Henri Schoeman (ZAF), Els Visser (NLD) Claim IRONMAN 70.3 LAPU-LAPU Titles

Henri Schoeman and Els Visser have claimed the men’s and women’s professional titles with impressive performances at IRONMAN 70.3 Lapu-Lapu Cebu on Sunday in the Philippines.

Both athletes excelled throughout the day, with Schoeman leading from start to finish while Visser made her move to the front on the bike.

Schoeman’s win was his first ever IRONMAN 70.3 professional victory, crossing the line in 4:02:31, more than four minutes clear of New Zealand’s Sam Osborne, with Great Britain’s Tom Bishop a further four minutes behind in third.

“I’m feeling really happy about my win, I came here to race for the win and also to learn as much from IRONMAN 70.3 racing as I can and I certainly learnt a lot from this heat and course, I’m very happy to pull off the win,” said Schoeman. “It’s my first ever IRONMAN 70.3 win as well so I’m very delighted to have done that here in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu and I’m very confident heading into the World Championships later this year.”

South Africa’s Schoeman was first out of the water following the 1.9km swim, a minute clear of Bishop, with Osborne hot on his heels. Schoeman kept his competition at arm’s length throughout the bike leg and then pushed ahead of the run, cheered on by the local supporters who lined the run course.

“I took the swim hard, I wanted to try and get a gap between myself and the other competitors, just purely using the swim to my strength and play the game of watching from the front, I wanted them to work hard to try and catch me or bridge the gap which I think played out like that,” said Schoeman. “I think they did try to catch but then I think it blew their legs towards the end of the bike and for me I was able to watch this and manage my efforts as much as possible on the bike and try and remain at a steady pace, stay as cool as possible as well without any spikes of sudden power or attacks or trying to go with someone, so I raced my own race from the front and coming in to T2 I was actually quite surprised that I had opened up a bigger gap just on the final eight ks or so, that was quite a good feeling.

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“It gave me some comfort that I could pace the run and do what I needed to do to finish because I knew it was going to be a hot run ahead and it was. I’m very happy that I was able to manage my efforts and not overexert,” he said. “It was very nice to get to the finish line without any pressure on my shoulders, it was challenging out there, it was hot, the bike course was actually very challenging with the hill on the bridge, overall I’m very happy with how it all played out and playing my tactics.

“A win like this means a lot to me, it’s my first IRONMAN 70.3 win, it will forever be a memory of mine, my first IRONMAN 70.3 victory in Cebu and it’s a very special destination, the culture and people are amazing, they are friendly, they are welcoming, they are enthusiastic about the sport and the support out on the course is insane, it was electrifying,” he said. “It’s so special to be a part of this race with that support, on the bike it was deafening with the screams and the cheers, and the support on the run it just lifts you up. It was so great to be a part of that, I really hope that the race will again fall within my schedule because I will definitely try and make it works, it’s a great race to be a part of.”

Dutch athlete Els Visser also claimed her first ever professional IRONMAN 70.3 race victory at Lapu-Lapu, taking the win in 4:21:29, three minutes ahead of Anne Reischmann, with Zsanett Bragmayer rounding out the podium.

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Bragmayer was first out of the water, ahead of Australians Aleisha Wesley and Sophie Perry, with Visser back in seventh, almost four minutes off the lead.

Visser quickly got to work at closing the gap, eventually taking the lead in the final 30kms of the ride. Reischmann was the other big mover on the bike, jumping from eighth to second over the 90kms.

Once on the run the top two got into their rhythm immediately, with the gap remaining constant across the 21.1km course.

“It was a true experience to race in the Philippines,” said Visser. “Racing in very challenging conditions and physically and mentally giving my best. The crowds were on another level.

“I am super grateful to have experienced this and can’t thank the people enough for all the cheers and support on course,” she said.

To illustrate the searing hot conditions at Mactan, Cebu, Schoeman’s 1:24:29  run split was the fastest of the day.

First Age-Grouper honors went to Japan’s Ryosuke Ohata (4:31:02), and the Philippines’ Rhia Stawicki (5:03:52).   Ohata ruled the men’s 40-44 age group and Stawicki won the 30-34 women’s age group.

Sunday’s race was the first time that professionals have raced in Cebu since 2019, with the professional athletes racing alongside more than 1,400 age-group participants, representing 55 countries.

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