The new course in Nice has created intrigue around who will emerge victorious at the 2023 Ironman World Championship. With more climbing and technical elements, the race could favor a different set of athletes compared to past years in Hawaii. Here is a look at the top contenders to be crowned champion on the streets of Nice.
Jan Frodeno - The 3-time Kona champ (2015, 2016, 2019) has confirmed Nice will be his final Ironman before retirement. At age 42, Frodeno still has the ability to conquer the new course thanks to his strength across all three disciplines. His stellar swim should keep him at the front of the pack headed onto the bike. Frodeno has also shown his bike handling skills by winning the brutal World Championship course in Hawaii in 2015. Look for a motivated Frodeno to use his all-around excellence to be in the mix come marathon time.
Lionel Sanders - The Canadian has finished 2nd and 3rd in his past two Kona appearances (2017, 2018). Sanders has the bike power to handle the new ascents and descents, coupled with a 2:32 marathon PR. If he comes off the bike within striking distance of the leaders, Sanders' leg speed could take him to the top of the podium.
Sam Laidlow - The young Frenchman burst onto the scene with a 2nd place at the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona. Laidlow crushed the bike course record en route to his runner-up finish. The hilly Nice bike course suits his strengths. If he can avoid blowing up on the run again, Laidlow could claim France's first-ever Ironman world title.
Patrick Lange - The German won back-to-back Kona titles in 2017 and 2018 with his marathon dominance (2:39:59 course record). Lange will need to limit losses on the new bike course to have a shot. But if he's within striking distance off the bike, his unparalleled run speed could produce historic performances on the flat 4-loop course along the Promenade des Anglais.
Magnus Ditlev - The young Dane has quickly risen up the ranks with his cycling prowess. He set a new course record at Challenge Roth biking 3:56:58 over a similar distance. Ditlev's ability to repeatedly surge and breakaway on the hills could pose problems for the rest of the stacked pro field. His first Ironman World Championship offers a chance for Ditlev to fulfill his lofty potential.
Braden Currie - The Kiwi comes off a 3rd place finish at the special edition 2021 Ironman World Championship race held in St. George last May. Currie has the potential to excel on the Nice course thanks to his excellent swim/bike combo. He has the strength to summit the climbs with the leaders and the downhill bike handling skills to thrive on the twisty descents. If Currie can channel his early season form, he should be in podium contention once again.
Daniel Baekkegard - The young Dane has quickly risen up the pro ranks with top 5 finishes at both the PTO US Pro Championship and PTO Asian Open this season. Baekkegard has demonstrated his well-rounded abilities against the best short course fields. After qualifying for Kona last year, Nice gives him the chance to fulfill his potential against the top long course athletes. Baekkegard is an adept climber who could thrive on the hilly Nice bike course and elevate his name into podium discussions.
The course in Nice seems certain to generate new names in the mix like Ditlev while posing challenges for strong cyclists like Laidlow to avoid blowing up on the run. And veterans like Frodeno and Lange will need to call upon all their experience to master the nuances of the new terrain. The innovative venue means we are guaranteed to witness compelling racing and crown a worthy new world champion.
A full list of professional men’s field listed below*: