Ironman Frankfurt, the European Ironman Championship, takes place this forthcoming weekend in Frankfurt-Sparkasse, Germany. The second of three regional Ironman championships and one of Europe’s biggest Iron-distance events, Frankfurt will offer 4000 KPR points for the victor and a total price purse of US$125,000. As a result, some 95 professionals -including a number of Kona contenders- will be toeing the line, eager to take home a good paycheck and valuable KPR points ahead of the first round of selections.
The men’s race is shaping up to be an absolute corker. Australian Pete Jacobs, the 2012 Ironman World Champion, will be looking for a solid race he moves into the business-end of the season.
Jacobs has been very busy since winning the World Title in October, with a number of appearances and media commitments added to his schedule. In his return to racing, Jacobs placed 8th at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and 4th at Ironman 70.3 Cairns. Once again, Jacobs is positive and is again embracing the love which fueled his Hawaiian victory.
After taking ninth in his first crack in Kona, 2012 Ironman Cairns champion Dave Dellow will be a strong contender. He is coming in under the radar a little and will use that to his advantage. A former ITU athlete with speed to burn, Dellow is capable of a very fast swim and has shown he has the strength to run a very solid marathon after taking our Ironman Cairns with a closing 2:48 marathon. Sitting at 45th on the KPR, Dellow will undoubtedly be looking to make up for a slow start to the year after a minor hip injury, and nail a good performance to see him through to the start line in Hawaii for another crack.
Another fast young Aussie, Chris Kemp, has taken time out from his paper-route to make his first Ironman start. Kempy, as he is affectionately known, had a stellar Australian season which included wins at the Asia-Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championships in Auckland, and the Geelong Long-Course against a world-class field.
The European charge will be lead by defending champion Marino Vanhoenacker, who claimed the 2012 title in 8:03 after riding away from Ã¼ber-cyclist Sebastien Kienle. We can expect these two powerhouse riders to try and break away from the rest of the field on the bike, as they did here twelve months ago and repeated in Kona last October. Pete Jacobs, however, won’t be so easily shaken. In winning the World Championship he came into T2 in second position after a dominating bike ride, showing he’s got more than a single card in his hand.
Spaniard Eneko Llanos will also be hungry for another big win after taking out Vanhoenacker and Craig Alexander in tough conditions earlier this year at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne, and the second-place behind Freddy Van Lierd at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon in February. Also flying the Spanish flag will be former ITU superstar and professional cyclist Ivan Rana who won on debut in emphatic fashion at Ironman Cozumel in November 2012 against a strong field.
The darkhorse will be former Ironman 70.3 World Champion Michael Raelert. Raelert has struggled over the 226km distance, and will look to emulate older brother Andreas after his win in Austria last weekend.
With defending champion Caroline ‘Xena’ Steffen not racing, the women’s title will be in new hands come Sunday.
Albury-native Rebekah Keat was set to race in Frankfurt, but as Trizone has reported, Keat has suffered an inflamed tendon and won’t be on the start line this Sunday. After a strong second placing on a tough day in Busso back in December, Keat has been working hard in Boulder, Colarado, with coach Siri Lindley since April to be strong for the latter part of the season. After 13th place at the 2012 Ironman World Championships and 2nd in Bussleton, Keat may have enough KPR points to see her through qualification. We’ll hopefully soon see Keat back in the form which made her one of the fastest-ever women over the Iron-distance.
With Keat’s withdrawal, Kristy Hallett will be the sole Australian in the women’s field. Hallett finished 16th at Ironman Melbourne earlier this year, in her debut Ironman as a professional. Hallett has had some good results including a podium at Yeppoon 70.3 in 2012, and sixth place at both Port Mac 70.3 and Cairns 70.3.Looking to keep the title on European soil will be a number of class athletes, including 2012 runner-up Anja Beranek and former Ironman 70.3 World Champion Jodie Swallow who will be looking to go one up on her Ironman South Africa second-place. Swallow has the skill set to challenge for the win, and has likely learned a lot since her debut in South Africa. There are a number of other Ironman title holders in the field including the likes of Camilla Pedersen, Liz Lyles, Kristin Moller and Sofie Goos who will all be hungry for a big performance.
All-in-all, the women’s race promises to be close and fast “one of the best of the year.