What a phenomenal day of racing it was for the BMC-Vifit Pro Triathlon Team. Patrik Nilsson put together a world class performance to run his way to the Ironman North American Championship title in Texas. Earlier in the day Emma Pallant took an outstanding victory in Challenge Gran Canaria as her team mate Manuel Küng claimed an excellent 2nd place.
SUCCESSFULL START OF THE DAY WITH WIN AND 2ND PLACE AT CHALLENGE GRAN CANARIA
The day started successfully for BMC-Vifit as Emma Pallant took the victory and Manuel Küng clinched 2nd place at Challenge Gran Canaria. Emma (4:36:07) posted a dominating performance by controlling the race from the early stages on the bike and building a huge lead. Tessa Kortekaas (NED; 4:48:58) and Celine Schaerer (SWI; 4:51:03) joined Emma on the podium. Manuel (4:02:21) had a fantastic swim and bike to lead the race for a very long time. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL; 4:00:44) won the race as Nan Oliveras (SPA; 4:04:13) rounded out the podium.
Emma Pallant had a very solid swim that saw here immediately in contention for the lead. She was trailing the lead by 1’20, but closed down the gap fast in the early stages on the bike. Pallant kept pushing hard on the rolling course and opened up a big lead towards the end of the bike leg. The BMC-Vifit athlete entered T2 with an advantage of 6’20 over 2nd place. The hard run course played in Emma’s cards. She kept extending her lead to cross the finish line in a time of 4:36:07. A very dominating performance as Emma finished the race with more than 12’ of an advantage.
Excellent second place for Manuel Küng
Coming off of a little injury, Manuel Küng kicked in his turbo right from the start of the race. He came back to shore in 1st place with an advantage of 35” over the rest of the field. On the bike, Küng kept defending his lead more than successfully. He was able to build up an even bigger gap towards T2. The BMC-Vifit athlete started the run a small minute in advance of 2nd place. He kept pushing hard on the run, but in the first part of the run Manuel had to settle for 2nd. He made sure his podium spot was never in danger as the Swiss athlete claimed 2nd place in a time of 4:02:21.
Emma Pallant was very happy with her performance: "It was great to feel so strong today. It was a tough race. We knew it would be hilly and hot, but still I loved it though. It was awesome to see Manu smash it out on the bike as well. And also for me, it was a fun day out there. I am very pleased to take the victory and especially happy with my performance today”.
Afterwards Manuel Küng admitted he started the race with a clear plan. “It was a really good day. I knew I had to push the pace in the swim and bike, because I was unsure about my running abilities. I’m really happy with my swim-bike performance, but with my run as well actually. I held it together quite well to come home in 2nd. So, a really good race and a happy feeling".
WORLD CLASS PERFORMANCE BY PATRIK NILSSON IN IRONMAN TEXAS
Patrik Nilsson took home the victory in IronmanTexas in incredible fashion. He raced in front of the race all day long to make his move halfway through the run. The BMC-Vifit athlete broke the tape in a time of 7:50:55. On the podium Nilsson was accompanied by David Plese (SLO; 8:01:50) and Andrew Starykowicz (USA; 8:03:53).
Championship title and Hawaii qualification secured
After the disappointment in South Africa, Patrik Nilsson immediately set his eyes on IM Texas. After a few weeks of acclimatisation in the Texan heat, it was finally time to toe the line. From the very beginning of the swim it was clear Patrik felt good today. He exited the water in 3rd place and a fast transition saw him move up to 2nd, following the leader in his footsteps. In the first kilometres on the bike, Nilsson took over the lead and found his pace. Around 30k into the bike, Patrik settled for 2nd as he saw Starykowicz passing him. The BMC-Vifit athlete stuck to his pace, counting on his running legs. Riding alone on the bike all day, he managed to keep Starykowicz within his grasp and keep the chasing athletes far enough behind him. Jumping off his bike at T2, Patrik trailed the leader by 9’. Similar as on the bike, he immediately found his race pace and started to steadily close down the gap. The Swedish athlete played things smart as he knew there was enough time to make up lost ground, Patrik didn’t rush into thing. He kept his pace high and halfway through the marathon, he made his move to take over the lead of the race for a second time that day. In the first kilometres after that charge, Nilsson opened up a gap and kept extending that lead. By posting the fastest running split of the day (2:42:21) he crossed the finish line in a very fast time of 7:50:55. With this victory, Patrik Nillson clinched his ticket to Kona.
A few moments after crossing the finish victoriously Patrik Nilsson reflected on his race. “It went very good today. I had a more than solid swim in the first group. On the bike, I was all on my own, but I tried to keep my pace. I jumped off the bike in second and from that point onwards it was the same as on the bike: managing my pace. I tried to run the final lap a little bit safer, just to make sure I made it to the finish line. It is an amazing day for sure”.
Unfortunately, Will Clarke had to withdraw from the race. After a very good swim and strong solo bike ride of 180k, Will started the marathon in 5th place. From that point onwards he felt he didn’t have much energy left in the tank. A bad stomach, sore feet saw him calling it a day early on the run.
Photo credit IM Texas James Mitchell, Challenge Gran Canaria Activ'images