Bart Aernouts wins Ironman 70.3 South Africa
20 January 2013 – Bart Aernouts of the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team has won today’s Ironman 70.3 South Africa. Clocking in at 4:03:53, Bart beat out Ronnie Schildknecht (Switzerland; 4:06:23) and Tim Don (UK; 4:10:40) for the victory. With his first race of 2013, Bart made it a successful season start for the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team. Following Marino Vanhoenacker’s 2012 win, this is the second year in a row a Belgian athlete takes the title. Teammate Axel Zeebroek had an off-day and finished 13th with a time of 4:27:31.
On the women’s side, Uplace athlete Tine Deckers had to retire from the race after she lost her goggles in the swim. Defending champion Jodie Swallow (UK; 4:34:29) took the women’s title. Susie Hignett (UK; 4:43:38) and Lucie Reed (Czech Republic; 4:44:19) completed the podium.
The Uplace men got to a strong start. Axel left the water in third position (23:50), seven seconds behind fastest swimmer Marko Albert. Bart was eleventh with a solid swim time of 26:45. On the bike, Bart mounted an impressive push forward. Halfway through the bike leg, he claimed second place, only to take the lead five kilometers later. At the start of the half marathon, he was two minutes clear of the rest of the field, with Schildknecht and Albert in second and third position. Bart would not relinquish that lead for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, Axel was struggling on the bike and, suffering from painful glutes, lost time and his top ranking. He finished the bike leg in 16th. In the run, he managed to move up a few spots, giving him a thirteenth place finish.
Bart Aernouts was obviously delighted with his first win of the year: “Winning is always fun, for the team and myself. Starting the year with a victory both motivates and reassures you. With the birth of my daughter, my winter training was shorter and different than usual. I did a good training camp in Lanzarote in early January, but in the end I still had a lot of questions going into this first race. I am especially satisfied with my swim. I came out of the water with the second group, together with athletes that had always been stronger than me in previous years. That gave me a boost for the bike leg. I tried to move up as fast as possible, and when I had the lead, to move ahead of the rest. The half marathon was hard work, but I managed to complete a pretty constant race. Perhaps the saying is true and Paulien’s birth did make me fly… ” Bart will now stay in South Africa for more than two weeks of training. Next up for him is the Abu Dhabi triathlon.
Axel Zeebroek left for South Africa in good shape and with podium aspirations. As a result, his result was a disappointment: “The first race of the season is usually all or nothing. Today was maybe not nothing, but certainly not good enough. My swim was ok, as it usually is. But my performance on the bike was really poor: no energy, no strength and my glutes hurt so bad I could not stand up on the bike. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to run, but ultimately my half marathon was decent enough. All in all, this was not a good race for me. I had hoped for a better performance and result.”
Tine Deckers drew the most attention before the race. 14 weeks pregnant, South Africa was her last race before she gives birth to her first baby this summer. She was eager for another strong performance in South Africa, where she had finished second and third in previous years.
In the end, Tine didn’t get the chance to prove herself. After 200 meters, she lost her swimming goggles. Her race was over before it had even begun: “Some might be able to continue without goggles, but I can’t, especially in this ocean swim. It is a pity. This was my only chance to race during my pregnancy. I really wanted get the strong result I know I had in me today.”