After finishing second twice at The Championship, Sebastian Kienle stormed to the title in Samorin thanks to an amazing run, passing Pieter Heemeryck with just over two kilometers to run his way to the win.
June 2, 2019 | NEWS|
Think about all the things that might have been going through Germany's Sebastian Kienle's mind as he trailed Belgium's Pieter Heemeryck by 45 seconds with just over five kilometers of running to go at The Championship. Two years in a row he'd had epic races with Canadian Lionel Sanders, only to see the Canadian pull away over the closing stages of the half-marathon. Add to that the fact that he ended last season with a hugely disappointing race in Kona, where he'd had to pull out of the race with an Achilles tendon issue.
That race forced Kienle to re-evaluate where he was at. He finally had to admit that he needed a break after years of fighting Achilles issues. He also decided it was time for a new approach, so he switched coaches.
Another second at The Championship? That wouldn't have sat well with the man who won in Kona in 2014 and has two 70.3 world titles to his name, too.
The day hadn't started well for Kienle - he found himself well behind American Ben Kanute after the swim. While Kienle rode well (he would post a 1:56 bike split), a number of others were riding extremely well, too. Heemeryck charged ahead on the bike and pulled clear of the rest of the men to lead into T2. Instead of riding through the field, Kienle found himself entering T2 still chasing Heemeryck, countryman Florian Angert, who was 36 seconds behind the Belgian, Maurice Clavel (GER) who was at 1:03, along with Rudy Von Berg (USA) and Andreas Dreitz (GER), who were 1:15 down. (Dreitz ripped through a 1:54 bike split - how often do you hear Sebastian Kienle say that he couldn't believe how fast someone passed him on the bike?)
Which meant that the man renowned for being amongst the leaders into T2 was suddenly chasing hard with a gap of almost two minutes to Heemeryck.
Once out on the run, though, it quickly became apparent that this was a different Kienle we were seeing - always a strong runner, his run appeared to be at a different level. He quickly moved through the field and found himself in a duel with Von Berg as the pair moved from fourth and fifth to second and third behind Heemeryck after they passed Angert and Clavel. The two kept gaining time on the Belgian leader, but it seemed like it wasn't going to be quite enough. When Von Berg pulled ahead of Kienle just over half-way through the run it looked like the German's charge for the win might have stalled, but Kienle stayed just a few seconds behind the American.
Then, with five km to go, Kienle made his move. He quickly pulled away from Von Berg and the gap to Heemercyk shrunk dramatically. Just 100 m before the 19 km point of the run Kienle flew past Heemeryck and continued his charge to the line, finishing the day with a 1:11 half-marathon split. Heemeryck hung on for second, with Von Berg rounding out the podium.
The Championship 2019 | Men
June 2, 2019 | Samorin, Slovakia
1.9 km Swim
90 km Bike
21.1 km Run
Rodolphe Von Berg