Nikki Bartlett and Christophe de Keyser claim gold at Ironman 70.3 Marbella

(Archive photo: James Mitchell)

Belgian’s Christophe de Keyser gave everything he had to maintain his lead on America’s Chris Leiferman, and although Leiferman closed the gap quite a lot, in the end, he couldn’t get in the way of De Keysers and the win of Ironman 70.3 Marbella. In the women’s race, Britain’s Nikki Bartlett had much less competition to deal with. She ran to a big win, leading the run with more than four minutes.

Men’s race

Sweden’s Alexander Berggren and De Keyser got to climb out of the water in first place. With a gap of 43 seconds to a group of seven men, that followed, the two reached their bikes. Once in the saddle, De Keyser attacked. With a high speed, he found his way forward over the hilly course. After 72 km, he was in first place. He enjoyed a buffer of 2:55 minutes to his first followers: Weiss, Leiferman and Chile’s Martin Ulloa, who were riding in a little group.

In the final kilometers of the bike part, this little group shrunk the gap to De Keyser a little. Leiferman showed to have some matches left to burn, as he came closest to the leader before T2. He racked his bike in second place, 1:41 minute behind De Keyser. Weiss started the run in third place (+2:01) and Ulloa in fourth (+2:27).

Leiferman started the half-marathon strong, trying to catch De Keyser. After 13 km, the gap had already shrunk to 1:12 minute. In the end, the run part turned out to be just too short for Leiferman to pass De Keyser. That saw De Keyser take off with the win. Leiferman settles half a minute later in second place, and Weiss completed the podium (+1:42).

Women’s race

Bartlett started her race dealing with a 2:49-minute deficit to the leading lady: Germany’s Katharina Kruger. She definitely wasn’t the only one who couldn’t keep up with Kruger’s swimming, because Kruger was off on her own after the first discipline. Bartlett started the bike part in eight position.

Within the blink of an eye, Bartlett moved up, though. After 35 km, she was riding in second place, behind De Nicola, and in the next kilometers she rode to first place. With a bike split of 2:34:39 hour, Bartlett racked her bike in first place. De Nicola entered T2 2:05 minutes later. Denmark’s Line Thams was third to start the run part (+3:12) and Thoes fourth (+4:22).

On the run, Bartlett continued her strong race. Halfway through the half-marathon, she was leading by 4:33 minutes. Thoes had run to second place, and De Nicola was in a third position. That remained unchanged until the finish, only the gaps had widened. After 4:32:41 hours, Bartlett broke the tape. Thoes claimed silver (+4:23) and De Nicola took home bronze (+7:43).