Sebastian Kienle dominates at Challenge Kraichgau while Julia Gajer edges out Gina Crawford in a close battle to the line

Sebastian Kienle - Challenge Kraichgau 2014Close racing at this weekend’s Challenge Kraichgau saw Julia Gajer and Sebastian Kienle take victory and the German National titles but it was a long, hard day for both

In the women’s race Gajer came out of the water in third place behind Eva Potůčková (POL) and New Zealander Gina Crawford. Crawford set an early lead, which continued throughout the bike and onto the run – where Gaier finally caught her.

What followed next was a heart-stopping show from both athletes as they ran together for 14km, neither giving anything away. It was only in the final few metres that Gaier managed to break away, beating Crawford to the finish line by just 16 seconds in 4:27:35.

“It was for me probably the hardest race I’ve ever contested in the Kraichgau,” said the winner minutes after her victory. “The swim was great, but the running was tough, Gina just did not let up.”

Third place went to defending champion Yvonne van Vlerken (NED).

In the men’s race, 26-year-old Maurice Clavel (GER) had an impressive 40 second lead out of the water but behind him lurked a man who started the race as the clear favorite: Sebastian Kienle.

The 29-year-old left the competition effortlessly behind over the 90km bike, coming into T2 with a six minute lead which he was able to maintain throughout the run, taking the win in 3:53:37.

“I gave full throttle from the start,” said Kienle. ” The great weather and the course were great. I am particularly pleased, as I couldn’t compete at [last year’s] Challenge Kraichgau at the last minute due to illness so I had unfinished business!”

An exciting three-way battle for the other two podium places developed behind Kienle with Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI), Timo Bracht (GER) and Markus Fachbach who spent much time racing head-to-head on the run. In the end it was Schildknecht, who took second, only 12 seconds ahead of Timo Bracht in third.

1 Julia Gajer (GER): (00:25:12 / 02:36:32 / 01:22:56) – 4:27:35
2 Gina Crawford (NZL): (0:24:59 / 2:35:27 / 1:24:14) – 4:27:51
3 Yvonne van Vlerken (NED): (00:30:29 / 02:32:56 / 01:24:15) – 4:30:32
4 Laura Philipp (GER): (00:28:07 / 02:37:00 / 01:24:39) – 4:32:31
5 Astrid Ganzow (GER): (00:28:07 / 02:36:55 / 01:24:31) – 4:32:37

1 Sebastian Kienle (GER): (0:25:24 / 2:10:24 / 1:15:16) – 3:53:37
2 Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI): (00:25:07 / 02:16:48 / 01:15:00) – 3:59:27
3 Timo Bracht (GER): (0:24:49 / 2:16:42 / 1:15:26) – 3:59:39
4 while Markus (GER): (00:24:53 / 02:16:57 / 01:17:00) – 4:01:27
5 Maurice Clavel (GER): (00:24:08 / 02:17:51 / 01:17:32) – 4:01:52