Filipe Azevedo (foreground) let’s it all hang out in the final strides to the finish. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Filipe Azevedo (foreground) let’s it all hang out in the final strides to the finish. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

DAVAO CITY—Raring to put a bland year behind, Filipe Azevedo raced with sustained brilliance on Sunday morning to rule the men’s pro division of the Alveo Ironman 70.3 here and qualify for the World Championship later this year.

Now based in Dubai, the Portuguese bet used his familiarity with the heat and humidity and, coupled with a strong showing in the bike leg, pulled away from Tuan Chun Chang of Taiwan to win convincingly in three hours, 51 minutes and eight seconds for the gold medal.

“I didn’t do any podium last year, but this year, back in Asia, I wanted to get the win here—and especially get the qualification for the World Championship, which is my main goal,” he said shortly after the race at Azuela Cove.

“I did a smart race, I believe,” he went on. “I swam onto the front, controlling. On the bike, I did a good effort to get space [going into the] run because I knew the guy who finished second was a strong runner and I want to have some space.”

That “guy” was Serbian Ognjen Stojanović, who salvaged runner-up honors with a time of 3:52:29 by running Chang to the ground in the 21-kilometer run stage. The Taiwanese clocked 3:57:13.

“I live in the [United Arab Emirates] where it’s basically always very hot. It’s similar here, but the sun here burns a lot more,” Azevedo said with a chuckle.

Sarah Crowley of Australia ruled the ladies side in 4:20:15, beating American Lauren Brandon (4:22:49) and Lottie Lucas of the United Arab Emirates (4:25:09). She and Azevedo pocketed $30,000 each. INQ

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