In Ironman 70.3 action this past weekend in Thailand, Italy’s Alberto Casadei led out of the swim, but was caught at 20 km into the bike by the trio of eventual men’s race winner Chris McCormack (AUS), second-place finisher Ruedi Wild (SUI) and Chris Lieto (USA). From then on the four men rode together until Lieto tried to make a break on the final hill with 8 km to go.

The break worked and Lieto came into and out of transition first, but it was all to no avail as he was quickly caught and overtaken by McCormack, Wild and Casadei. The race then turned into a duel between McCormack and Wild, with the younger Wild chasing the veteran and two-time Ironman World Champion. It’s the kind of game McCormack loves and thrives on, but between nine and 14 km McCormack created a sizeable gap.

“It was difficult to get away, the course is wide, but technical and on the back it was pretty windy,” McCormack said. “When the rain came I loved it. I love the rain and hate the heat. It was so heavy coming into transition that I couldn’t see and didn’t realize I was there and ran through in my bike shoes – I haven’t done that before.”

“I am very happy I got away with it today,” McCormack said of his win. “I played a smart race and it paid off, it could have been a completely different race today if the sun had come out earlier.”

McCormack crossed the line in 4:04:40, with Wild just under three minutes back.  Rounding out the professional male podium was Casadei (4:08:06).

In the ladies race, Melissa Hauschildt successfully defended her title, winning in 4:23:30. After a couple of lingering injuries she came back to Laguna Phuket to end the year on a high and did so in style, finishing eighth overall. Radka Vodickova took second in 4:31:46 while another Aussie, Belinda Granger, rounded out the podium in 4:41:53 after toughing it out and holding off a last-minute run surge from Dr. Tamsin Lewis (GBR).