The Women’s Race
Lisa Hütthaler, usually renowned for her cycling talents, celebrated her first victory at an Ironman 70.3 thanks to a thrilling run. Hütthaler, who has a two-year-old son, came out of the water two-minutes behind, but dominated the race once it reached dry land.
“I’ve always focused on my strength on the bike,” she said after the race. “But today I was really strong in the run.”
Rahel Küng from Switzerland led the women’s field into T1 after a strong performance in the water. Küng needed only 24:13 minutes to complete the 1.9 kilometer swim and was followed by Canadian Olympian Lauren Groves (24:22) and one of the pre-race favorites: Germany’s Anja Beranek, the reigning IRONMAN 70.3 European Champion (24:59).
Beranek took the lead early on the bike, but after only 15 km Hütthaler had made up a minute. Beranek was still in front into the long uphill section towards Kloster Lluc, while facing pressure from Great Britain’s Tamsin Lewis and Lucy Gossage. They attacked for the lead, and after 35 km, both were together at the front. By this time, Hüthaler was in third, accompanied by Yvonne van Vlerken from the Netherlands. The “flying Dutch girl” was also recovering from a slow swim, but hammered down the hill from Kloster Lluc and created a gap.
“I had to work hard to catch up with her again,” Hütthaler said.
The hard work paid off: The Austrian reached T2 seven seconds ahead of van Vlerken and 4:05 ahead of Lewis and Gossage. Van Vlerken started into the run with a tough first split and re-took the lead, but she was caught again by Hütthaler, who ran the half marathon in 1:20.46 to take the win in a new course record of 4:24:25. Van Vlerken claimed second position in 4:27:17 ahead of Gossage (4:30:03).
The Men’s Race:
Eneko Llanos took this year’s Thomas Cook IRONMAN Mallorca thanks to an outstanding run (1:08:42).
“I’m very happy with my race today,” Llanos said after the race. “I felt a bit tired during the swim and also on the bike, but I became fresher and fresher in the run.”
The reigning Asia-Pacific IRONMAN Championship Melbourne champion ran down Bart Aernouts and Andreas Raelert over the final kilometers. Llanos’ 3:52:36 finish time broke Raelert’s course record by more than a minute. Bart Aernouts claimed second place, finishing only 18 seconds behind Llanos, while Raelert rounded out the podium in 3:54:43 hours.
Llanos might have found the swim and bike so challenging because of the fast pace set right from the start of today’s race. Frenchman Stephane Poulat set the pace for the swim in the Bay of Alcudia and exited the water in 22:03. A group of 14 athletes, including Raelert and Llanos, followed Poulat within 14 seconds.
In T1, the “French connection” stayed at the front. Bertrand Billard, runner-up in Mallorca in 2011 behind Raelert, took the lead and went out on the bike course in first. Raelert, coming out of the water 10th, also had a quick transition and started the bike in fourth place.
While Billard set the early pace on the bike, by 15 km American Andrew Starykowicz caught up with him and the two gained more and more time on the pursuers. Starykowicz made his move at 50 km. By 78 km, the fastest IRONMAN rider in history (his 4:04 bike split in Florida is the fastest ever recorded at an official IRONMAN race) was 2:19 up on Billard. Once he reached T2, Starykowicz was 4:10 ahead. A group that included Raelert and Llanos were only 25 seconds behind Billard. Just 40 seconds separated a group of eight who were battling for third.
Raelert flew over the opening stages of the run. He started the run 4:55 behind Starykowicz, but after 10 km he was only 40 seconds behind the strong cyclist. Alongside him was Aernouts, with Llanos only 20 seconds behind those two. When those four leaders started that last of the three laps, Llanos attacked.
“Eneko is in great shape,” said Andreas Raelert. “Today I was not able to hold his speed.”
Ironman 70.3 Mallorca
Top 5 Women
1. Lisa Hütthaler (AUT) 4:24:25
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:27:17
3. Lucy Gossage (GBR) 4:30:03
4. Tamsin Lewis (GBR) 4:30:57
5. Natascha Schmitt (GER) 4:33:16