In the women’s race, reigning champ and Swiss star Daniela Ryf went into the race as the favourite and was dominant throughout, leading on the bike leg and run to cross the line in 4:11:34 (and 30th overall) to maintain her grip on the 70.3 world title.
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Under blue skies and in increasingly oppressive heat, the World Championship race kicked-off at 10:45am in the crystal blue Zell-Am-See lake, flanked by mountainous peaks, thousands of local and international spectators and Ironman Hawaii royalty Paula Newby-Fraser and Heather Fuhr on the starting pontoon, and 48-year-old Natascha Badmann on the race course.
The men’s field had the biggest strength in depth, with 2008 Olympic champion and the current Ironman Europe title holder, Germany’s 194cm Jan Frodeno, towering over his race rivals on the lakeside starting ramp. Alongside him were two fellow former ITU stars, the reigning 70.3 world champ Javier Gomez and Britain’s great hope for the men’s title, Tim Don. After five wins from six middle-distance races in 2015, Don was looking to go better than his 70.3 worlds bronze in 2014, but his prep was disrupted by a nasty bike crash in Boulder last week which left him with 30 stitches in his face and a thumb split in two.
Don, nonetheless, exited the 1.9km lake swim on the coattails of Gomez and Frodeno, with the reigning Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle a couple of minutes in arrears. Onto the bike, however, and the Germany’s two-wheel tri dominance was asserted, with the top six spots halfway through the 90km bike leg all occupied by the nation (Andi Bocherer leading Frodeno, Andreas Drietz, Nils Frommhold, Michael Raelert and Kienle).
After America’s Lauren Brandon broke the 70.3 Worlds swim record in 22:53mins, the women’s race saw Ryf lead throughout the bike leg, entering T2 with a wide deficit over the field. Brit hopes were pinned on Jodie Swallow, who suffered a training ride crash on Saturday while recee’ing the bike course. It was left to Holly Lawrence, Susie Cheetham, Parys Edwards and EK Lidbury to carry the Brit flag.