The last full-distance IRONMAN Mallorca took place five years ago, but after the cracking 2021 renewal in Alcudia on Saturday, let’s not leave it so long until the next one!
Two first-time IRONMAN champions, both earned in very close and high-quality racing – including a new British IRONMAN champion in the form of Ruth Astle. Great viewing.
Based in Alcudia Bay, it was no surprise at all to see Germany’s Florian Angert leading the way through the two-lap, opening 3.8km swim. Winner of IRONMAN Barcelona in 2019, he was also an impressive victor this year in Samorin of Challenge Family’s The Championship over the half-distance.
While Angert was a clear solo leader after finishing the swim in 46:03, that advantage was not a significant one. Valentin Wernz (GER) led the chasers just 36 seconds back, closely followed by Peru Alfaro (ESP), Challenge Almere-Amsterdam champion Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN) and Adam Bowden. Elliot Smales (+2:35) was next through in sixth, leading a huge pack which included Cameron Wurf (AUS) and full-distance debutant, Jackson Laundry (CAN) with many others right in contention.
Fast-forward 90km into the bike – which included a long climb at the start of the ride – and Team INEOS rider Wurf had made his way to the front of the race. He was not alone however, as he had Leon Chevalier (FRA) and World Triathlon LD Champ, Kristian Hogenhaug right with him.
Angert was solo in fourth place at this stage, two-and-a-half minutes behind, with a small chase group of William Mennesson (FRA), Dylan Magnien (FRA) and Boris Stein (GER) five minutes behind the leaders. Adam Bowden was 10 minutes back in a huge group alongside Smales and Laundry.
The leading trio continued to extend their advantage over the second half of the bike. They arrived at T2 in close order, with Angert now almost four minutes in arrears. Boris Stein was six minutes back (5th) with Mennesson and Sebastian Neef (GER) approaching 11 minutes back in 6th/7th. Anyone else was going to really be struggling if they still had podium ambitions.
Supported by Susie and Rob Cheetham, Bath-based Frenchman Chevalier got onto the run course a few seconds ahead of Wurf and Hogenhaug – and stayed there for the next 42.2km. He built a lead of approaching five minutes over Wurf by the 25km point, but the race was far from over.
Angert was matching his pace almost to the second, and then into the final 10km the German started to gain ground and Chevalier was starting to enter ‘hang on’ mode. Entering the final mile he had to stop briefly and grab a drink – and with Angert now seconds rather than minutes behind, would it be critical?
Having also won the Embrunman full distance in France in August, shortly after this third place at IRONMAN UK, the welcome sight of the finish line arrived just in time.
“I was on empty, I couldn’t even see anything in those final stages” said Leon post-race, adding “I’m so glad it’s over.”
Angert took second – very happy with his Kona slot – while Wurf held strong for third.
PRO Women – Astle reigns in a nailbiter
In the third full-distance start of her season, Fenella Langridge led the way in the swim alongside Olympic silver medallist, Lisa Norden. Of the pre-race favourites, 2016 champion Jocelyn McCauley (USA) was 2:33 back (4th), with Sara Svensk (SWE), Justine Mathieux (FRA) and Ruth Astle five-and-a-half-minutes behind. In time terms, that was perhaps a career-best swim from Ruth, a great start to her day.
A multiple Swedish national cycling champion, Norden is one of the best riders in the sport and she used that skill to reach T2 alone. While she would start the run with a four-minute lead, Astle had actually closed the gap, setting the fastest bike split of the day (4:51:44). That brought her into T2 alongside McCauley. Could the American win again, five years after the last IRONMAN Mallorca?
The gaps behind were not huge either at T2 – Svensk (+ 8:01), Langridge (+8:48), Mathieux (+9:44) – and a marathon gives plenty of opportunities for changes.
Norden and Astle ran practically second-for-second over the first 10km, but it was all change over the second quarter of the run, as a four-minute gap was reduced to just a minute. Norden was starting to fade, while Astle was in metronome mode. The only problem? Mathieux in third and Liepold in fourth were both running faster!
It took 26km for the Brit to catch Norden – only to have the French athlete little more than a minute back and closing fast. There was plenty of racing left in this one! Mathieux would pass Norden and continue to close in on the lead, but Astle never faltered. Her advantage got to as little as 30 seconds, but she hung on for a famous victory.
Ruth – who had done little run training ahead of the race due to a calf injury – maintained her rhythm to the finish line and earned the biggest result of her career. Fantastic racing – and it wasn’t over!
While Mathieux took second, third was only decided on the red carpet, in an all-out sprint finish between Liepold and Norden, with the German veteran just getting to the line first to complete the podium.
IRONMAN Mallorca 2021 Results
Saturday October 16, 2021
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
1. Leon Chevalier (FRA) – 7:57:032. Florian Angert (GER) – 7:57:593. Cameron Wurf (AUS) – 8:04:034. Boris Stein (GER) – 8:09:405. Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN) – 8:06:016. Dylan Magnien (FRA) – 8:10:177. Bart Aernouts (FRA) – 8:12:038. Samuel Huerzeler (SUI) – 9. Mikel Ugarte Ramos (ESP) – 8:13:3910. Michael Weiss (AUT) – 8:16:1812. Elliot Smales (GBR) – 8:19:35DNF. Adam Bowden (GBR)
1. Ruth Astle (GBR) – 8:59:152. Justine Mathieux (FRA) – 9:00:393. Kristin Liepold (GER) – 9:02:534. Lisa Norden (SWE) – 9:02:575. Anne-Lena Best-Pohl (GER) – 9:15:246. Elena Illeditsch (GER) – 9:16:187. Fenella Langridge (GBR) – 9:16:278. Verena Watler (GER) – 9:24:58
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