Alistair Brownlee triumphs on Ironman 70.3 debut
Alistair Brownlee has produced one of the most impressive Ironman debuts of all time today in Utah. Facing a formidable and hugely experienced field at the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship in St. George, the Brit double-Olympic Games winner stormed to victory ahead of Canada’s Lionel Sanders, with his 3:41:58 overall time breaking the course record to boot.
The win automatically qualifies Brownlee for September’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Tennessee, and silences anyone who doubted his ability to make the jump to middle-distance racing from ITU events.
The women’s race was won by fellow Brit Holly Lawrence, who dominated from the get-go to produce another commanding performance in 113km racing.
Brownlee made his debut at the 113km distance late last month at Challenge Mogan Gran Canaria, where he crossed the line in 4:03:09, beating the next man across the tape, Belgian Pieter Heemeryck, by over eight minutes.
Where Gran Canaria had a shallow pro field, the Utah contenders were daunting, with Germany’s former Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world champion Sebastien Kienle, the fastest official Ironman in history, Canada’s Lionel Sanders, fellow Brit and former ITU rival Tim Don (a man with plenty of 70.3 victories on his racing palmares, Canada’s Brent McMahon and South Africa’s recent Ironman African Championship winner Ben Hoffman.
Brownlee would need a win to automatically qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga in September, and he came second out of the 1.9km swim in 23:18 behind Ben Kanute and just in front of his Olympic 2012 domestique, Brit Stuart Hayes, and 42secs ahead of Don. Kienle was 2mins back and Sanders over 3mins, and Alistair would power into the lead over Kanute within 20mins on the 90km bike
THE CHASE IS ON