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Bart Aernouts 3rd in Ironman South Africa, the Standard Bank African Championship; Liz Blatchford 2nd in Challenge Half Batesman Bay; Ronnie Schildknecht 8th in IM 70.3 California

It became a successful weekend for the Uplace-BMC Pro Triathlon Team with 2 strong podium finishes. This brings the 2015 total already on 7 podium finishes for the Uplace-BMC Pro Triathlon Team.

Today, Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) was outstanding in the Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa in the Ironman Standard Bank African Championship. The 2013 World Champion led from start to finish and won with a strong run in 8:16:35. Ivan Rana (ESP: 8:30:45) came second and Bart Aernouts (BEL: 8:35:59) came third.

In Batesman Bay, Liz Blatchford was racing in front from start to finish. The run leg became a shoulder-to-shoulder battle of 21km. In the last 60m, Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED:4:27:48) took the victory in this exciting race, Liz Blatchford (AUS: 4:27:49) came second, while Mary Beth Ellis (USA) came third.

In California, Jan Frodeno (GER: 3:47:08) took advantage of beautiful race conditions and he used very fast run splits to win at yesterday’s Accenture Ironman 70.3 California triathlon, crossing the finish line in 3:47:08. Frodeno, earned his second consecutive win in Oceanside followed by Andy Potts (USA:3:48:43) and Lionel Sanders (CAN:3:49:19). Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI: 3:58:50) who finished a tough 6-week training block came 8th.

Bart Aernouts 3rd in Ironman South Africa

Very solid performance

Bart Aernouts had a very solid swim, leaving the water in 52:07(3,8km) less than 3’ behind the leading group. The leading group, with amongst others Frederik Van Lierde, Bas Diederen and Kyle Buckingham, were riding strong in the first half of the bike leg, Frederik Van Lierde decided to push harder and got a lead of over 14’ at T2 on Kyle Buckingham, Bart Aernouts moved up to the 3th place during the bike leg (180km: 4:44:30). In hot conditions, the marathon seemed to become a close fight with Eneko Llanos between km 15 and km 33. But in the final kms, Bart Aernouts kept a solid pace that got him on a well-deserved championship podium (42,2km: 2:55:04).

Very happy with the result

Bart Aernouts was clearly satisfied after a tough race: ”This was by far the toughest Ironman I ever did. It was a very hard day. Ending on a podium was the best possible result for today. The swim leg was very decent; I was able to leave the water with the chasing group. The bike leg started fast. The wind made it really hard. I was able to move up to the 3rd place by T2. The first part of the marathon went fine. After the first round, I encountered some tough moments. Eneko Llanos and I ran closely together for 10km. With a steady pace in the end, I was able to secure my podium finish. I am happy I didn’t give up. I came here to qualify for IM Hawaii and to do a good race. Mission accomplished!”

Liz Blatchford 2nd in Challenge Half Batesman Bay

From start to finish in front

Although Liz Blatchford lost the race in the last meters, she is clearly happy with her performance. Starting off with a strong swim, Liz came out the water together with Mary Beth Ellis. After racing together for 70km on the bike, Yvonne Van Vlerken joined them. Together they finished the bike leg. The top 3 women left T2 within seconds. It became a nail-biting race, where a sprint in the final meters decided over today’s winner.

Close second but pleased with everything

Liz Blatchford felt good today: “It was a really close race all day. I swam and rode up til 70k on the bike with Mary Beth Ellis, when Yvonne Van Vlerken joined us. The 3 of us came in T2 within 5 to 10 seconds. Then it became a running race. Yvonne and I ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the whole run and it came down to a sprint finish in the last 100m. Unfortunately, she was better than me. I am very close second but I am pleased with everything. I swam, biked and ran well. So, it’s a pity, I couldn’t finish the job at the end. Thanks to every one for the support out there. Next stop for me is Ironman 70.3 Busselton in Western Australia, followed by the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam.”

Ronnie Schildknecht 8th in Ironman 70.3 Oceanside

Hard hit out

Ronnie Schildknecht had a very decent swim (1,9km: 24:50), leaving the water only 2’06” after Andy Potts. On the bike, Ronnie Schildknecht quickly caught the leading group. After 40km, he felt the fatigue of the training camp and had to let go the leading group (90km: 2:10:36). “On the run, I did what I could. It was a tough training. When you are in front, you can push a bit harder. I was in the 8th position at the end of the run, so I decided the last 5km to slow down a bit. The rest of the race was pretty hard. (21km: 1:18:51).”

Solid start of the season

Ronnie Schildknecht was satisfied with this result at the end of an intense training block of 6 weeks: “I had a solid first race of the season, it is my stepping stone to Ironman Texas in 6 weeks. This race was an ‘end-of-the-training-camp-race’ for me. If I wanted to have a really good result, I had to taper more. I didn’t want to back off on my training plan. It was a hard hit out. I didn’t expect to be in front today after the tough training block I just finished. I am not disappointed at all. It was a decent start of my season, knowing that Ironman Texas is my big focus.”

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