The second major North American Ironman event of 2009 is upon us, and another field of quality pro men and women await the start. Jim Vance previews the professional field for this weekend’s Ironman Lake Placid.
Written by: Jim Vance
The distance of the race and the strategies involved, and an element of luck, make the race fairly intriguing and unpredictable, despite the best preparations and form of an athlete. Some athletes will falter despite all indications prior to the race showing otherwise, while others will rise from obscurity to make their name in the sport.
A great example of rising from obscurity came last year when Caitlin Snow won the women’s race (then as Caitlin Shea-Kenney), despite never finishing better than 11th in a women’s pro field. Her victory last year was keyed by a course marathon record of sub-three hours. After setting the run course record against a stellar field at the recent Revolution Three Triathlon, her current run form makes her the favorite again for the race.
She will be challenged again by Kim Loeffler and Hilary Biscay, who last year held their advantages over Snow until past mile 20 of the marathon. The two-loop bike course is known as one of the toughest in the sport, and the ladies must take a risk to push the pace on the bike to gain enough distance to hold off the hard-charging Snow. Last year’s 20-minute gap over Snow at T2 was not enough, so strategy will be vital.
A few of the other athletes who could be major factors in the race include the fast swimming and always consistent Tereza Macel, and 2007 Ironman World Championships runner-up Samantha McGlone. McGlone is making her comeback to Ironman after an injury riddled 2008. Does she have the form to compete for the top spot? No one knows for sure, but everyone knows her competitiveness will be a lot to handle no matter her fitness and health.
Women’s results prediction:
1. Caitlin Snow
2. Kim Loeffler
3. Samantha McGlone
4. Hilary Biscay
5. Tereza Macel
On the Men’s side, defending champion Francisco Pontano is still recovering from his Coeur d’Alene victory last month, and will not be competing. This leaves the door open for multi-Ironman Champion Jason Shortis of Australia to add another victory to his long and impressive resume.
Shortis’ biggest challenge should come from 2007 Ironman Wisconsin Champion Maik Twelsiek of Germany, who will use his strong biking skills to race for the win.
If Shortis can keep Twelsiek close enough on the bike, the race will be his. Also seeking to crack the podium will be the fleet-footed Petr Vabrousek, who finished second here last year, the strong cycling Matt Lieto, and Christian Brader who will look to improve on his fourth place finish of 2008.
Men’s results prediction:
1. Jason Shortis
2. Petr Vabrousek
3. Maik Twelsiek
4. Christian Brader
5. Matt Lieto
Look for other names to possibly rise from obscurity and challenge these predictions, for both the men’s and women’s fields. If they can challenge these heavy favorites, they will not remain in obscurity for very long.
Jim Vance holds an elite license for USAT, and has multiple top 8 Ironman finishes to his credit, including 3rd at Ironman Florida in 2006. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow his writings and training advice at his coaching blog, CoachVance.blogspot.com
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