Timo Bracht chasing an elusive victory this weekend at DATEV Challenge Roth

James Cunnama celebrates victory at last year's Challenge Roth - Photo credit: Getty Images

In the 12th edition of DATEV Challenge Roth on July 14, German professional triathlete and sports scientist Timo Bracht is again seen as the favourite – and will go for the win. Last year, Bracht  had to acknowledge defeat to James Cunnama from South Africa in Roth. Now, the 37-year-old athlete, who finished sixth in Hawaii, is going to have his revenge, and so he definitely wants to reach the place on top of the winner’s podium – because a victory at DATEV Challenge Roth is still missing in his career.

James Cunnama celebrates victory at last year's Challenge Roth - Photo credit: Getty Images

James Cunnama celebrates victory at last year’s Challenge Roth – Photo credit: Getty Images

Cunnama from Port Elizabeth, who is eight years younger than Bracht, and who will have to defend his title in Roth, will not make it easy for Bracht. With his victory at the 11th Challenge Roth in 2012 in just a little less than the magic eight hours (7:59:59 hours) marked his second success in a long-distance race. And there will be a further competitor from the group of Olympic athletes: Dirk Bockel, who was born in Germany but has a Luxembourg passport, and was among the squad of the Olympic Games of Beijing in 2007.

Another brand new Olympic athlete is also going to take part in Roth: 35-year-old Maik Petzold from Bautzen. After his participation in the Olympic Games in London, he wants the Roth long-distance competition to become the highlight of his triathlon career. Dylan McNeice from New Zealand is another athlete who has attracted much attention this year: After his great victory in January at Challenge Wanaka, which was his very first long-distance race, 27-year-old McNeice from Christchurch won a second time this year at the debut of Challenge Taiwan in May.

Cameron Brown from New Zealand could again be among the best athletes as well, after having finished fourth in last year’s Challenge Roth. Konstantin Bachor from Wolfsburg will also be one of the top athletes of the race. In 2011, he was the surprise of the day when he got off his bike ten minutes ahead of the favourites and remained in the lead until half of the marathon was over. In the end, he “only” reached sixth place at that time – but this year everything might be different.

There is another name among the top field of male starters that should be taken note of: Nils Frommhold, who was born in Berlin. In 2012 he was able to add a special triumph to his impressive list of successful races. In his very first long-distance race at Ironman Arizona he won the competition and missed the eight-hour-limit only narrowly. Markus Fachbach, winner of the 2011 Ironman Regensburg and fourth in 2012 IM South Africa, also has good chances of a place among the top ten finishers at Challenge Roth, just like Georg Potrebitsch and Italian athlete Massimo Cigana. And Lothar Leder, the “king of Roth”, who will again return to the place of his biggest success. His fans in Roth will again roll out the red carpet for him.

Top female participants will ensure an exciting race

Although Hawaii winner Leanda Cave and last year’s winner of Challenge Roth Rachel Joyce had to cancel their participation in Roth for health reasons, there will still be a top-class women’s field. For 31-year-old Julia Gajer (pharmacist from Ditzingen) it would be a good time for a victory in Challenge Roth – after a second place in 2011 and a third in 2012, and after she won Half-Challenge Kraichgau last year. After her maternity leave, Sonja Tajsich won Ironman Regensburg and IM South Africa in 2010. The latest success of 37-year-old Tajsich was her fourth place in Ironman Hawaii 2012. After having readjusted her race technique, she already won a medium distance triathlon in Ingolstadt this year.

Joanna Lawn from New Zealand will also come to Roth and is strong enough to reach a top position. Since 2003, she has won Ironman Taupo in New Zealand seven times – with only one interruption in 2009, when she finished second. Yvonne van Vlerken, the “flying Dutchwoman” is going to return to Roth as well. 34-year-old pro athlete Van Vlerken lives in Vorarlberg/Austria. She won Challenge Roth two times in a row (2007 and 2008), and even established a new world record of 8:45:48 in 2008. A few weeks ago she won Challenge Kraichgau.

Swiss athlete Caroline Steffen is going to change from the river Main to the Main-Donau-Canal. Last year’s winner of the Ironman Frankfurt will certainly put up an excellent race in Roth. She has often proved that she is part of the world’s elite – recently with her second place in Ironman Hawaii. And she is expected to be among the top female athletes in Roth with a real chance to win the race. And the fans of the “best old race” may look forward to two special darlings of the Roth public: double Roth winner (2003 and 2004) Nicole Leder will again take part after several years of absence – and of course Belinda Granger, the 2005 Challenge winner from Australia, who is extremely popular in Roth. But this time the fans of the two “grand ladies” will have to say good-bye, because it will be the last Challenge Roth race for both of them.

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