Friday, 10 October 2014

Ironman World Championship 2014 - Pro Female Preview

The Ironman World Championship goes off on October 11th.  Last year I picked three of the top four correctly (though not in the right order) with Mirinda Carfrae fourth - my belief then was that the women's game had changed and there would be a front-pack swim group that would transition into a lead bike group like the men, isolating Rinny and neutralizing her devastating run speed.  That did play out, with a nice group up front...who proceeded to not appear interested in pushing the pace (with the exception of Rachel Joyce near the end of the ride).  Carfrae then ran a course-record 2:50 to run them all down and won her second world title.

2014 Executive Summary
Conditions are ripe for the same predicted outcome to play out this year.  Last year the swim conditions were calm and the currents favoured the weaker swimmers, narrowing swim gaps and keeping the race relatively close out of the water.  This year there are forecasted swells and potentially nasty winds out on the bike course.

Like last year there is a 5 minute male-female pro swim stagger.  This has been well-received to allow the women to have a 'fairer' race with less interference from the pro men in the swim and to minimize disruption from the slower pro men on the bike.  Lead group swimmers that are back this year include Jodie Swallow, Leanda Cave, Meredith Kessler, Amanda Stevens, Liz Blatchford, Rachel Joyce, Caroline Steffen, Michelle Vesterby and Gina Crawford.  Add to them the Angry Bird Daniela Ryf as well as a healthy Mary Beth Ellis and there will be fireworks up front.  Last year Carfrae was over four minutes back out of the water, in a group with Heather Wurtele, Caitlin Snow and Linsey Corbin - look for that gap to be at least four minutes this year and likely more.  

All of those girls with lead-pack swim speed can ride a bike, I expect them to work better together than last year, and also expect Ryf to take a flier off the front at some point to gap them into T2.  I can't see Carfrae, Wurtele, Corbin and Snow being able to close the gap on the leaders so that 4+ minute swim gap could easily run out to 10-15 minutes by the end of the bike.

Rinny could run 2:50 and not make the podium.  I predict Ryf holds off the field on the run as she hasn't had to run close to full-out at any race this year (including her world championship in Tremblant), Rachel comes second again and Caroline Steffen rounds out the podium.

Top ten prediction:
1. Daniel Ryf SUI
2. Rachel Joyce GBR
3. Caroline Steffen SUI
4. Mirinda Carfrae AUS
5. Jodie Swallow GBR
6. Liz Blatchford GBR
7. Leanda Cave GBR
8. Mary Beth Ellis USA
9. Meredith Kessler USA
10. Michelle Vesterby DEN

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