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Böcherer, Thürig secure 70.3 European Champs, Wiesbaden
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Sunday 14th August 2011


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Wiesbaden, Germany once again hosted the Sparkassen Finanzgruppe Ironman 70.3 European Championship - the tough course providing an appropriate test for that title. Germany's Andreas Böcherer and Switzerland's Karin Thürig proved to be the toughest 70.3 athletes and worthy winners today.

As with Ironman Frankfurt last month, the star athlete and pre-race favourite (as he is in every 70.3 he enters), double World Champion Michael Raelert was a pre-event withdrawal - also confirming earlier this week that he would definitely not be seeking Kona qualification this year. That still left a quality field, with 2010 silver medal winner Sebastian Kienle assuming the role expected winner - though it wasn't to pan out that way for the strong cycling German.

Men

Spanish athlete Francesc Godoy made a break on the swim, gaining 45 seconds on a group of 13 athletes separated by just 30 seconds. This included the talented Czech athletes Filip Ospaly and Martin Krnavek, Andi Böcherer (GER), Terrenzo Bozzone (NZL), Mathias Hecht (SUI) and more potential podium finishers. Swimming is not the Kienle strength, but even so, he would have been disappointed to have conceded close to three minutes to the majority of those athletes so early in the day.

Böcherer has shown great form in 2011 - a great race and second place at Ironman South Afrcia, and a win at Ironman 70.3 Switzerland - both off the back of strong swim/bike performances, and early on in the ride he hit the front in Wiesbaden. Matthias Hecht joined him, another man in good form having finished third to Böcherer in Switzerland 70.3, third at Ironman Switzerland and won Ironman St. George earlier in the season. We expected Sebastian Kienle to charge on the bike, but looks like he may have pushed it a little too much with IronmanLive reporting that he crashed three times before dropping out of the race. Many of the roads were wet from overnight rain, making conditions tricky on two wheels.

Böcherer was able to break clear in the second half of the ride, pushing very hard and building up a significant lead. His 2:25:05 bike splits reflects the tough course, but was still over 3:49 faster than Hecht. Starting the run Andreas had a 4:21 buffer over Hecht and Ospaly, with Krnavek a further two minutes in arrears. Böcherer has run well this season, but could he hold off the fast footed Ospaly?

The answer...yes! Ospaly set down a swift 1:13:51, but Böcherer produced a very solid 1:16:33 to take a clear win. Fellow Czech Martin Krnavek rounded out the podium.

Women

Exiting T1, there were far greater gaps between the athletes in the ladies race. Anja Ippach (GER) had 30 seconds on Simone Benz (SUI) who lead for so long at Ironman 70.3 UK, who in turn was more than a minute clear of Stefanie Kuhnert (GER). Close behind were the more familiar names of Joanna Lawn (NZL), Amy Marsh (USA) and Sofie Goos (BEL) - Lawn was in Germany seeking KPR points to make the final cut for Kona. Further back, defending champion Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) was almost four minutes in arrears of the lone leader, while arguably the best female cyclist in the sport Karin Thürig (SUI) would have to make up two minutes just to reach Van Vlerken, before beginning her assault on the head of the race.

Thürig was to dominate on the bike - recording a bike split of 2:42:08 that was almost 11 minutes quicker than defending champion Van Vlerken, though 'only' 7:24 ahead of the relatively unheralded swim leader Anja Ippach. Eva Wutti (AUT) had bike well too, her 2:47:16 was the second fastest of the day, and with a faster swim that Thürig, left her in the mix.

Would that weak swim come back to haunt Thürig though? Despite the fireworks on the bike, her lead over Ippach at T2 was only one minute with Wutti an additional minute and a half behind, so it was all to play for over the half marathon run.

Ippach was to fade on the run...but at 44 years of age, six-time Kona winner Natascha Badmann wasn't! While Thürig wasn't to me challenged, the ever-smiling 'Swiss Miss' was proving she still has the talent and running through to a possible podium position. With less than 3knm to go she was just 50 seconds behind Eva Wutti, who finished fourth at Ironman 70.3 Austria ealier this year. Yvonne Van Vlerken was running strongly too, leaving it as a battle for silver and bronze with the Swiss cycling legend Thürig safely on the way to the European title in this her last year in the sport before retirement.

Wutti was to hold on for second and perhaps the best race to date in her career, while Badmann was able to make it two Swiss athletes on the female podium.

Pos Men Women
1st Andreas Böcherer (GER) 4:08:36 Karin Thürig (SUI) 4:45:47
2nd Filip Ospaly (CZE) 4:10:19 Eva Wutti (AUT) 4:50:54
3rd Martin Krnavek (CZE) 4:15:02 Natascha Badmann (SUI) 4:51:39
4th Mathias Hecht (SUI) 4:17:01 Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:52:27
5th Dmity Rosryagaev (RUS) 4:22:06 Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:52:28
6th Mike Aigroz (SUI) 4:23:53 Sophie De Groote (BEL) 4:53:13
7th Brandon Marsh (USA) 4:24:28 Anna Ippach (GER) 4:54:50
8th Thomas Hellriegel (GER) 4:24:51 Jenny Schulz (GER) 4:55:08
9th Patrick Jaberg (SUI) 4:27:01 Sofie Goos (BEL) 4:56:23
10th Pavel Simko (SVK) 4:28:33 Natascha (Schmitt) GER 5:02:56

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