nina Pekerman, ISR 0:52:48 5:25:30 3:31:34 9:55:38
Maki Nishiuchi, JPN 0:52:29 5:39:58 3:56:33 10:35:44
Venla Koivula, FIN 0:57:13 5:26:59 4:13:02 10:42:15
Zeljka Saban, CRO 0:52:38 5:54:20 3:48:53 10:42:45
Nikki Butterfield, AUS 0:52:35 0:00:00 0:00:00 0:00:00
JACQUI GORDON, USA 0:00:00 0:00:00 0:00:00 0:00:00
Camilla Larsson, SWE 0:00:00 0:00:00 0:00:00 0:00:00
Yvonne Van Vlerken 0:54:13 4:59:50 0:00:00 0:00:00
Rebekka Eßmüller, GER 0:56:21 5:20:10 0:00:00 0:00:00
Francesca Tibaldi, ITA 0:55:20 5:31:48 0:00:00 0:00:00

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