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Frederik Van Lierde wins Ironman World Champs
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Sunday 13th October 2013


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Frederik Van Lierde became only the second Belgian athlete to win the Ironman World Championship in Kona today - coached by the first Belgian to do so, his namesake Luc Van Lierde (no relation!). After third place last year, and a 2013 season which included crushing victories in Abu Dhabi and Ironman France, Van Lierde made the step up which his progress and form showed he was capable of.

The Van Lierde victory was based on a tactically perfect race, starting with a strong swim in the (very large) lead pack. With no Andy Potts starting today, the perennial pacesetter in the swim was missing and resulted in a lead group of 25 athletes exiting the water within 30 seconds.

As expected, American Andrew Starykowicz was quickly to the front and on his own as he attempted to attack the Kona bike course record. In the second half of the ride Starykowicz was joined by McKenzie and Ironman 70.3 Champ Sebastian Kienle as the front pack was gradually whittled down and the gaps grew. Starykowicz reached T2 in first place, 59 seconds ahead of McKenzie with Kienle in third, 3:53 back. Ominously, Frederik Van Lierde had ridden a more steady cycle leg and arrived back on the Pier just 20 seconds behind Kienle.

McKenzie defied most expectations by running superbly, not fading and for much of the run looking like he could potentially keep the title in Australian hands despite the off colour performances of Pete Jacobs and Craig Alexander today. Van Lierde however closed down on McKenzie with a well paced marathon and never looked like fading once he took hold of first place.

Check out our "as it happened" report below for more on how the race panned out.

Race winner Frederik Van Lierde speaking shortly after the race commented:

"Incredible - the best race of my life, I've never felt so strong all day. I tried to be patient in the beginning (of the marathon), and make the second half the same pace... I don't understand yet what it means to win, it's amazing!"

On his second place, Luke McKenzie said:

"To lead it for so long, it's a dream come true. I backed myself, I knew I could do it - full credit to Freddy, he was so strong in the back end of the marathon. Today I saw what I was capable of; I can see that I can win this race now."

Pos Men
1st Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:12:29
2nd Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:15:19
3rd Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:19:24
4th James Cunnama (RSA) 8:21:46
5th Tim O'Donnell (USA) 8:22:25
6th Ivan Rana (ESP) 8:23:43
7th Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:24:09
8th Bart Aernouts (BEL) 8:25:38
9th Timo Bracht (GER) 8:26:32
10th Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:31:13

Ironman World Championships 2013, Pro Men - "As it happened"

Presented below - by hour - is how the race played out (in my eyes!), through the day along with comments - as I saw it at the time - as to where, when and who were the winners and losers during the race.

Time into race Comment
0:00:00

News that Andy Potts (USA) was a non-starter today due to injury.
Losers? Andy (obviously!), but perhaps Clayton Fettell (AUS), the other expected 'fish' of the men's Pro field who would be expected to follow the pace of perennial swim leader Potts. Without Potts, unlikely to go 'alone' in the swim. Impact on the race? Probably minimal.

1:00:00 With no Potts, a large group, headed by Brandon Marsh, Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettell exit the water - with more than 25 athletes in close contention, all within 30 seconds.
Winners? James Cunnama (RSA) and Timo Bracht (GER) were in that group - superb swims from both. Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Jordan Rapp (USA) were within three minutes of the lead group too. That represents 'upside' performances based on expectations in my eyes, and a huge improvement for Jordan over 2012.
Losers? Like last year, Andreas Raelert didn't make the lead group. As with 2012 though, Raelert was in the company of Kienle (and in addition, Rapp this time), so should be able to recover. Belgian bike/run specialist Bart Aernouts was off the pace in the swim (expected), but was three minutes behind Kienle / Rapp / Raelert et al - looks like a lonely first half of the ride ahead to try and get back in contention. With so many in close contention ahead, it will require a lot of mental focus from Aernouts to be in contention later in the day.
2:00:00 Andrew Starykowicz leads by 2:30 over a HUGE chase group - over 20 athletes within 30 seconds, including almost all of the expected favourites. Kienle is hovering just 30 seconds behind...
Winners? Pretty much everyone in that front group - especially Craig Alexander, who suffered a puncture but fortunately the service vehicle was close by. All to plan for Kienle too.
Losers? Andreas Raelert. A poor swim, and two hours in has lost a further three minutes to Kienle. Is the German's record of never being off the Kona podium under threat? He recovered from a similar situation to finish second last year... but to do that twice? Difficult.
3:00:00 Starykowicz continues to lead alone - but Sebastian Kienle has both made the large chase pack and headed to the front of it, pushing the pace.
Winners? Kienle in position to make his move (and the rest of the group, for as long as they can stay with him...)
Losers? Probably Starykowicz as his chances of riding away from everyone have reduced, with Kienle chasing him...
4:00:00 All change (ish!). Kienle, along with Australian Luke McKenzie caught long-time leader Andrew Starykowicz to make a leading three.
Winners? Frederik Van Lierde, Dirk Bockel, Faris Al-Sultan - two minutes back on the leading trio, but have pulled away from Bracht, Llanos and Alexander. No surprise to be behind Kienle at this stage, and all will be confident of running down Starykowicz and McKenzie if required.
Losers? Pete Jacobs - it was looking great early doors for the defending champion, but into the second half and he's losing time, with every one of the the pre-race elite ahead of him and pulling away. A repeat win for PJ looking highly unlikely currently. Things looking even worse for Andreas Raelert...
5:00:00 (Slight) surprise - the lead three become two... and it's Starykowicz and McKenzie, who gradually pull away from Sebastian Kienle. Starykowicz decides he wants to stay in front and pushes on... behind, as always late in the bike, gaps grow and groups split up...
6:00:00 The early stages of the run see Starykowicz quickly passed by McKenzie and Kienle, but can they maintain their early pace. Frederik Van Lierde arrived at T2 within 30 seconds of Kienle and was looking great in the early stages of the marathon. Bockel just over three minutes back on Van Lierde, with Al-Sultan and Tyler Butterfield a minute further in arrears. Craig Alexander and Pete Jacobs well off the pace.
Winners? Frederik Van Lierde appears to have used a well balanced ride to gain time on all of the pre-race favourites except Kienle. Bockel, Al-Sultan, Butterfield and James Cunnama can also have podium ambitions as they start the run.
Losers? Eneko Llanos will have hoped to have been closer to Van Lierde at this stage... but will be grateful he's not as far back as Alexander and Jacobs.
7:00:00 Luke Mckenzie continues to impress and, for most, surprise. In the lead and running well, in the absence from the front of the race of Alexander and Jacobs, a seventh consecutive Australian male victory was still looking possible... though the looming shadow of Belgium's Frederik Van Lierde was looking ominous, having moved past Kienle and looking set on aiming for top spot.
Winners? Van Lierde looking supreme. A little further back, Tim O'Donnell was looking good and moving into the top ten.
8:00:00 The Van Lierde charge continued and he moved past McKenzie, into the lead and it would appear, set to become the 2013 Ironman World Champion. McKenzie was continuing to have the race of his life in second place however - ready to bounce should Frederik fade in the final miles.
Finish No chance of fading from Van Lierde, who was already celebrating with almost a mile to run. After leading for much of the race, Luke McKenzie was delighted to take second, while Sebastian Kienle moved up one place from 2012 to complete the podium.

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