Photo of Brad Kahlefeldt courtesy Getty Images
Perfect conditions, a stunning course and one of the deepest men’s pro fields seen at an Australian half distance race delivered an exciting day of racing at the inaugural Challenge Batemans Bay. Victory went to Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Brad Kahlefeldt while Radka Vodickova (CZE) took the women’s title.
The men’s race set the pace for the day with a strong Australian contingent heading in to T1 together and leading out on to the bike with Clayton Fettell with Joshua Amberger, Pete Jacobs, Michael Fox, Brad Kahlefeldt, Sam Douglas and Sam Appleton. Amberger set the early pace until the first chase pack of Jacobs, Kahelfeldt, Fettell and Appleton caught him at the first turn around. From then on it was these five who would lead the race until the late stage of the bike when Amberger decided that he would need a gap heading on to the run with the calibre of runners he was riding with and posted the fastest bike split of the day in 2:13:17.
By the time Amberger headed out of T2 he had established a lead of around 1:30 and was followed by Fettell, Jacobs, Appleton and Kahlefeldt.
However, Kahlefeldt quickly put the pressure on and had overtaken Amberger by the end of the first lap and the race was his, taking victory with the fastest run split of the day in 1:12:17 and a winning time of 3:51:59.
Behind the front two Jacobs was labouring on the run and Appleton was slowly making up time. With 2.5kms to go Appleton passed Jacobs and took the final place on the podium.
Kahlefeldt said he had stepped up a gear for this race. “I had one of the best rides I have ever had in non-drafting. After what I felt was a great swim I managed to hang on to some of the best riders in the game. Some recent changes to my bike setup has seen me wipe around five minutes off my time over this distance. It was exciting to be here to race my first Challenge event and to have my family here to watch was great.”
In the women’s race Vodickova established a commanding lead out of the water motivated by “a fear of sharks. I swam hard to try to catch the guys so that I was not swimming alone! I didn’t and ended up on my own for the whole swim,” she said after the race. Vodickova had a 4:30 lead after the swim and hit the bike course with the belief that she could hold onto it. Behind her though were two determined women. New pro, Jessica Fleming (AUS) and one of the most experienced women on the circuit Belinda Granger (AUS) set about reeling her in. By the time they passed the northern second lap turn for the second time they had caught Vodickova and Fleming led out of T2.
Within a few kilometers Vodickova established her dominance on the run course and took the lead, and eventually the race in 4:28:40, with Fleming in second and Granger in third.
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