Els Visser took away the unpleasant aftertaste she had from Challenge Wanaka – not because the race was not good, not because she herself was not good, but because she rode badly unexpectedly and saw victory pass – with a great win at Ironman New Zealand. Last night (Dutch time, editor’s note), Visser had to fight hard for his victory and that makes the victory all the sweeter.
After the swim, Visser finished sixth: she swam 57:02 minutes and then faced a 6:26 minute deficit to the fastest swimmer. It was Rebecca Clarke, the woman Visser did badly with in Wanaka. Behind Clarke, Hannah Berry, Meredith Kessler, Laura Wood and Ai Ueda emerged from the water before Visser set foot ashore.
Visser, an image we know now, started to gain momentum on his bike. Still, it took him a long time to fight his way to the front in this competition. After 25 kilometers, Visser had already moved into third place, although Kessler continued to ride in her wake for a long time, but she couldn’t just close the gap to Clarke and behind Berry. It took over seventy kilometers before Kessler could no longer keep pace with Visser and by then Visser had closed about half his gap to the top two.
We had to wait the last thirty kilometers for things to go very quickly to take the lead in the race; at kilometer 161 Visser was still facing a 1:06 minute deficit and once back in T2 she had converted that into a 1:01 minute lead. Berry and Clarke followed soon after, while number four Kessler had actually already been seen; she followed at over seventeen minutes.
During the race, Visser only saw his lead grow; he undoubtedly gave wings to the Dutch. It was only in the last kilometers that she lost more time, but her lead was already over four minutes, so victory did not escape Visser. She won the race in 9:05:44. Berry was second in 9:08:33 and Clarke third in 9:10:11.
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