What finishes on Saturday in Athletic Brewing IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside 2022 in California.
All of the top five in the men’s race changed in the last 3km, with Alistair Brownlee seemingly in control, from race leader to losing the podium. We have a photo-finish for second place and his career performance to date from the winner of the Jackson Laundry race. It was Canada day.
Swimming – Kanute leads
The starting roster is full of strong swimmers – but the opening 1.9km doesn’t do much to separate the pre-race favorites from the main athletes – perhaps – realizing that chances of qualifying are very limited.
Defending and two-time champion Ben Kanute took the lead at 22:28, with two-time Olympic Champion Brownlee just a step or two behind, looking comfortable. Only 10 seconds separate the nine athletes, with Steve McKenna (AUS), Sam Appleton (AUS), Brennen Smith (CAN), Rudy Von Berg (USA), Eric Lagerstrom (USA), Jason West (USA) and David McNamee ( GBR) completes that main group.
Some of the big names a little further back are Andreas Dreitz (GER) +1:33 (19), Lionel Sanders (CAN) +1:57 (24) and Bart Aernouts (BEL) +3:12 (36). The Belgian will be looking to make an impact from there, but Dreitz and Sanders have started pretty much in line with their previous form. They can be expected to quickly shoot back into the top 10 based on previous history.
Bikes – And then there are five
An hour into the bikes and unsurprisingly, the large group of leaders thinned out. Kanute and Brownlee regularly headed affairs and pushed the pace, and nine were soon reduced to five – namely Brownlee, Appleton, Kanute, Von Berg and Laundry.
Making big moves from behind were Arnaud Guilloux (FRA) and Sanders, who are now in the top 10 but are still seconds short of the group leading in the first 40km.
The first half of the ride was pretty quick in terms of terrain, but as the athletes moved toward Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Base, the road began to climb. Brownlee hit the front and turned the screw a little more in his favorite environment. He seemed quite comfortable with his new BMC Time Machine, and took the opportunity to try and share it further.
Usually one of the strongest and most aggressive riders on the circuit, Von Berg is rarely seen up front, perhaps playing a shrewd tactical game in his first race of the 2022 season. We’ll find out in an hour’s time if Rudy also has running legs.
Despite Brownlee’s pressure, the leading five-man group all arrived at T2 in close order, just seven seconds separating Appleton (first) and Von Berg (5) in the down line. Guilloux and Sanders held on to their positions in the closing mile, reaching T2 in just over two minutes – but far from the fight.
Run – Laundry soars to glory
Kanute was quick through the transition while Brownlee wasn’t, but 2km into the run, the pair – along with Von Berg – were all together at the front of the run. Laundry and Appleton were just seconds off the pace, with Sanders having put a few seconds into Guillaume, now 2:21 back on the leading trio.
Closed to the 10km mark and Brownlee started to move, paving some way downhill and away from Von Berg, who now has Laundry finishing the top three. A third successive Oceanside win for Kanute now looks unlikely, barely a minute into fourth, while Sanders will leapfrog Appleton and move up to fifth. While ‘No Limits’ did well, he almost matched the pace of the second Brownlee.
Brownlee continues to move well. His lead isn’t huge, but visually he looks relaxed and very in control with apparently more cards to play if needed. Sanders was fastest on the 15km track, but gained less than two seconds per kilometer. While Kanute is within reach for Canada, Laundry and Von Berg’s pace will make even a podium slot for Lionel a challenge.
Entering the last 5km and Laundry trying hard. Not only is he looking to secure second place, but looks set to challenge Brownlee for the top spot. We see how quickly Jackson closes his race in the Collins Cup – can he clinch the highest-profile win of his career here? Fifth in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, Canada is a proven player.
The cleaners caught Brownlee and didn’t look back – he darted right past him and the doubles Olympic champion didn’t respond. Brownlee’s nine-second lead turned into a 38-second deficit over the mile. What a turnaround, it seems out of nowhere.
Alistair faded so badly that even a podium was suddenly not guaranteed. Out of nowhere, the race exploded in the last 10 minutes.
Laundry took the title in several styles, “execute as you do in your dream I can’t believe it”, while behind it Sanders and Von Berg blew past the fading Brownlee at the finish line and raced shoulder to shoulder under the final carpet. Crossing the line together, at the same time, it took a photo finish to separate the pair with Sanders claiming seconds by five hundredths of a second.
Sanders closed with 1:08:29 as Brownlee went from a seemingly certain winner to his way off the podium – and a few more questions to answer before he races at the IRONMAN World Championship in St George.
IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside 2022 Results
Saturday 2 April 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Jackson Laundry (CAN) – 3:45:00
- 2 Lionel Sanders (CAN) – 3:45:33
- 3 Rudy Von Berg (USA) – 3:45:33
- 4. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 3:45:55
- 5. Ben Kanute (USA) – 3:46:32
- 6. Jason West (USA) – 3:48:20
- 7. Sam Appleton (AUS) – 3:49:45
- 8. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) – 3:50:39
- 9. Arnaud Guilloux (FRA) – 3:52:01
- 10. Bart Aernouts (BEL) – 3:52:56
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