Bozzone, Crowley Brilliant in Bahrain
by Volker Boch/ironman media
The second edition of the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain turned out as a tough and great battle for the title. Strong winds made some of the best pro athletes from all over the world work hard in a great Championship final of the season. Especially Terenzo Bozzone crowned the last IRONMAN race weekend of 2016 with a brilliant performance in men’s race.
Only six days after his amazing course record win at the IRONMAN Western Australia, Bozzone proved his strength again in Bahrain. Thanks to an outstanding bike ride he hammered to the front and remained untouchable. Eric Watson from Bahrain led the pro field out of the water in 24:58 ahead of co-favorite Michael Raelert (GER) and Australia’s Sam Appleton. Bozzone was in the middle of the front group in 6th place and only 10 seconds off the lead in T1. Once he had started his bike, the 31-year old former IRONMAN 70.3 world champion stormed away into a hard headwind.
From that moment on, Bozzone raced his own competition. He put the pedal to the middle and opened up a gap of almost two minutes on Raelert, who struggled later due to stomach issues. When the New Zealander reached T2 at the Bahrain International Circuit, he was more than 4 minutes ahead of Appleton and Steffen Justus (GER). His split of 1:56:10 matched to the fact that the flat and fast course ended in Formula 1 style at the famous motor Circuit. Although the IRONMAN Western Australia champ felt some tiredness coming up in his legs, he kept going on the run course. Justus was flying behind him, trying to downsize Bozzone’s advantage step by step. The 2012 Olympian worked hard to catch up with the leader, but through 9 kilometers he was still 2:54 behind. Finally, Bozzone’s performance was just too strong to get caught by anyone in Bahrain, Justus finished 54 seconds behind the glorious winner. Appleton ranked third ahead of Frenchman Romain Guillaume and David Plese from Slovenia.
In women’s race, Swiss Caroline Steffen had an advantage of more than a minute when she entered T1. Maria Czesnik (POL) and the rest of the pro women were a bit behind on the first part of the bike leg, too. It was on Diana Riesler from Germany then to attack effectively on the first half of the windy bike course. The reigning IRONMAN Malaysia champ took over the lead before the field hit the half-way mark of the stunning course, but Steffen worked hard behind her to keep the gap small and consistently under a minute. Tine Deckers from Belgium moved into second place on the final bike kilometers which decreased Riesler’s chances for the victory as well.
When the German leader came off the bike with the fastest split, Deckers was only 36 seconds behind Riesler, closely followed by Steffen. The top five women arrived in T2 within a minute of each other, before Australia’s Sarah Crowley showed her extraordinary running talent. Brit Emma Pallant moved into the lead first on the run course, but thanks to the best half marathon, Crowley eventually celebrated the title at the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain.
Top 5 Men
1. Terenzo Bozzone NZL 00:25:07 01:56:48 01:15:16 03:41:32
2. Steffen Justus GER 00:25:05 02:01:52 01:11:25 03:42:26
3. Sam Appleton AUS 00:25:03 02:01:10 01:13:29 03:44:10
4. Romain Guillaume FRA 00:25:06 02:01:48 01:16:38 03:48:29
5. David Plese SLO 00:28:28 02:01:22 01:14:01 03:49:16
Top 5 Women
1. Sarah Crowley AUS 00:30:28 02:14:56 01:20:40 04:10:59
2. Emma Pallant GBR 00:30:24 02:14:49 01:22:21 04:12:25
3. Caroline Steffen SUI 00:28:54 02:15:58 01:24:50 04:15:08
4. Tine Deckers BEL 00:30:59 02:13:45 01:25:38 04:15:43
5. Diana Riesler GER 00:30:40 02:12:54 01:28:04 04:17:20
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