The conditions were considerably cooler than last year, but Sebastian Kienle still managed to sizzle in Frankfurt - his 2:44 marathon helped him to run away from countryman Andreas Boecherer, who posted a 2:45 marathon of his own.
July 3, 2016 | NEWS|
Ask Jan Frodeno – there’s no tougher opponent to face in the triathlon world than a motivated Sebastian Kienle, and he proved that once again in taking the 2016 Ironman European Championship crown today.
You can’t knock Andreas Boecherer for trying, though. The aforementioned Jan Frodeno came up with the template to beat Kienle two years ago at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. That day Frodeno wanted to ensure that the weak-swimming Kienle wouldn’t ever work his way to the front of the race, and also hoped to tire out Olympic silver medalist Javier Gomez. The strategy was simple: push the swim to gain as much time as possible. Then, on the bike, ensure the pace was so high that even super-biker Kienle wouldn’t be able to catch up.
The strategy worked. Unfortunately for Frodeno, he wasn’t able to tire Gomez out enough, and lost to the Spaniard over the run. Kienle never caught the leaders on the bike, as he’s used to, and was never a factor in the race.
Here’s where the “motivated Sebastian Kienle” bit comes in. A few weeks later, in Kona, Frodeno didn’t have the confidence to push the same way on the bike in just his second Ironman, and a very motivated Kienle caught the leaders on the Queen K, then rode and ranhis way to the world championship.
A year later Frodeno would take the world title, and also held off Kienle at the 70.3 worlds in Zell am See and here in Frankfurt, too.
Which brings us to 2016. He might not have the weight of being the defending Kona champion on his shoulders, but Kienle’s very much wants to be in that position again. Frodeno chose not to come back to Frankfurt – he’s off to Challenge Roth to try and go after the world’s best time – which left Kienle as the prohibitive favorite this weekend.
Andreas Boecherer had some thoughts about all that, though. The 33-year-old arrived in Frankfurt unbeaten this year and brimming with confidence, especially after his win at Challenge Fuerteventura, which he did thanks to the run.
Boecherer had some company with the “hammer Sebastian on the swim” program for today, including Tim O’Donnell, here in Frankfurt for “the toughest test you can do outside of Kona – race the Germans in Frankfurt,” 2013 Frankfurt champion Eneko Llanos, Bas Diederen, Marko Albert, Johann Ackermann and a few more, who all exited the water as a group around four minutes ahead of Kienle.
Shaking his head as he ran up the hill towards T1, Kienle was all too aware that he would have to fight for the win here today.
O’Donnell’s day started unravelling long before the swim. Earlier that morning he’d run into some bike issues – a broken chain. Then he crashed coming out of transition and suddenly found the group he’d worked so hard to swim with long gone. (After a solo ride he was well back starting the run, but still looked to be running his way towards a fifth place finish before the wheels finally fell off and he had to settle with just getting to the finish line – check out our interview with him here.)
The rest of the group managed to stay clear of Kienle for the first 50 km of the bike and by the end of the ride Kienle was out in front. Well, sort of. He was part of a group of three that included Boecherer and Eneko Llanos. They would come off the bike together, setting up an exciting run.
Llanos appeared to be the most together of the three as they ran out of T2, but he quickly faded and would have to settle for a distant third.
Kienle, as he typically does, started the run hard and fast, quickly opening up a gap on Boecherer. In years past Boecherer might have disappeared from the picture, but this is a very different athlete in 2016. Over the last 10 km he got the gap, which had grown to almost two minutes at one point, down to 30 seconds with 1 km to go. Realizing he wouldn’t catch Kienle, he celebrated his way up the chute, still running a 2:45 marathon, a PB by about 10 minutes.
When Boecherer did get to the line, he found Kienle lying on the ground, completely spent after his huge effort. If Boecherer proved that he’s a very much improved athlete here in Frankfurt, Kienle proved to all that he is a true champion, one who will no-doubt be gunning for another Kona title in October.
His 7:52:43 is a blazing fast time on this course – only Frodeno has gone faster. It’s also a personal best time for the German, faster than his winning time here two years ago.
And, yes, that’s the other thing to remember – the last time he won here in Frankfurt, he went on to win Kona, too
Ironman Frankfurt 2016 | Men
July 3 2016, Frankfurt am Main, Germany