The Lineup: Camilla Pedersen, Michelle Vesterby, Radka Vodickova, Andreas Raelert, Kevin Collington, Manuel Kueng, Boris Stein
The course: The “Sparkassen Finanzgruppe 70.3 European Championship” (say that 3 times fast) is set in Wiesbaden, Southwest Germany. Wiesbaden – one of Europe’s oldest towns – is renowned for its wine and champagne producers and over 25 hot springs, so if the hills on this very tough bike course become just too much, one could always pull off for some wine tasting and a nice soak. What goes up must come down, so be prepared for some steep technical descents as well. The swim is a simple out-and-back in Lake Raunheimer Waldsee, while the run takes athletes through 4 loops of downtown Wiesbaden.
Ironman Wiesbaden 70.3 is a P-1500 race with a $75,000 prize purse.
The pro fields got off swimmingly with a tightly packed first quarter mile – in good time, a group of 5 men broke away at the front, with Maurice Clavel setting the pace. After the turn-around, Swiss athletes were in the lead on both sides – with Manuel Kueng the first man out of the water in 24:20, and Celine Schaerer posting the fastest women’s time of the day in 26:29.
Kueng may have come out of the water first, but a still tight men’s field meant that transition times were key – Andreas Raelert and Pete Robertson were the first men out of T1, while Celine Schaerer continued to lead the women. Maurice Clavel re-took the lead early into the bike, opening up a small gap on Raelert, Robertson, Kueng, and Pieter Heemeryck, but Kueng didn’t let him get too far away – setting a tough pace in strong winds, he moved up into 2nd just a few meters back, with the group including Raelert now a minute behind. Clavel met with some mechanical misfortune, dropping his chain and losing 20 seconds, allowing Kueng to take over and leaving him riding in 2nd with Raelert. In an uncharacteristic move this early in a race, Raelert soon opened up a 25 second gap on the field.
After coming out of the water several minutes behind, Boris Stein had to move on the bike if he wanted to secure his Kona slot – and he did, overtaking Kueng and then Raelert, flying all the way into a 4+ minute lead and posting the fastest bike split by a wide margin in 2:15:51. Raelert came into T2 4:56 back, with a chase group led by Andi Dreitz entering T2 6:22 back.
Meanwhile, Anja Beranek had ridden to the front in the women’s race, with Camilla Pedersen not far behind. Beranek and Pedersen rode at the front for the entirety of the hilly course, ultimately jumping off the bike nearly side-by-side, with Natascha Schmitt following 5 minutes behind in 3rd.
Raelert wasted no time making up ground on Stein, narrowing the gap between 1st and 2nd to 4 minutes within the first 5k. Quite the battle for 3rd was raging, with Antony Costes fighting Ruedi Wild. Although Raelert, Costes, and Wild continued to make up time on Stein, it wasn’t enough – Stein took the biggest win of his career, besting his competitors by 2 minutes with a final time of 4:03:08. Wild beat out Costes for 3rd, while American Kevin Collington rounded out the podium in 5th.
5th today at 70.3 European Champs in Wiesbaden. A solid result leading into World Champs in threeâ€¦ https://t.co/wimFnIMV7m
— Kevin Collington (@KevinCollington) August 9, 2015
After coming off the bike together, Pedersen and Beranek continued their battle within a meter of each other. Just past 10k, Pedersen opened up a small gap, and Beranek couldn’t hang on – Pedersen continued to put time on her all the way to the finish line, winning in 4:36:04. A small shake-up 5 minutes back saw Alexandra Tondeur running up past Schmitt to steal away 3rd place. Michelle Vesterby’s efforts were enough for 5th (and some much-needed points).
REALLY happy ? #1 at 70.3 IRONMAN European Championships in Wiesbaden ? Thanks for all the support and cheering,… http://t.co/YVrXJ1KUb3
— Camilla Pedersen (@allimactri) August 9, 2015