Cunnama & Steffen Prevail in Vietnam

Photo Credit: Robyn Stanley, Vietnam 70.3 Pre Race

Danang, Vietnam’s third-largest city, is filled with pristine resorts, beautiful beaches and cultural attractions that include three Unesco World Heritage sites. This inaugural edition of 70.3 Vietnam welcomes a strong professional field. Competitors include some of the southern hemisphere’s strongest and most dangerous long course triathletes. Danang offers a stunning and pristine tropical course that opens with a beach start, non-wetsuit, single-loop ocean swim. After completing the 1.2 mile swim and running up the beach to T1, competitors will embark on a relatively flat and fast multi loop 56-mile ride along the white, sandy beach-filled Danang coast. Athletes will cross over the Thuan Phuoc Bridge and encounter other historical landmarks on their ride. Upon dismounting their bikes, athletes will begin a flat, hot and sticky, out-and-back 13.1-mile run. Professionals will be competing for a $15,000 USD prize purse.

Men

Swim

A group of four seemed to form quickly with Clayton Fettell driving the pack early. That first group also included Sam Betten, Josh Amberger and Terenzo Bozzone who added a kiwi to the Australian swim party. Roughly 90 seconds back sat Tim Reed, James Cunnama and the rest of the men’s pro field. Betten ended up first out of the water in 22:52 but he had company as Amberger, Fettell and Bozzone were just seconds back. The second group, led by Victor Manuel Gonzales, still included Reed and Cunnama and they emerged 90 seconds back of the leaders.

Bike

Amberger, who’s bike didn’t arrive until just 10 hours before the gun went off, stormed to the front of the race, perhaps taking some frustration out on his pedals. Through 10 miles, Amberger led but Fettell, Betten, Bozzone, Reed and Cunnama were all less than 2 minutes back. At 20 miles the front group remained the same as Reed went to the front with Amberger, Bozzone, Fettell and Betten riding just seconds back. Cunnama was hanging tough roughly 2 minutes back. At the 40-mile mark Amberger, Reed, Bozzone and company continued to work well off of each other. The top 5 remained unchanged through 56 miles and the group hit T2 separated by just 9 seconds. Reed clocked the fastest split on the day with a 2:03:54.

 Run

Bozzone was first to the run course but he had swift company just behind. The group of 5 men who entered T2 together quickly broke apart as the steamy, humid conditions began to take their toll. Through 10k it was turning into a two-man race with Tim Reed in front and James Cunnama just 1-second back. Bozzone sat 2 minutes back with Amberger on his heels. Betten began to fade as he fell to sixth, 9 minutes back and Cyril Viennot jumped into the fifth spot, 5 minutes back. 10 miles into the run, Cunnama made his way to the front of the men’s race and gapped Tim Reed by close to 2 minutes. Terenzo was hanging onto third about 4 minutes back with Amberger another 90 seconds back. The heat and humidity couldn’t slow down Bahrain Endurance athlete, James Cunnama, as he hung on for the win, crossing the line in 3:51:29. The South African’s 1:17:57 run split bested his closest competition by over 5 minutes. Reed finished second with Bozzone hanging onto third. A charging Cyril Viennot came within 30 seconds of third place, but ran out of real estate.

1. James Cunnama (RSA) 24:27 2:05:34 1:17:57 3:51:29
2. Tim Reed (AUS) 24:27 2:03:54 1:23:43 3:55:44
3. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 22:59 2:05:29 1:25:23 3:57:07
4. Cyril Viennot (FRA) 25:45 2:07:10 1:21:46 3:57:39
5. Josh Amberger (AUS) 22:54 2:05:27 1:28:31 4:00:24
6. Frederik Croneborg (SWE) 25:50 2:12:08 1:22:39 4:04:14

 

Women

Swim

Liz Blatchford and Caroline Steffen hit the pace hard from the gun. They gapped the field early and ended up having close to 3 minutes on the second group by the time they hit the beach. Blatchford bested Steffen by 7 seconds and exited the water in 26:10. Belinda Granger came out with Kathryn Haesner 2:30 behind Blatchford, but the rest of the field was fairly broken up and they had plenty of work to do once they mounted their bikes.

Bike

Steffen and Blatchford continued to flex their muscles on the bike and rode away from their competitors. They rode though the first 10 miles together, but Granger was hanging tough just 2:15 back. Haesner began to lose time to Granger who rode strong and fell to fourth. At 20 miles Steffen and Blatchford continued to push the pace, while Granger dug her heels in and didn’t lose any more time to the leaders. Haesner fell to fifth as Dimity-Lee Duke slid into fourth, close to 3 minutes behind Granger. At the front of the race, nothing was new and Blatchford and Steffen worked off of each other to grow their lead. Through 56 miles Blatchford and Steffen were separated by just 2 seconds and came into T2 together. Belinda Granger was approximately 3 minutes back and rode a strong solo effort. Dimity-Lee Duke was fourth off the bike about a minute down with Haesner another 4 minutes back. Steffen had the fastest ride of the day with a 2:22:27.

Run

Blatchford and Steffen hit the run course just seconds apart with Blatchford barely out in front. A few miles in Blatchford would begin to put time into Steffen and by mile 10 her lead grew to 30 seconds on Steffen. However, Steffen wouldn’t go down without a fight. Meanwhile, Granger seemed to be losing time to Dimity-Lee Duke from the moment she left T2. Dimity-Lee Duke made the pass on Granger at some point before the 10-mile marker. At the front of the race, the two leaders continued to fight with Steffen putting in a surge. Steffen’s surge in the sauna-like conditions was enough to break Blatchford. Caroline Steffen of Bahrain Endurance outran Blatchford by a touch over 2 minutes and broke the tape first. Dimity-Lee Duke finished a strong third with Stef Puszka and Ange Castle taking the fourth and fifth spot. Granger may have left her run legs on the bike course as she faded to sixth.

1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 26:17 2:22:27 1:28:33 4:21:40
2. Liz Blatchford (AUS) 26:10 2:23:06 1:30:42 4:23:48
3. Dimity-Lee Duke (AUS) 29:18 2:23:46 1:33:43 4:31:10
4. Stef Puszka (AUS) 34:36 2:25:05 1:35:07 4:39:08
5. Ange Castle (AUS) 33:12 2:29:29 1:37:53 4:44:47
6. Belinda Granger (AUS) 28:38 2:23:37 1:50:55 4:47:32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Jason Lentzke
Jason Lentzke is a coach, athlete and owner of Toro Performance. He is a multisport industry veteran and lifelong athlete.