Dutch Niek Heldoorn to delightful Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau victory

Niek Heldoorn wins Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau (archive picture Insta Heldoorn)

After Niek Heldoorn already qualified for the Ironman World Championship at Kona earlier this year by finishing second at Ironman New Zealand, he has just achieved another highlight in his career: among a world field, he has won Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau and thus also grabbed a slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, which takes place at the end of this year in Taupo. For the umpteenth time, this shows Heldoorn’s talent and potential.

During the swim, Heldoorn, somewhat surprisingly, was still lagging behind. When the Dutchman climbed out of the water in ninth place, he had a minute to make up on Justus Nieschlag, Joshua Lewis, Jannik Schaufler, Valentin Wernz and Nils Lorenz, among others. Heldoorn didn’t make up his deficit right away on the bike though, because especially in the first few kilometers he really rode his own race and did not let himself be tempted to close the gap directly.

Just the opposite happened. Heldoorn did maintain his position, but saw his gap increase to almost three minutes during the first half of the bike leg and with that – at least for supporters – it seemed almost impossible that Heldoorn would still rush to a victory. Yet he still did not let himself get crazy and then came the tipping point: during the second half of the bike leg Heldoorn started to catch up with men and make up time. Back in T2 he was already third and only Nathan Guerbeur (+1:35) and Joshua Lewis (+0:29) were ahead of him.

During the run, that didn’t last long, as Heldoorn flew out of T2 and caught up with the men in front of him within three kilometers. They couldn’t hang on for long, because even though Heldoorn’s lead didn’t get much bigger right away, he kept picking up a few seconds of time per kilometer. Meanwhile, it was Nieschlag who held on best behind Heldoorn and advanced to second place. Still, the gap between the two men kept hovering around a minute and so Heldoorn was heading for a stunning victory.

Heldoorn won the race in a time of 3:50:13. Nieschlag was second in 3:51:11 and Jonas Hoffmann was third in 3:52:45.