Australia has a strong presence at this weekends Challenge Roth the world’s largest long-course triathlon with 3,100 starters and 607 relay teams. Previous winner Belinda Granger lining up against rival and friend Rebekah Keat. In the mens race Pete Jacobs will be hoping for a return to form after his recent shoulder surgery, and Justin Granger will no doubt put in his usual solid performance. In total there are 37 Australians starting the race.
Belinda and Rebekah will have their work cut out for them as they come up against the seemingly invincible World champion and defending Roth champion Chrissie Wellington. In a pre-race briefing Chrissie says she’ll have her eyes on a fast time but won’t be focusing on breaking the world’s best time of 8:31:59 she set here last year.
“What I want to do is: first, I’d like to win the race and I’ll try to defend my Roth crown; second, to enjoy the race; and third, I want to go as fast as I can.”
Despite the presence of Chrissie, Rebekah Keat will be aiming to improve on her second placing last year, while for Belinda this will be her seventh year of Roth competition. Others to watch include Tereza Macel of the Czech Republic (fourth at the Ironman World Championships last year), as well as up-and-coming German Nicole Woysch.
Like Rebekah Pete Jacobs will be trying to go one better than last years second place, though this is unlikely given this is his first race after his recent injury, he will be up against fellow Australian Chris MacDonald (2009 Challenge Wanaka champion) defending champion Michael Goehner of Germany, German legend and super-cyclist Normann Stadler, a two-time Ironman world champion Denmark’s Rasmus Henning (fifth last year at the Ironman World Championships while racing with a broken hand), Spain’s Enekeo Llanos (twice second at Ironman Germany and the Ironman World Championships), New Zealand’s Richard Ussher, the current Challenge Wanaka champ and a world-class adventure racer,and Belgium’s Rutger Beke, third at the Ironman World Championships in 2008. Firefighter Michi Hoffmann is also on hand to defend his world championship crown.
Stadler, for his part, said he too won’t be aiming at a world-best time, which for the men remains Luc van Lierde’s 7:50:27 set here in 1997: “My personal goal is to deliver the best performance possible. If it’s 8:10 or 7:55, for me the time is not that important.” He’ll be riding a new Scott Plasma 3, currently the time trial bike being used by the Columbia professional cycling squad in the Tour de France.