Frenchman Cyril Viennot brought the french revolution back into Vietnam to win the IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam. Meanwhile, defending champion Caroline Steffen continued her winning ways in 2016 to sweep the women’s title with a clear victory.
Bike blitz paves the way for Viennot
Viennot trailed Sam Betten (21:58), Luke McKenzie, and New Zealand’s Matt Franklin out of the 1.9km swim at the famed China Beach by two minutes. Byy the end of the two-lap 90km bike along the Danang shoreline, however, only McKenzie, with his famed bike skills, was able to respond as the pair opened a 2:30 advantage, with pre-race favourites Tim van Berkel and Tim Reed more than four minutes in arrears.
Viennot blazed an outstanding 2:03.27 for the 90km journey, two minutes faster than McKenzie and six minutes quicker than van Berkel. The Frenchman still managed an excellent 1:21.51 effort in the extraordinarily hot conditions for the 21.1km run to win in 3:54.09, his first victory of the year after finishing second in Geelong and eighth at IRONMAN New Zealand. He finished a minute clear of van Berkel, who clipped on his running legs to set the fastest run split of 1:19.04, the only runner under the 1:20 barrier, to run past McKenzie who settled for third more than four minutes back.
Viennot said he was pleased with his improved performance in the heat and humidity:
“I was fourth last year and struggled in the heat. I ran much better in the heat and so to come back this year and win is very satisfying. I worked very hard on the bike to catch Luke (McKenzie) which set up the win,” says Viennot.
Steffen runs to repeat victory
Caroline Steffen saved her best until last, running away with the women’s race. She followed Radka Vodickova and Liz Blatchford out of the swim by 13 seconds, as the trio teamed up for the entire bike, clearing out from the rest of the field.
The three had a lead of four minutes off the bike, but from that point Steffen played her hand, pushing to the lead early on the out-and-back run course and going on to win in 4:12:18 on the back of an excellent 1:24.52 run split.
It was Steffen’s second win in three starts over the distance this year, following her victory at Subic Bay and a second place in California. Steffen is pushing to match her outstanding 2015 season, where she enjoyed five wins at the distance and two runner-up spots.
“I am over the moon to win IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam for the second time. I knew coming into this race I was in good shape and I really wanted to defend my title. It is a race that is very close to my heart as it supports the charity Vietnam Newborns,” Steffen said.
Steffen added that the heat and humidity were again intense, but also that she seems to thrive in these conditions—she has won five times in the last 15 months in the blazing heat of Asia. The Swiss athlete will now have a short break before the building to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in her adopted home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Vodickova, fresh from her win at Putrajaya, was again second to Steffen (as she was at Subic Bay), more than three minutes back in 4:15.46 with Blatchford third a further four minutes back.
Top 5 Pro Men
|2||Tim van Berkel||AUS||0:22:10||2:09:29||1:19:04||3:55:08|
Top 5 Pro Women