Chris Leiferman took home 4th place in Challenge Miami, finishing only 11 seconds behind 3rd place. Chris finished in a time of 2:41:46 over 1.6k swim, 64k bike and 17k run. Teammate Pablo Dapena Gonzalez crossed the line in 12th place after 2:45:47. Jan Frodeno (GER; 2:37:57) won the race with Lionel Sanders (CAN; 2:40:28) and Ben Kanute (USA; 2:41:35) completing the podium.
Strong allround performance
Challenge Miami served as season opener for both Chris Leiferman and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez. Pablo didn’t miss his start and settled in the lead group during the first part of the swim. It was only in the final part that the big group split into two as Pablo exited the water in 5th place leading the first chase group, only 30” behind. A few moments later, Chris jumped on his bike in 26th, 1’50 down on the leaders.
At first Pablo was able to match the pace of the leaders, but when the strong bikers took over, Dapena switched to his own pace. Leiferman found himself in a group with Dreitz and Sanders as they charged through the field. At the halfway mark, Chris moved into the top 10. Continuing his strong bike performance in the second half, the American was able to rack his bike in 6th place, trailing 3rd by 2’50 starting the closing 17k run. Pablo kept riding his own pace to enter T2 in 13th place.
On the run, Chris kept doing what he did on the bike: moving up through the field. After 5k he was able to take over 5th place, but he wasn’t done yet. Between kilometers 11 and 12, the BMC triathlete made his move to jump from 5th to 3rd position. Chris gave his all, but with 2k to go, he had to settle for 4th as a charging Kanute took over 3rd place. Leiferman kept putting pressure on Kanute towards the finish line, but ended up only 11 seconds behind his countryman. A superb performance from Chris, mixing it up with very best in the world in such a stacked field. Teammate Pablo Dapena Gonzalez crossed the line in 12th place.
Full gas from the start
Afterwards Chris Leiferman and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez reflected on their performances in Miami: “I had a decent swim", Chris started. "There were a lot of people that went out hot, so it was hectic from the start. I can’t complain about my result in the swim, because when I exited the water, I noticed a massive string of athletes in front of me. So, for me, that was good to enter T1 with the group. On the bike, I was working with Andreas Dreitz, a real powerhouse. He was tearing my legs apart, but I had to follow him to make up places. It was a short race, so it was full gas from the start. Coming off the bike, I started running with Lionel Sanders and his pace was on fire. I fell off that pace and saw Ben Kanute pass me in the beginning of the final lap, but I’m happy I could hang on for 4th place."
Pablo added: "After 17 months, I am happy to be racing again, but I am dissapointed with the result and the feeling I had in the race. In the swim I fought to stay in the first group. I just lost contact over half way but managed to lead the second group out of the water with the leaders still in sight. Unfortunately in T1 I made a little mistake which cost me a handful of seconds. This meant I had the give it all to close the small gap to the leading group which I eventually managed to do after two laps of chasing. Unfortunately in the technical section of the course I misjudge a turn and lose connection with the leading group. I couldn't get back on to the front group and was riding by myself for the rest of the bike. People were passing me but I didn't have the legs to go with them. I was hoping for a good feeling on the run but I didn't run well either. I am very dissapointed. It is probably normal that I lacked the competitive edge after 17 months without racing. After my injury I worked so hard to come back to my best level. And I know I always need a first race to get that real race sharpness back. But I wanted to demonstrate that I am back at my best level. It was not to be today. But I keep my head up high, keep working hard and really look forward for the next challenge.