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Alpe d'Huez Long Course results and report 2011 [Updated]
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Wednesday 27th July 2011


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UPDATE - CLICK HERE FOR FULL LONG COURSE RESULTS

Tri247's 2011 Alpe d'Huez Triathlon Coverage:


Chapeau! That seems an appropriately French expression - for a 100% French race - to use for anyone, however fast, who managed to conquer both the course and the elements today at the EDF Alpe d'Huez Long Course Triathlon.

While we're in French mode, vive la différence, for this uniquely brilliant but oh so tough event.

An early start? No, 9:30am will do just fine.
Saturday or Sunday? No, we race on Wednesday.
Standard, Half or Full? No, we'll have 2.2km / 115km / 22km because....we can.

That said, for the first time, more than 50% of the entries were from outside of France.

Combine the infamous 21 hairpin turns of Alpe d'Huez as your final 13.8km to bring you to T2 (at 1850m altitude) with a one lap course of stunning beauty, and you - almost - overlook the fact that before you get there you have the scale (and importantly, descend) the Alpe du Grand Serre and the Col d'Ornon too. This certainly isn't an 'a bit longer than a half ironman' race. But it is, rightly, becoming one of the classic events of world triathlon. Oh, and we do it all again tomorrow in 'short' version!

(Special request! We're you one of the many GB supporters on Alpe d'Huez for the Long Course race? If so, perhaps it was you who top GB finisher Sam Gardner passed his gilet and glasses to on the climb?! If so, any chance we could re-unite them! Sam has promised a 'reward' if you can... drop me a line via editor@tri247.com and I'll put you in touch.)

The pro field - ladies especially - was on paper loaded with quality. You won't find many races boasting the likes of Cat Morrison, Jodie Swallow, Rebekah Keat, Mary Beth Ellis, Amy Marsh and Brit/Irish up-and-comers Tamsin Lewis, Lou Collins, Eimear Mullan and many more.

Tamsin Lewis and Jodie Swallow before that start

For the men, defending champion was South African James Cunnama, plus we had former ITU World Champ Olivier Marceau, Reto Hug, Hervé Faure, Olympic bronze medal winner Jan Rehula and plenty more.

The weather. It was, horrible. Combine this course, with driving rain, cold and at times hailstones and you create perhaps the ultimate triathlon challenge against the course, the conditions, the opposition and in many cases, your own mind. It was really tough - and I had the benefit of a moto taking me round the course. There is absolutely no chance of getting lucky on a day like today.

Scotland's Catriona Morrison didn't need luck, she demolished the field finishing, provisionally, 15th overall and over twenty one minutes clear of second place. Spain's Victor Del Corral took the men's title; unexpected, if only because I understood he was doing the shorter distance race tomorrow and hence hadn't notice the (high) #983...

Brit's were at the front out of the swim in the shape of Daniel Halksworth and Jodie Swallow. However, swim position in isolation was of little value today as, quite rightly, there were some extra-long transition times as athletes stopped to dress appropriately for what lay ahead. And those that didn't, suffered.

Australian Aaron Farlow took the early lead along with Jan Rehula, and there were gaps of minutes in the early miles, though this all sorted itself out up the long climb of the Alpe du Grand Serre. Farlow had only a short lead at the summit, and following was a group including Cunnama, Marceau and others.

It was a similar story in the ladies race. Cat Morrison started the climb quite close to Mary Beth Ellis and Rebekah Keat, but soon dropped them both like a stone and gained huge time up the climb, such that by the top she had virtually caught Jodie Swallow. Despite later saying to me "my granny would have descended faster than me today", that, in a competitive sense was pretty much game over. Morrison really is the real deal in long distance racing and Kona deserves to see her racing in a fit and healthy state. Hopefully 2011 will be third time lucky. With the return of Wellington too, it could be an epic October for the British ladies.

As Morrison pulled away, Swiss pairing of Renata Bucher and Céline Shaerer managed to make the 2nd-4th positions closely fought, while behind that it was almost a GB & IRL vs. teamTBB with Lewis, Mullan and Collins seeming to get the better, generally, of Ellis, Marsh and Keat.

Fast-forwarding to Alpe d'Huez itself, the mist was so thick and low that you could barely see who was arriving at T2. As last year, James Cunnama pushed the pace on the Alpe and extended a lead of what seemed like a couple of minutes. With a fine running pedigree that would usually be enough, but James has been carrying a running injury (he dropped out in Roth), and also had to serve a five minute penalty in T2; details unknown. Aussie and teamTBB team mate Farlow was next in, but as it turned out it would be Del Corral who would be tearing up the run - and he looked great doing it. Short course specialist Reto Hug came through strongly for second while Cunnama slipped back to sixth. The penalty didn't help, but today was not his day.

Victor Del Corral wins Alpe d'Huez Long Course

Morrison lead Swallow at T2 by 8:10, and the Cat can certainly run, so there was little danger there. Swallow, who has also had a foot injury this year was moving but didn't look especially smooth. Still, it was another seven plus minutes before Tamsin Lewis hit the run course just seven weeks after breaking her collar bone. Could this be a fine way to return? Mullan and Collins were also in the mix with the Swiss pairing and Mary Beth Ellis.

Cat extended the lead through the run and looked brilliant the whole way, while a tearful Swallow was forced to DNF with injury. The battle was then for second, and at the start of the third of three laps Tamsin Lewis was neck-and-neck with Ironman Austria winner Mary Beth Ellis. Ellis looked stronger, and certainly has the better pedigree, but Lewis was digging deep and by the line was less than a minute back in third. In pieces physically and on a real high emotionally it was big result for Tamsin. It must have been, as I was the one who got the tearful hug! Shaerer of Switzerland took fourth, while Collins couldn't quite catch Mullan who finished fifth.

Cat Morrison wins Alpe d'Huez Long Course

And if I had a pound for every time I heard most of the above mentioned say "that was the toughest thing I've ever done..."

Of course, most of them will be back for more but, let's hope it stays dry next time.

Provisional Results

Pos Men Women
1st Victor Del Corral (ESP) 5:50:13 Catriona Morrison (GBR) 6:25:00
2nd Reto Hug (SUI) 5:56:16 Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 6:46:31
3rd Aaron Farlow (AUS) 5:59:04 Tamsin Lewis (GBR) 6:47:25
4th Marcus Ornellas (BRA) 6:01:05 Céline Shaerer (SUI) 6:55:03
5th Hervé Faure (FRA) 6:02:13 Eimear Mullan (IRL) 6:57:49
6th James Cunnama (RSA) 6:03:02 Lou Collins (GBR) 6:58:53
7th Matteo Annovazzi (ITA) 6:06:55 Coralie Lemaire (FRA) 7:09:55
8th Timothy Van Houtem (BEL) 6:07:56 Stéphanie Reymond (FRA) 7:12:10
9th Olivier Marceau (SUI) 6:08:59 Amy Marsh (USA) 7:16:17
10th Erik Simon Strijk (NED) 6:10:28 Diane Lee (GBR) 7:33:07
11th Jan Rehula (CZE) 6:13:34  
12th Brandon Marsh (USA) 6:14:56  
13th Cédric Lassonde (FRA) 6:18:56  
14th Sam Gardner (GBR) 6:22:40  
15th Giles Reboul (FRA) 6:27:44  

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