James Cunnama took the title at the Embrunman long-distance triathlon on Monday, showing his mastery of the hilly French races following a runner-up finish at Ironman Nice and the win at the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon.

He said, “It was important for me to win Embrun, the toughest in the world before the end of my career. I did not know who was in the lead, so I gave everything on the bike course to join the race lead and tackle the marathon.”

The South African stayed within striking distance of the lead out of the water and on the bike leg. With only two minutes separating him and race leader Etienne Diemunsch off the bike, Cunnama took the lead at 10 kilometers into the marathon and outran the rest of the men’s field. After placing second once and third three times in previous attempts, he finally secured his first victory on this notoriously tough course in 9 hours, 35 minutes, 45 seconds.

Fredrik Croneborg made his second appearance at the race and finished 7th. The Swede said, “I had hoped for just a few places better but still had a great trip and experience and I’m just proud to have finished Embrunman two times now. Happy for my Bahrain Endurance 13 team mate James Cunnama who took the win after several podiums the years before. I predict a good race in Kona for him, watch out! And Embrunman, I will be back.”

Jodie Swallow took the silver at Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden, a race she had picked just to get out of a training weekend. After a classic blistering swim that put her in the lead on the bike, the Ironman Cairns champion hopped off the bike in third place behind eventual champion Melissa Hauschildt. Swallow showed her run legs, chasing down Anja Beranek for a runner-up finish. The Brit said, “I’m really happy with my second place, and I do think Melissa is totally underrated. I have been here in 2012, and it’s good to be back here in Europe.”

Croneborg now flies back home to Thailand to take on the short-distance Tri-League race in Cha-Am this weekend, while Swallow and Cunnama continue their preparations for the Ironman World Championship.