Ten days ago I raced Ironman France in Nice and finished 5th. This race is one of few in Ironman calendar with a hilly bike course and one of those races I’d really like to win some day. Goal for this year was top3.
Swim went well. I got out of the water four minutes behind group of favorites. Considerning my times in the pool I should have swam faster. The cause for this could be too small wetsuit and I’ll check this as soon as I get bigger one.
I started the bike with eventual winner, Victor del Corral. We caught a lot of people in the first 30-40k and at the bottom of the big climb, quite a large group formed around us. I led the way on the climb. When I noticed other’s are struggling I pushed more and managed to get away. Victor was the only one who kept me in sight. I had around 30s advantage over him at the top of the climb, but he caught me again on the flat part after the climb. Some 20k later Antony Costes also caught up with us. I felt like I pushed a bit too hard on the climb, but I managed to recover on the downhill and felt good once again. Somewhere around kilometer 150 I hit a bump and could hear the sound of air going out of my front tire.
First thought was that the race is over. Then it crossed my mind that I can still get back in top10, so I tried to change the tire as soon as possible and fight until the end. Spare tube was wrapped in electrical tape. Since I haven’t had flat in a long while the tape got old and started to crack once I tried to unwrap it. Due to this I lost a bit more time than I should have, around 7 minutes.
Once in T2 I counted 11 or 12 bikes there and my gap to the leader was 15 minutes. I felt good at the beginning and started at 3:50 – 3:55 min/km pace. I usually start a bit more conservative, but this time I had nothing to lose, so I decided to keep this pace for as long as possible. Turns out I could keep it much longer than I thought.
We had 4 loop run, so it was hard to judge your position in later loops when it got crowded with people just starting the run. First 5 men had a lead roller. At the start of the last lap I was still 3 minutes behind 5th placed Blanchart. That seemed a bit too much to close in 10 kilometers. However, 5k later at the last turnaround I was only 40s behind. I managed to pick up the pace a bit and few kilometers later I was in 5th and kept that position till the end.
I didn’t meet my prerace goal, but given the conditions I’m happy with my race. From a long term point of view maybe it’s good that I had a puncture. Now I know I can run much faster than I previously thought and that I probably start the run a bit too conservative. If it wasn’t for puncture I would get off the bike with Victor and the race for podium would probably be a bit more exciting.