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Schildknecht dominates Ironman South Africa
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Sunday 14th April 2013


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Having won at Ironman Florida with a sub-eight hour time in 2011 to add to his six consecutive Ironman Switzerland wins, an eighth Ironman win for Ronnie Schildknecht saw him add Africa to North America and Europe as winning continents to his CV - the talented Swiss athlete victorious again today at the Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa in Port Elizabeth. In that regard at least, out prediction from Tuesday proved correct.

In typical style, the Schildknecht day began with a deficit after the swim leg. A solid swim of 52:48 left Ronnie in excellent company alongside Herve Faure (FRA) and home town hero James Cunnama (RSA), but around three minutes back on other favourites including Faris Al-Sultan (GER), Mike Aigroz (SUI), Jan Van Berkel (SUI) and our pick for a podium, Bas Diederen (NED).

From the close lead swim group, it was 2005 Ironman World Champion Faris Al-Sultan who broke clear early on the three-lap bike course to set the pace. Having won an Ironman every year for the past three seasons, Al-Sultan had sights on extending that run here. Switzerland's Schildknecht had other ideas, and was making swift progress after the swim, pulling away from James Cunnama and looking in great shape on the bike. While Schildknecht reached the front and powered away, Al-Sultan would eventually pull out of the race at around the 120km mark. Meanwhile, the flying Swiss recorded an impressive 4:22:01 bike split, by far the fastest of the day, with only Georg Swoboda (AUT) also able to break the 4:30 mark with a 4:28:55.

Schildknecht would reach T2 alone - and with an eleven minute lead, looked a certain winner. When you add to that a 2:53:06 marathon to close out the day - though his rivals did manage to close the gap slightly - the win was never in doubt. Second last year, France's Cyril Viennot repeated that position once again with Bas Diederen (NED) matching our pre-race prediction for him of third place, a few seconds behind the Frenchman.

For British born Seychelles representative Nick Baldwin, 11th Pro Male (12th overall, 8:48:01) made a solid start to his Pro career with, I think, a big PB time. It wasn't a good day for local favourite and Challenge Roth winner James Cunnama who withdrew after two laps of the three-lap run - he will, surely, one day win his 'home' race?

Another bad day too for Craig Twigg; details to follow if we can, but according to an Ironman Live comment, we believe he had three punctures, and may actually have ended up pushing/running his bike into T2. Looking at his bike splits, that looks quite possible - and would I suspect mean a very upset and frustrated 'Twiggstar' in the Port Elizabeth area right now, having looked ready to build on his seventh place last year, and put the disappointment of Melbourne behind him. He did however continue despite that, and finished in 9:55:19. That, if nothing else will tick the 'Kona validation' requirement, but with points a far bigger issue for Craig, he may now have to revisit - or at least, adjust his season - if a Kona 2013 start remains his season goal.

In the Age Group ranks, Edward Brett took second in M18-24, Rich Hunt third in M40-44 and Martin Gannon second on M55-59.

Ironman South Africa, Port Elizabeth - Sunday14th April 2013
2.4 miles, 112 miles, 26.2 miles

Pos Pro Men

1st

Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:11:27
2nd Cyril Viennot (FRA) 8:19:51
3rd Bas Diederen (NED) 8:20:09
4th Horst Reichel (GER) 8:22:34
5th Francois Chabaud (FRA) 8:29:30
6th Herve Faure (FRA) 8:34:20
7th Dominik Berger (AUT) 8:43:53
8th Kent Horner (RSA) 8:44:32
9th Karol Dzalaj (SVK) 8:45:42
10th Michael Davidson (RSA) 8:47:40

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