Austrian professional triathlete Michi Weiss started the new season the way he ended it last year: By winning. This time at Ironman 70.3 Campeche where Michi had already finished in 2nd place in 2018 behind Terenzo Bozzone. This year however, the conditions were very tough as Michi explains, “the race was just hard from the first metre to the last. Just a sufferfest all day long.”
Due to a later start time this year of 12:50 the wind and the heat were real factors "The swim, which took place in the marina of the Campeche Country Club in the Gulf of Mexico, was super choppy and then the heat and the wind made both bike and run very challenging," says Weiss looking back. Michi however had strong swim in his Blueseventy PZ4TX exiting the water in 29:11 which was only 3 minutes behind the leading group. Thereafter, he needed to chase down those faster swimmers up ahead, which he did by riding his Diamondback Andean as if he had stolen it! Very quickly he was able to catch and drop fellow favourite Matt Hanson (USA). After that it was just a matter of picking off his competitors one by one including the strong, young Belgian, Pieter Heemeryck and former Kona podium finisher, Ben Hoffman (USA).
Only the 2013 Ironman World Champion, Frederik Van Lierde (BEL), remained ahead by the time they came into T2 even though Michi had produced the days’ fastest bike split of 2:00:26 "I knew that because of the brutal heat, my power, (which averaged 332W for the whole ride) would be 5-10% lower than normal for a 70.3 bike effort but I knew it was still a good split on a day like that," remarked the SRM-sponsored athlete. Even so, the 7-time Ironman winnner was still 2 minutes down on Van Lierde as he exited T2 to start the run. The good thing about the late start time was that there were more spectators on the course giving great support to the athletes as they battled with the conditions. The 21.1km run consisted of 2 loops, each with 2 turning points on the coastal road ("Malecón"), including a loop through the old town on cobblestones. Campeche is a beautiful colonial-style town, complete with fortifications to protect against pirates in days of old. It was a really tough run but at least it was easy on the eye!
Even before the end of the first loop, Michi had managed to overtake Van Lierde and so by the 9km mark he had stamped his authority on the race and was now firmly in the lead. After that Michi was mainly concerned with staying ahead of Pieter Hymmeryck, who had finished 4th in the 70.3 WC in 2018, and so clearly had pedigree. This proved to be less of a problem than Michi had envisaged and so with a finish time of 3:50:02, Michi enjoyed a comfortable lead of 1:27 over the field. 2014 Ironman Hawaii runner-up, Ben Hoffman, came home in 3rd place 2:46 back. Overjoyed and relieved, "Miguel Blanco" celebrated hard with the enthusiastic Mexicans fans, with whom Michi has always had a very special relationship, taking somewhere in the region of a 1000 selfies with them!
Next up it is time for some serious R&R at the El Cozumeleño Beach Resort, where Michi had already prepared a week before the 70.3 Campeche and where he will train for another 8 days to put the the finishing touches to his Ironman form before heading off to South Africa for the Ironman African Championship at Port Elizabeth on April 7th. Although just before heading to the other end of the world, the now 5-time 70.3 champion will make a short stop at his beloved home town of Gumpoldskirchen which will no doubt include one or two "Achterl" at the Heuriger, as well as other culinary delights at ‘Hotel Mama’!
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