Jackie Hering ensures American win again at European Championships Ironman Hamburg, European Title for Maja Stage Nielsen

Jackie Hering wins Ironman Hamburg (Archive picture: PTO)

At a European Championship, you might expect – or hope – for a European winner, but just like last year, the European Championship Ironman was dominated by an American athlete: Jackie Hering just took a stunning victory and outclassed her European competitors. Maja Stage Nielsen came in second and thus won the European title in Hamburg.

Quite early in the race, one of the biggest favorites, perhaps even the biggest favorite, dropped out: Kat Matthews got disqualified for overtaking in a no pass zone and that opened up additional opportunities for the other women. Fenella Langridge was already well in the race by then, and halfway through the bike leg her lead over Daniela Bleymehl and Julie Iemmolo was just under four minutes, while Dutchwoman Els Visser had begun an impressive advance behind her. She was in fourth, but was rapidly closing in. Not much later, Visser also passed Iemmolo and Bleymehl, taking over second position.

With 150 kilometer ticked off and 30 kilometer left, Visser’s gap had decreased to 2:27 minutes. So far a great race, but then disaster struck thanks to a flat tire. That material breakdown cost Visser just under 10 minutes, and once she returned to T2, she had dropped to seventh place and a deficit of over 11 minutes overall.

The top five women, Langridge, Bleymehl, Iemmolo, Maja Stage Nielsen and also Hering, started the run within two minutes of each other. For the first ten kilometers, Langridge continued to lead the race, but Hering advanced to the front pretty quick, and Bleymehl and Nielsen also approached more and more. In the end, Hering and Nielsen proved to be the strongest and while their lead over the rest continued to grow, they ran for kilometers within thirty seconds at most of each other.

Only in the closing stages did Hering manage to slightly increase her lead, eventually winning in a time of 8:19:14. The American thus logically did not become European Champion; that right was reserved for the second woman, Stage Nielsen, who finished in a time of 8:21:54. The women who finished third and fourth overall – Bleymehl (8:28:09) and Langridge (8:29:36) – completed the European Championship podium.