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Eneko Llanos wins Melbourne classic
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Sunday 24th March 2013


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Before the men's race at the 2013 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship today, we said on Friday "we'll go for Belgium's Marino Vanhoenacker for the win. Craig Alexander, along with Jordan Rapp (USA) and Eneko Llanos would be our picks to fill the podium alongside the six-time Ironman Austria winner." Well, we did get the top four - just not (quite!) in the right order.

As we said of Amanda Stevens in the ladies race, whatever the length of the weather-impacted and shortened swim, everyone confidently predicted the swim lead of Australian's Clayton Fettell, and he was joined by training partner Joseph Lampe in reaching dry land first. The big names of Craig Alexander and Eneko Llanos were a minute back, with the bike power of Belgium's Marino Vanhoenacker a further minute behind that duo amongst a host of pretenders to these icons. Those gaps soon vanished, and very early in the ride Alexander and Llanos bridged up to Fettell, Lampe and Bell, and it wasn't long before the imposing figure of the white-suited Marino Vanhoenacker joined the party, the first 45km into a storming headwind. How significant was the wind? Marino's first 45km out: 1:16:10, Marino's second 45km back: 55:33...

The Vanhoenacker ace in the pack is his bike speed, but he was keeping his powder dry and his tactics perfect in the first 90km. Keeping out of the wind, never setting the pace... because as soon as the second half of the bike started and turn was made for lap two, boom! Gap made instantly, and the Vanhoenacker attack was on. Alexander, Fettell, Llanos and Tim Reed were the chasers, trying to keep that gap as small as possible. Marino reached T2 with a five minute lead and a 4:22:32 bike split. A fine runner himself, with perhaps the even faster running Alexander and Llanos behind, the race was set up nicely. All three started the run looking great... this was going to be good.

Llanos and Alexander started gaining on Vanhoenacker from the start - but only marginally. The tall Belgian was running smooth, looking great and all of the maths was suggesting that his chasers would run out of time to catch him. It's difficult to gain much time on a guy running sub 2:45 marathon pace himself.

Llanos and Alexander spent the first half of the run together, the Spaniard only able to break the three-time Ironman world champion after the halfway mark. All were running well though, no meltdowns - this was a battle of attrition to the finish. In the final 10k, Vanhoenacker's pace did drop slightly, and that was the opportunity for Llanos to close the gap and finally reel in his prey.

Llanos was to prove champion on this day, closing out his race with a 2:43:35 marathon to cross the line just shy of three minutes clear of the 2:51:28 of Marino. Just 38 seconds later, defending champion Alexander - in the week of becoming a father for the third time - completing the podium with a 2:46:44 run. Great racing from three of the finest Ironman athletes in history.

Tom Lowe finished 11th (8:02:15) with Craigg Twigg 37th Pro (96th overall) in 8:52:01.

Sunday 24th March 2013
Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, Melbourne
1.9k** / 180k / 42.2k
(** swim shortened due to rough sea conditions).

Pos Men
1st Eneko Llanos (ESP) 7:36:08
2nd Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 7:38:59
3rd Craig Alexander (AUS) 7:39:37
4th Jordan Rapp (USA) 7:50:54
5th Chris Legh (AUS) 7:52:29
6th Per Bittner (GER) 7:58:28
7th Jimmy Johnsen (DEN) 7:59:37
8th Jeremy Jurkiewicz (FRA) 8:00:50
9th Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 8:01:09
10th Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:02:15

Eneko Llanos


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