Battle of the next generation in the men's Kona race
Following on from an incredible exciting women’s race, all eyes turned to the pro men’s race on Saturday and the first highly anticipated showdown between the new generation of athletes against the seasoned veterans. Conditions were perfect with almost wind-still conditions at the beginning of the race, and a light tailwind forecast for the second part of the course. This would mean that the effect and importance of the groups which would form on the bike leg, would be key to the end result.
Swiss Side had four of our pro men at the start: Patrick Lange, Denis Chevrot, Jan Van Berkel and Andi Dreitz.
The swim started hard and fast. By the half way mark, the group began to split up. Denis Chevrot managed to keep in the lead group, whereas 2x World Champion Patrick Lange couldn’t quite hold on and had to drop back to the chase pack, coming out on the bike 1.5 minutes behind the lead group.
On the bike, three groups quickly formed. A lead group with two athletes, followed by a chase group just one minute behind with the main contenders, and a third group (containing Patrick and Denis) two minutes back.
Once again however, as in the women’s race, penalties started hailing again at the 50km mark. Unfortunately Patrick was amongst them, with a 5min penalty sending him way back in the field, making it impossible for him to chase the key leading groups.
A huge fight was on at the front of the field with the favourites, Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfelt tactically playing with each other. In the meantime, the Frenchman Sam Laidlow put the hammer down, breaking off the front to open up a gap coming first into T2, eclipsing Cam Wurf's bike course record by 5 minutes with a 4:04:36 time for the 180km. He had a 6.5 min lead on the two Norwegian, who eventually came in together. Andi Dreitz was Swiss Side’s best placed athlete, heading into the run with a 14-minute gap to the lead. Patrick and Denis finished the bike together 4 minutes later.
Jan van Berkel unfortunately suffered a severe back spasm directly before the race, blocking his back completely. He still decided to participate but he knew early on in the race that he had no chance to compete, finishing the bike leg with a 45 minutes gap to the leader.
On the run, the expected fight between the Norwegians hotted up, and they both slowly closed down Sam Laidlow’s lead. At KM 36, Gustav Iden eventually caught and overtook Laidlow for the lead while Blummenfelt could hold the pace and dropped back 2 minutes in the Kona heat. In the end Iden could not be stopped, taking the crown of the 2022 World IRONMAN Champion, setting a new overall record time of 07:40:24, breaking the marathon record for good measure. Sam Laidlow held onto 2nd place with Kristian Blummenfelt coming in 3rd.
For the Swiss Side athletes, Patrick started the run in P24 and managed to fight back by the end, finishing sub-8-hours (07:58:20) despite his 5 minute penalty, crossing the line in P10.
Denis Chevrot finished in very respectable P14 with a gap of 23 minutes. Andi Dreitz was very happy to finish, coming back from his terrible injuries from his accident mid-year at St.George, finishing P30 (+47mins). The highest respect also to Jan Van Berkel who battled home despite his severe back issues, crossing the line eventually in P43.
The Top 5 ranking at the 2022 IRONMAN World Championship Men’s Race:
An exceptional return to Kona, with all the men’s records broken, with the exception of swim. A big congratulations again to Gustav!