Billard puts the hammer down – Bilham reigns on the run

Tuesday 16 May 2017
Bertrand Billard (FRA) really put the hammer down at the scenic bike course which led the field through the heart of Provence. The race was still at an early stage, when the 2016 champ attacked aggressively on the bike. Billard came out of the water in third place, and he didn’t want to wait for anyone after winning in Aix the year before in a no-swim race. He stormed onto the bike course and made the strong pro field suffer soon on the challenging route. On the first third of the course, Billard put 3:30 minutes on his pursuers and spent the rest of the day hammering at the front.

Billard went off and away, and he had an advantage of almost seven minutes, when he started the run. Obviously, there were no reasons to worry about for the strong runner. Billard looked strong and comfortable, but after the first of three run laps he slowed down a bit – and remarkably on the final five kilometers of the race.

The defending champion felt as the upcoming winner, until he hit the final carpet and way to the finish line. The 29-year-old French was already cheering with the fans, when he heard bad news. His fellow countryman Denis Chevrot came off the bike far behind Billard in runner-up position, but he moved through the challenging run course like a Blizzard. Chevrot almost managed a sub 1:10 run split on this tough course and he tried his best to outsprint Billard on the final meters. The defending champ crossed the line with a lead of one second, there was no time left for celebrations.

Emma Bilham (SUI) and Maria Czesnik (POL) had a back-and-forth competition, which highlighted the women’s race. Bilham led after the swim, before Czesnik and as well Natalie Seymour (GBR) tried hard to open up a gap at about 50 kilometers of the bike. The lead changed a couple of times, but Bilham was just too strong on the run to struggle. 

Top 5 Pro Men
1 Billard, Bertrand FRA 0:22:59…2:10:55…1:16:38…3:55:18
2 Chevrot, Denis FRA 0:23:00…2:17:41…1:10:02…3:55:19
3 Van Lierde, Frederik BEL 0:23:49…2:17:44…1:13:02…3:59:39
4 Maurel, Kevin FRA 0:24:41…2:16:01…1:14:50…4:00:16
5 Herbst, Markus DEU 0:24:45…2:15:50…1:15:25…4:00:50

Top 5 Pro Women
1 Bilham, Emma CHE 0:26:05…2:36:34…1:21:52…4:29:36
2 Czesnik, Maria POL 0:26:09…2:35:19…1:24:37…4:31:40
3 Seymour, Natalie GBR 0:27:48…2:35:34…1:25:09…4:34:03
4 Lundstrom, Asa SWE 0:28:30…2:35:26…1:25:22…4:35:20
5 Genêt, Manon FRA 0:27:25…2:37:12…1:26:17…4:37:20
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