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Ironman Euro Champs Women's Pro Preview
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Wednesday 2nd July 2014


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On a weekend that will see the finals of Wimbledon, the start of the Tour de France and the British Grand Prix, one of the highlight of the European long distance triathlon season will also be take place - the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt, Germany.

With significant prize money and big Kona points on offer, not surprisingly a very strong Pro field will be lining up at the Langener Waldsee, and in the ladies race at least, chances of a British winner. That said, the competition is very tough and the quality deep. In this piece we preview the Pro women's race.


The British impact...

In Jodie Swallow and Corinne Abraham, there are two serious contenders for podium positions - and perhaps the top step - from a British perspective.

After an injury impacted Ironman debut DNF back in 2011 at St. George, Jodie Swallow's Ironman education 'proper' started in 2013 with second at Ironman South Africa, second in Frankfurt and a win at Ironman Kalmar - the later two both 'Sub-9'. Significant improvements from race-to-race too, closing out Kalmar with a 3:06:41 marathon.

For in a row for Jodie Swallow at Ironman 70.3 South Africa  all images ©Ironman South Africa media

Swallow has started 2014 very strongly, consistently - and for the purposes of Frankfurt, is in my eyes on an upward curve too. A fourth consecutive 70.3 South Africa win was followed by a close, but frustrating third at Ironman South Africa, a race she led until the 35th kilometre of the run. A second place at the incredibly tough and exceptionally competitive Ironman 70.3 St George, followed most recently by perhaps the most impressive of all - a win at Ironman 70.3 Boulder after a head-to-head battle on the run with Rachel Joyce, suggest that a fit and healthy Swallow is approaching the sort of form she showed in 2010.

She will no doubt spend several hours in the lead on Sunday - and coud quite realistically do so from gun to tape. A class act across all three disciplines, a 'complete' performance from Swallow at Ironman should yield something quite spectacular given her abilities. Will that come this weekend?

Corinne Abraham comes into the race with a different background. We've extensively covered Corinne's progress in the pro ranks with interviews in 2011, 201 , 2013 and of coure this piece following her immense breakthrough at Ironman Melbourne 2013.

©www.RobHoldenPhotography.com

Like Swallow, Corinne is no stranger to Frankfurt either, having finished third in 2012, which she reported on for us HERE. Having battled to the 'top' with her Melbourne efforts, Corinne's progress was halted with serious injury, a fractured sacrum, putting her out of action and into rehab mode for a year. Where 2013 Kona qualification was done and dusted, she started 2014 with no points in the bag, and is currently 93rd on the KPR. On the positive, she returned to Ironman racing with a confidence boosting third at Ironman Lanzarote (including the fastest run split), saying after that

“I felt quite pleased with my swim. I am showing some improvements, so that is really good. I had to work very hard to stay positive through the bike leg. It was so challenging to not be as strong as I have been previously and to stay positive whilst everyone else was pulling away from me on the bike course. The support I got along the course gave me much-needed encouragement. It helped me to keep pushing. In the marathon, I just tried to keep a steady pace, run my own race. I was pleased to run without pain or secondary issues related to the injury, and to pick up a few places. Overall, I am really happy it went well and that I was able to perform for the team. It’s a way to thank everyone who helped me get back into race shape. Today gave me a good idea of where I am. Onwards and upwards!”

Abraham (like most / all!), will of course lose significant time to Swallow in the water, and will need to show a return towards her previous bike form once on dry land to keep her in the mix come the run. If she can do that, she could make some serious moves in the second half of the marathon. A strong athlete, the second half of the run tends to be a particular strength of hers.

The comeback queen...

That last years winner Camilla Pedersen (DEN) is racing at all is remarkable. That she will arrive with significant and realistic hopes of retining her title is staggering. She has won already this year in Fuerteventura, Barcelona, Italy and Aarhus - all in dominant fashion, and all after spending several weeks in a coma last year.

The 2013 race left both Pedersen and Swallow in pieces at the finish line, so hard did they push each other. Can Pedersen continue her progress over the full distance? She will surely need all of the determination and focus she has shown already in her recovery and return to fitness, as Swallow and others appear ready to make it a tough challenge.

Camilla Pedersen

The contenders...

Wherever she races, Mary Beth Ellis has to be considered strongly. She also has a remarkable record in Ironman racing. Until Melbourne this year (where she was second), MBE had won every 'non-Kona' Ironman she had ever started, eight victories so far. One of the few athletes with the potential to swim with Swallow, the former teamTBB athletes look set for a head-to-head for much of Sunday once again - and with both athletes coached by Siri Lindley, they will be well aware of each others strengths.

Another name to look out for, especially on the bike, is Stefanie Adam. An Age Group winner in Kona for the past two seasons, she also had the fastest bike split overall (incl Pro's), in both of those events. While that isn't comparing 'apples with apples', a decent swimmer too, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a 'surprise' name towards the front of the race once on dry land.

The fastet Ironman in the race is actually none of the above - it is Austria's Eva Wutti. Her sensational 8:37:36 at Ironman Copenhagen last year is still the seventh fastest iron-distance time ever recorded (only Chrissie Wellington and Caroline Steffen have gone faster). She aslo backed up that performance with another Sub-9 effort at Challenge Barcelona in October. Two fast times and two wins - based on previous years, it will take another fast effort in Frankfurt to be in with even a chance of victory given the quality of opposition headed to Germany this weekend.

There are several other contenders to watch including the German pairing of Sonja Tajsich (fourth, Kona 2012) and Kristin Möller (third last year), Gina Crawford (NZL), who has been racing so well in Europe of late plus American's Elizabeth Lyles (fifth last year, and a Sub-9 finisher in Australia) and Amy Marsh.

FULL START LIST

KPR Points / Prize Purse

$125,000 total and P-4000 points status - IRONMAN European Championships

Pos
Women
1st
$25,000
2nd
$12,500
3rd
$7,500
4th
$5,500
5th
$4,500
6th
$3,000
7th
$2,500
8th
$2,000
Total
$62,500

PREVIOUS RECENT RESULTS

2013 - Results

Pos Women
1st Camilla Pedersen (GER) 8:56:01
2nd Jodie Swallow (GER) 8:58:43
3rd Kristin Möller (GER) 9:01:55
4th Sofie Goos (BEL) 9:07:43
5th Liz Lyles (USA) 9:09:44

2012 - Report

Pos Women
1st Caroline Steffen (SUI) 8:52:33
2nd Anja Beranek (GER) 9:05:41
3rd Corinne Abraham (GER) 9:21:03
4th Susan Dietrich (GER) 9:22:07
5th Sofie Goos (BEL) 9:28:03

2011 - Report

Pos Women
1st Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:12:13
2nd Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 9:13:46
3rd Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:14:14
4th Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 9:15:37
5th Samantha Warriner (NZL) 9:18:04

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