Jan Frodeno overcame lots of drama on the bike and a fierce challenge on the run from Sebastian Kienle to successfully defend his Ironman European Championship despite scorching conditions.
June 30, 2019 | NEWS|
With files from Frank Wechsel
With the last three Kona winners all set to race each other for German bragging rights, we all knew that the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt was promising to be a barn burner. In the end Jan Frodeno successfully defended his title over Kienle, while two-time Kona defending champion Patrick Lange would struggle with a flat tire and eventually finish 11th.
With the race three and a half months out from Kona the athletes got some Kona acclimatization in Frankfurt as temperatures climbed into the high-30s (Celsius) with lots of humidity, making the day feel a lot more like Kona than it didn’t.
Frodeno would blast out in front during the swim, taking Kiwi Dylan McNeice along for the ride. The two were 50 seconds up on a group led by Christian Kramer and Franz Löschke as they excited the water for the first of the two loops that make up the swim course. In that group were Lange and Kienle – a sign that the 2014 Ironman world champion’s swimming continues to improve.
Drama on the bike
Frodeno quickly blasted out in front on the bike, only to have a scary run in with a motorcycle. Forced to hop over a traffic island, Frodeno went into a bank but somehow managed to keep himself upright, although he lost his nutrition thanks to the mishap.
Then, at the end of the first loop of the two-loop bike course the next bit of drama unfolded as Lange made a stop to change a flat and losing time – at that point he was nine-minutes behind after riding for a while on the flat tire.
Kienle wasn’t spared the drama, either. He cut himself coming out of the water and also had some issues with his rear wheel with a slow leak, but despite all that he caught up to the 2008 Olympic champion before the end of the bike and he and Frodeno hit T2 together. It was there that paramedics removed a piece of glass from Kienle’s ankle, who then gave chase to Frodeno through the four-loop marathon course along the River Main.
By this point the race had become a two-man affair. Philipp Koutny was third into T2, but he was 10 minutes back. Joe Skipper was next in, but would have to pull out shortly after he started the marathon due to back pain. Lange was a half-hour behind his fellow Kona champs.
It looked at the start like Frodeno was going to run away with the title, but then Kienle surged up and caught the defending champ and moved to the front of the race. Frodeno stayed right behind and then counterattacked and was finally able to put his mark on the race. He steadily pulled clear through the last half of the marathon to claim the Ironman European Championship once again.
Kienle hung tough for an impressive runner-up finish, while Franz Löschke moved from seventh off the bike to third.
The extreme heat took its toll on the men as they crossed the line – Frodeno initially looked just fine, then would end up spending quite a few minutes on the ground getting cold water poured on him. Kienle came across the line and immediately put his head in a bucket of water to try and cool down.
3.8 km Swim
185 km Bike
42.2 km Run