Leo Bergere and Laura Madsen triumph at Ironman 70.3 Valencia

Leo Bergere triumphs at Ironman 70.3 Valencia (Archive Picture World Triathlon)

Leo Bergere and Laura Madsen have just recorded impressive victories at Ironman 70.3 Valencia. The first edition of the race thus had nice and especially strong winners.

In the men’s race it was a so-called ‘one-man show’ in which Bergere attracted all the attention. During the swim he was in a leading group of ten men, but in the first few kilometers of the bike leg he got away from everyone and after that he never saw anyone again until the finish. Behind Bergere there was a great battle for the silver and bronze, but the Frenchman didn’t saw anything of that.

When Bergere returned to T2 to start his half marathon, the battle for gold was already decided and he was almost five minutes ahead of a chasing group of five men: Joshua Lewis, Jan Stratmann, Jannik Schaufler, Sven Thalmann and Johannes Vogel. Those 21 kilometers of running therefore became unexciting as to who was going to win the race: that was Bergere in a time of 3:40:24. Behind him there was a constant change in positions, but in the end it was the German Stratmann who finished second in 3:43:25. This required a final sprint, as his compatriot Schaufler finished third in 3:43:26.

More excitement in the women’s race
There was more excitement in the women’s race. After the swim, there was a leading group of four women, led by Caroline Pohle. She was immediately followed by Lena Meissner, Sara Perez Sala and Luisa Logna Prat, while top favorite Laura Philipp came out of the water in sixteenth place, 2:40 minutes behind. None of these women would dominate the bike though, as Denmark’s Laura Madsen proved to be the best rider of the day.

Madsen had just before come out of the water in sixth place, trailing by 47 seconds. On the bike, Madsen rode quickly to the front, as she often does, and gave the other women no chance to catch up either. Slowly but surely her lead grew bigger and bigger, finally hanging her bike back in T2 with a margin of 1:24 minute on Pohle and 1:54 minute on Meissner. The next women behind followed at five minutes or more.

During the first kilometers of the half marathon, it looked like Madsen would crack and both Pohle and Meissner came closer. Meissner in turn passed Pohle and after ten kilometers of running – halfway through, that is – she was only sixteen seconds behind the Danish leader. Pohle sticked together with Meissner for the time being and followed just a second later, so the top three women were running within twenty seconds of each other at this point of the race.

In the kilometers that followed, however, it was up to Madsen who managed to regain herself and extend her lead considerably again. As a result, she proved strong enough to run to victory after all. In a time of 4:09:58, the Danish athlete eventually triumphed, keeping her 1:47 minute ahead of Meissner. Pohle finished third at 2:12 minutes behind.