Leon Chevalier beats strong opponents and wins Ironman South Africa

Leon Chevalier winst IM South-Africa (Picture: Insta Chevalier)

Among a very strong field of competitors, Leon Chevalier has just won Ironman South Africa. In a race plagued by bad weather, which forced the organization to shorten the swim from 3.8 kilometers to just 900 meters, the Frenchman was strong from start to finish.

Fastest swimmer over the 900 meters was Swiss Andrea Salvisberg, who was allowed to return to his bike after 9:42 minutes already. Chevalier followed in 11th, but was only 29 seconds behind. By the first checkpoint on the bike course, he had already made up that deficit and a four-man breakaway had formed: Cameron Wurf was in the lead and in addition Chevalier was joined by two South Africans, Matt Trautman and Bradley Weiss.

The leading group did not stay together for long, as Wurf was in such strong form on the bike, as he always is, that he took off on his own. With a lead of about a minute on his three pursuers, nothing changed for a while; Wurf’s lead didn’t get bigger, but it didn’t get smaller either.

Only after more than 120 kilometers did the positions begin to change a bit. Wurf remained in the lead, but Chevalier was the only pursuer to stay close; Weiss began to lose more time and Trautman was suddenly – probably due to a crash or equipment failure – almost half an hour behind. He thus dropped to a 13th place.

Once back in T2, Wurf had a forty-second lead over Chevalier. Weiss returned to the transition zone in third place, but was 4:34 minutes behind. Rasmus Svenningsson followed as fourth after 5:44. The next pursuers were looking at a deficit of at least more than 10 minutes.

During the run, Wurf quickly saw that Chevalier was getting closer and after a few kilometers there was a new leader in the race already. From then on, Chevalier only saw his lead increase, while Wurf in turn saw Weiss getting closer. A little after the twenty kilometers, Weiss even passed him and thus Wurf dropped back to third place.

Chevalier was in no danger in the second half of the run either; his lead kept hovering around four minutes and in the end he won the race in 7:11:44, with Weiss finishing second in 7:16:03. In the closing stages, Wurf lost more and more time, so he did not finish on the podium. Third was the strong running Mathias Lyngso Petersen, who finished after 7:20:55.