Belgium’s Bart Aernouts appears to be rounding into the form that in years past has seen him finish second in Kona, win Challenge Roth and take numerous other Ironman titles. Today he overcame a three-minute deficit off the bike to run his way to an impressive win at Ironman 70.3 Florida.
The day started off with Russian swim coach Alexander Khalamanov leading the way out of the water, with Canadian Jackson Laundry 22 seconds back. Brazil’s Igor Amorelli was next out at 46 seconds back. Germany’s Andreas Dreitz stayed close at 58 seconds behind hitting T2, but Aernouts seemed to be in a tough spot as he started the ride – he was almost three-minutes behind the Russian leader.
Once on the bike Dreitz found some company in another strong cyclist, Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev. The two powered away from the rest of the field – by the time they hit T2 their lead was over three-minutes to Aernouts and Great Britain’s Joe Skipper, with Laundry leading a group that included Filpe Azevedo (POR) and South African Xterra world champ Bradley Weiss between 4:28 and 4:46 down. Pre-race favorite Matt Hanson was a whopping six-minutes down starting the run.
Dreitz quickly pulled clear of Ditlev, but Aernouts was putting together an impressive run and steadily gained on the German. By 10 miles the lead had shrunk to just six seconds, and the Belgian quickly moved to the front and cruised through the rest of the run for an impressive win – his 1:13:02 run split got him to the line for a speedy 3:47:42 finish. Hanson (3:48:20) would also manage to run his way past Dreitz (3:49:04) to take second thanks to a blazing 1:10:38 split.
Laundry would finish the day in 3:51:20 for fourth, with Weiss rounding out the top five in 3:52:36.
You can find the men’s pro results here.