Antwerp locals Bart Aernouts and Sofie Goos defend their respective titles in Belgium at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Antwerp triathlon. Two more Belgians finish on podium with them, Axel Zeebroek and Sophie De Groote who both finished in second place.
At 11am the triathletes hit the water of the Galgenweel lake on Antwerp's Left Bank for the 1.9 km swim. Even before halfway into the swimming segment the Belgian Axel Zeebroek took the lead, followed by the Dutchman Edo Van der Meer and the Russian Dmitry Rostyagaev. Defending champion Bart Aernouts was fourth there.
Zeebroek was first out of the water, closely followed by the rest of the leaders who had formed at the end of the swimming leg: the Belgian Tim Brydenbach, van der Meer, Germany's Sean Donnelly, the Frenchman Ivan Risti, the Slovakian Pavel Simko, the Briton Ian Leitch and Rostyagaev.
Edo van der Meer left the transition area the first and started his 90km long bicycle course across the Antwerp port. He was soon joined by Donnelly and the Australian Ollie Whistler. Just behind them came a group of three more riders: Risti, Simko and Rostyagaev. Not much further, however, Axel Zeebroek joined. Along with Donnelly and Whistler he rode away from the others.
After 30km cycling only Zeebroek and Donnelly were in the lead. Whistler had fallen to the back. The next few riders were Aernouts, Romain Guillaume, Simko, Van der Meer, Mark Fachbach, Risti and Rostyagaev. As the miles progressed, Aernouts returned on Zeebroek and Donnelly more and more.
Axel Zeebroek started the 21km running segment the first. He was two minutes ahead of Donnelly and three of Aernouts. Whistler and Guillaume were a bit further still. There Fachbach and Simko no longer were contenders for the race victory. During his run, Aernouts continued his move to the front of the race. Approximately 6km into run the defending champion had made up for half the difference already.
Slightly beyond halfway leader Aernouts reeled in Zeebroek, and dropped him straightaway. Bart Aernouts went on to win the Antwerp Ironman for a second time, in a time of 3u45m37s. Compared to last year he needed exactly two minutes more for the entire course, which given this year's strong winds, still is a powerful display. When he left the water of the Galgenweel, Aernouts was 3:16 behind on Zeebroek. He eventually won, leading 2:48. In total Aernouts made up for more than six minutes on Zeebroek during the cycling and running segments.
2011 Ironman 70.3 Antwerp Results:
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
|Sophie De Groote||4:22:40|
In the women's race defending champion Sofie Goos had to make up after the swimming segment too. The Danish Michelle Vesterby was the first out of the water in 23:56, 2:14 faster than Sofie and 2:54 faster than the Dutch Naomi Cermak. In the cycling event the athlete from Antwerp lived up to her own vow - victory and victory only - and powered on to reel in Vesterby first and then drop her altogether.
Halfway into the cycling Goos was one minute ahead of the Danish athlete. Soon after that, the other Belgian Sophie, De Groote, overtook Vesterby. When Goos started her 21km run, she a lead De Groote 1:18. Vesterby was third at nearly three minutes. During her run Goos consolidated her lead and she won the Antwerp Ironman 1:16 ahead of De Groote. The Swiss Natascha Badmann, six-time Ironman winner in Hawai had passed Vesterby by towards the end and claimed third at 5:20. Vesterby finished fourth, the British Corinne Abraham fifth.
During the cycling segment of the Antwerp Ironman 70.3 one of the participants, Arthur Aghajanyan (from Antwerp), sadly enough crashed in the Waaslandtunnel and later on died in the hospital.
No other participants were involved in the accident. Emergency services arrived immediately and Arthur was rushed to the nearby Stuivenberg Hospital, where he died of his injuries later.
Arthur was a keen sportsman and an outstanding student at the University of Antwerp.
The organisation of the Antwerp Ironman 70.3 wishes to express its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Arthur.
Source: Ironman 70.3 Antwerp
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