Portugal’s Filipe Azevedo and Sarah Crowley of Australia fueled their respective title bids in the bike leg then held off their rivals’ fightback in the grueling closing run to crown themselves the 2023 Alveo IRONMAN 70.3 Davao champions at the Azuela Cove in Davao on Sunday.
Azevedo, 30, figured in a three-way battle with Serbian Ognjen Stojanovic and Tuan Chun Chang of Taiwan in swim then took command by nearly four minutes over Chang with a blistering pace in bike (2:00:17) by Transition 2. He then lived through the punishing run (1:20:38) in hot conditions to prevail in 3:51:09 over the 1.9k swim-90k bike-21k run distance event powered by Petron.
Stojanovic turned in the best clocking in the closing leg (1:18:02) but fell short of his comeback bid, settling for runner-up in 3:52:28, while Chang timed 3:57:12 for third followed by American Robbie Deckard and Zsombor Deak of Romania, who clocked 4:09:01 and 4:14:27, respectively.
Crowley later came in with a 4:20:14 clocking to beat American Lauren Brandon (4:22:49) and Lottie Lucas of United Arab Emirates (4:25:09) in their side of the pro battle as the Brisbane native kept her hot streak going following a rare sweep of three Australian IRONMAN races last year, including the IM Western Australia in Busselton last December.
Brandon actually came out of the water nearly two minutes ahead French Julie Iemmolo, Lucas and Crowley. But the 40-year-old Crowley unleashed a strong finishing kick in the next leg to seize the lead then flashed superb staying power by dominating the early part of the run.
Crowley, who placed third in the World Triathlon Championship in 2019, built a near three-minute lead then survived Brandon’s last-ditch rally to share top honors with Azevedo in the event which marked the pros’ return in the country’s version of the IRONMAN series.
The Dubai-based Azevedo, who also ruled the 2019 IM 70.3 Shanghai and topped his country’s Middle Distance Triathlon National Championships last year, and Crowley pocketed $30,000 each.
Iemmolo timed 4:37:25 for fourth while Japan’s Ai Ueda clocked 4:43:30 for fifth in the distaff side of the event, the only pro-laced endurance race organized by The IRONMAN Group/Sunrise Events, Inc. this year.
Multi-titled Dimity-Lee Duke struggled in swim and never recovered, ending up with 4:59:21 for sixth while American Amy Vantassel placed seventh in 5:07:31.
The premier endurance race, which drew more than a thousand participants from 46 countries, also staked 55 slots to this year’s World Championships, including 30 age-group berths and 25 extra spots for women. The world tilt is slated Aug. 26-27 in Lahti Finland.
The race, which also featured relay all-male, relay all-female, and relay mixed events on top of the individual competitions in various age-group divisions, also put into focus a 12-man team competition (Tribu Maisugon) held in honor of the 11 tribes of the host city which staked P550,000, including P500,000 from Davao City and P50K from Aboitiz.
Backers of the event were Alveo, Petron, Lungsod ng Dabaw, Azuela Cove, Aboitiz, Aboitiz Power, Apo Agua, Davao Light, Lightwater, Prudential Guarantee, One Sport, Cignal and Philstar and global premier partners Active, Gatorade, HOKA, ROKA and Vinfast and technical partners Athletic Brewing Co., Biostarks, Breitling, Fulgaz, Hyperice, Qatar Airways, Santini and Wahoo while Always Advancing, EKOI and Compressport are the Asia supply partners and Outside and Sportograf.com are media partners.