Just a week after leading off as Team France won gold at the Mixed Relay World Championships in Montreal, Pierre Le Corre claimed a dominant victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne while Marta Bernardi (ITA) prevailed in the women’s race as both notched their first 70.3 successes.
Former European champion Le Corre only made his 70.3 debut earlier this year when third at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai.
And he was to the fore from the outset in his second race at the distance on the western coast of France, first out of the water just a few seconds ahead of Christophe De Keyser (BEL), with the duo holding an advantage of 1:21 after the swim.
It was neck and neck between the pair throughout the bike section as they came out of T2 together, with their lead of over a minute holding steady from a group of 10 athletes.
But it was on the run when Le Corre asserted. He put over a minute into De Keyser in the first 7km and was soon in complete control.
His lead was over three minutes midway through the half marathon, with Yvan Jarrige (FRA) and Sybren Baelde (BEL) joining the fading De Keyser in the battle for second.
An impressive – and clear fastest of the day – run of 1:07:08 saw Le Corre stop the clock in 3:41:05, more than five minutes ahead of Jarrige and Baelde who rounded out the podium.
Speaking afterwards, local favourite Le Corre said: “I knew after a couple of kilometres of the run that I was going to be able to have my own pace and it felt good for me.
“I’m really happy to win in front of my club, family and friends.”
The win qualified him for the 70.3 Worlds later this year but he explained: “I don’t know whether I will be in Utah as we have a lot of WTCS events and I’m staying at the short distance and will try to qualify for the ITU Worlds in Slovakia in August.”
Pro Women – Fresh legs the key for Bernardi
Just as she had a week ago at Challenge Walchsee, it was Dutch star Lotte Wilms who dominated the swim.
She was 1:54 ahead of her closest rival but the gap started to close on the bike, down to under a minute after 42km from a group of five which included Bernardi, third at IRONMAN 70.3 Luxembourg a fortnight ago and national champion at both duathlon and middle distance triathlon in the last 12 months.
And by T2 that leading sextet were within 10 seconds of each other, with French duo Charlene Clavel and Alexia Bailly the first to out ground between themselves and the rest.
But Bernardi soon joined them and halfway through she had moved clear, 31 seconds ahead of Bailly.
That advantage was gradually extended and she stopped the clock in 4:12:24, 1:07 ahead of Bailly, with Clavel 3:25 back in third and Wilms having to settle for fourth.
She said after the race: “I tried to break away from the group on the bike but couldn’t manage it.
“So I saved my legs for the run and I managed to win my first international 70.3 race so I’m really, really happy.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne results 2022
Sunday 3 July 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
1. Pierre Le Corre (FRA) 3:41:052. Yvan Jarrige (FRA) 3:46:183. Sybren Baelde (BEL) 3:46:344. Nick Emde (GER) 3:47:455. Arnaud Guilloux (FRA) 3:48:02
1. Marta Bernardi (ITA) 4:12:242. Alexia Bailly (FRA) 4:13:323. Charlene Clavel (FRA) 4:15:504. Lotte Wilms (NED) 4:18:365. Katharina Krüger (GER) 4:22:06
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