Frodeno and Ryf Set Frankfurt on Fire

It was a day for Kona runner-ups, as Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf shattered course records at the IRONMAN European Championship.


Frodeno celebrates first IRONMAN win

When reigning world and European champion Sebastian Kienle (GER) and his training mate Andy Böcherer (GER) bumped fists just moments before the start of the IRONMAN European Championship today, one man watched the scene from a few feet away. It was almost as if he didn’t want to get in between two friends exchanging last-minute good-luck wishes.

Only hours later, in the heart of Frankfurt, that same man—Jan Frodeno of Germany—would accept their congratulations. With a record-setting bike split of 4:08:44, the man known in the sport as a "swim-runner" silenced everyone tempted to joke about the bike clumsiness in 2014 that might have cost him the win. Leaving the memory of a ripped wetsuit and multiple flats far behind him, Frodeno lead the race from start to finish and set a new course record of 7:49:48.

After exiting the water over 4 minutes behind Frodeno, this year it was Kienle’s turn to battle bad luck. After having to re-adjust his goggles on the swim, the defending champion also lost one of his bike bottles around the 18 kilometer mark on the bike. The 112-mile bike was all the Frodeno show; he just kept extending his gap, ultimately pulling into T2 6 minutes ahead of Kienle. Behind the two Germans, Van Lierde, Tyler Butterfield (BER), and Boecherer shuffled positions behind him.

Frodeno set out on the run looking steady and strong as temperatures soared to 38 degrees C (100 degrees F). Eventually however, the 2008 Olympic champion's blazing fast bike ride (4 minutes faster than Kienle's last year at 4:08:43), started to wear on him during the last few kilometers of the run as he chose to walk through aid stations and run on a softer surface next to the sidewalk. Behind him, all over 6 minutes back, Kienle, Boecherer, Butterfield, and Van Lierde would shuffle places.

It was the relative IRONMAN rookie who would get to absorb the full energy of the unique 300-meter long finish line chute and bask in the glory of his first IRONMAN win. Kienle finished second in 8:01:39, with Böcherer third in 8:03:49.

"People tell you to enjoy it, but it's just not possible," Frodeno said at the finish line. "It's just pain all the way. But that's what makes the legacy of IRONMAN. It was brutal out there and my hat goes off to all the age groupers."



Ryf makes a lasting mark

Past champion Caroline Steffen (CHE) led the women from the gun onto the two-lap swim in Lake Langener Waldsee, just outside the city. Michelle Vesterby (DNK), 2014 IRONMAN World Championship runner-up Daniela Ryf (CHE), and Julia Gajer (GER) trailed her by mere seconds, and the four race favorite all exited the water more or less together. A chase pack exited the water over 2 minutes behind the leaders.

Vesterby powered to the front of the field early on the bike with Gajer and Ryf not far behind. Steffen dealt with a brief mechanical, but overcame it and quickly and rode her way back into contention, settling in with Ryf about 50 seconds back of Vesterby and Gajer.

By the 45 kilometer mark near the town of Karben, Ryf had overtaken the race and never looked back. Steffen made a series of solid pushes to threaten, but was never able to make a permanent mark. Gajer rode steady, but Ryf was just too strong, entering T2 with a 7-minute lead. Steffen headed out on the run 10 minutes back, with Vesterby falling entering 14 minutes back.

On the run Ryf settled into a confident stride, swinging her arms and stuffing her hat frequently with ice. The order and distance between the lead women barely shifted over the marathon as the women ticked off four laps around Frankfurt's am Main—the sidewalks lined with suppotive spectators. Thanks to her race-best bike (4:47:51) and top swim and run, Ryf confidently claimed her fourth IRONMAN win in 8:51:00, dismantling Chrissie Wellington's 2008 course record while she was at it. She also finished 11th overall and nabbed an automatic slot to Kona.

Gajer used the strength of her 3:09:04 marathon to claim second (9:01:58) and Steffen rounded out the podium in the busy public square known locally as "the Roemer" in 9:11:55.

"It was just such tough conditions today," Ryf said at the finish line. "To win and have such a good performance makes me happy and also really confident for Kona. I've worked on my nutrition a lot—today was my fourth IRONMAN, and I finally felt like I finally got everything sorted."

Top 10 Pro Men
Frodeno, Jan DEU 1 1 0:46:02 4:08:43 2:50:49 7:49:48
Kienle, Sebastian DEU 2 2 0:50:03 4:11:07 2:56:44 8:01:39
Boecherer, Andy DEU 3 3 0:46:56 4:14:05 2:58:14 8:03:49
Diederen, Bas NLD 4 4 0:48:17 4:18:01 2:54:57 8:05:36
Van Lierde, Frederik BEL 5 5 0:48:11 4:17:42 2:57:30 8:07:09
Raelert, Andreas DEU 6 6 0:49:58 4:24:04 2:52:05 8:09:53
Butterfield, Tyler BMU 7 7 0:48:13 4:18:08 3:15:15 8:26:25
Llanos, Eneko ESP 8 8 0:48:21 4:17:48 3:18:34 8:29:04
Blanchart Tinto, Miquel ESP 9 9 0:48:17 4:45:41 2:54:47 8:32:28
Albert, Marko EST 10 10 0:48:16 4:33:35 3:13:01 8:38:40

Top 10 Pro Women
Ryf, Daniela CHE 1 11 0:52:46 4:47:50 3:06:06 8:51:00
Gajer, Julia DEU 2 13 0:52:47 4:55:22 3:09:04 9:01:58
Steffen, Caroline CHE 3 17 0:52:42 4:58:52 3:16:26 9:11:55
Tajsich, Sonja DEU 4 26 1:03:27 4:56:05 3:15:25 9:19:29
Brennan-Morrey, Ruth USA 5 29 1:06:31 5:04:26 3:04:59 9:21:09
Moeller, Kristin DEU 6 33 1:04:27 5:13:55 3:01:14 9:23:56
Deckers, Tine BEL 7 38 0:58:20 4:58:19 3:27:18 9:28:20
Stienen, Astrid DEU 8 55 0:58:38 5:08:07 3:24:22 9:36:03
Holst, Tine DNK 9 110 1:03:44 5:12:14 3:34:14 9:54:30
Grohmann, Katharina DEU 10 114 1:09:29 5:11:55 3:28:52 9:55:08

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Courtesy: Ironman Asia-Pacific