Taylor Knibb takes impressive win at Ironman 70.3 World Champs

American Taylor Knibb delivered an incredible performance to take the win at the Ironman World Championship, with four Brits finishing in the top 10

Taylor Knibb wins the Ironman 70.3 World Championship

American ace Taylor Knibb put in an exceptional performance in St George to win the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in a time of 4:03:20.

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Knibb, who recently took second at the PTO US Open, led from early on the bike and held a huge gap to the rest of the field for much of the race.

Canadian Paula Findlay delivered a fantastic performance to take second on a course she won in 2018, while Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne delivered a run masterclass to take the final podium spot.

Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR), defending her title here, battled hard all day to take fourth just three weeks after her silver at the Ironman World Championship in Kona.

It was generally a good day for the Brits, with four women making it into the top 10.

What happened in the swim?

The women’s race gets underway under the cover of darkness at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St George (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman)

Much of the pre-race talk had focused on how cold it would be at the start of the race and, sure enough, as the athletes lined up in their wetsuits and the sun started to peek over the horizon, the pro women were trying to keep warm with towels over their shoulders.

While the 19°C water wasn’t particularly cold, the air temperature was sitting in the low single digits and was expected to create some challenges in the early stages of the bike.

Predictably, Charles-Barclay was straight to the front of the pack as the race began, quickly putting some daylight between herself and a second-placed Knibb.

But it wasn’t long until Knibb, with the help of Lotte Wilms (NED), had bridged that gap, with the latter sitting on Charles-Barclay’s feet for much of the remainder of the swim, and the American just behind.

In fact, as the swim exit grew closer Wilms threatened to take the lead on several occasions and emerged side-by-side with the Brit, with Knibb just a few paces behind.

A chase group including Flora Duffy (BER), Ellie Salthouse (AUS), Pallant-Browne, Findlay, Holly Lawrence (GBR) and India Lee (GBR) emerged roughly 20-30secs back.

What happened on the bike?

Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for Ironman

Charles-Barclay was first out of transition, followed by Lawrence, who’d had a speedy transition to cut the deficit.

Wilms and Knibb took more time in T2, with the latter emerging wearing socks, gloves and a long-sleeve jersey to tackle the cool temperatures.

But the American quickly made up some of her lost time, passing both Duffy and Lawrence and storming past Charles-Barclay to take first place.

And that’s where she stayed throughout the bike, gradually growing the gap to come into T2 with a 6:52 lead.

With Knibb in total control at the front, all the action was taking place among the chase pack, where Charles-Barclay, Duffy, Lee, Findlay and Lawrence were battling for position, regularly trading places.

Further back, Imogen Simmonds (SUI), Nikki Bartlett (GBR) and Pallant-Browne worked hard in an attempt to catch the main chase pack.

At the halfway point Lawrence, who was sat at the back of the chase pack, made a move and attempted to move through the four women ahead of her, working hard to avoid a penalty.

Among the action Lee, who was looking particularly strong on the bike, was given a 5min penalty for not dropping back when passed.

With 14 miles to go Lawrence started to lose time and was unable to bridge the gap this time.

By this point there were four Brits in the top seven, with Bartlett and Pallant-Browne a few minutes behind the main chase pack.

Charles-Barclay, who’d dropped back a little toward the end of the bike, managed to close up that gap and came into T2 with Duffy and Findlay.

What happened on the run?

Paula Findlay reacts to an incredible second-placed finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman)

Knibb came into T2 looking calm and controlled and that showed no signs of changing as she made her way out onto the run.

Findlay, Duffy and Charles-Barclay stuck together for the first half of the run, though were unable to really make a dent in Knibb’s lead, apart from when the American stopped to use a toilet.

It was after the halfway mark that Charles-Barclay began to drop back slightly, though she later rallied to overtake a slowing Duffy.

Meanwhile, Findlay looked the most comfortable of the three chasing athletes and set a great pace in the latter stages to take a well-deserved silver medal.

Further back, Pallant-Browne was on a charge, overtaking Lawrence, Duffy and then Charles-Barclay late on to snatch the final podium spot.

Charles-Barclay came through for fourth soon after and was followed by Duffy (fifth) and Lawrence (sixth) a few minutes later. Bartlett was the next Brit across the line in 8th.

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Top image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman