Rodolphe (Rudy) Von Berg is back to defend, but will have to contend with superstar Javier Gomez. Holly Lawrence looks for her third 70.3 regional championship and Helle Frederiksen looks for a win after two runner-up finishes at the Ironman European Championship in Elsinore, Denmark.
June 21, 2019 | NEWS|
Gomez highlights men's field
Last year's champion in Elsinore, Rodolphe Von Berg, is back, but won't be considered the race favorite once Javier Gomez rolls into town looking for yet another big title. The Spaniard is somehow combining long- and short-course racing this year, hedging his bets as he goes after another 70.3 world title in Nice while also putting together enough points to ensure he'll be able to race in Tokyo next summer. Gomez won his only other 70.3 race of the year at Ironman 70.3 Geelong, took the ITU Long Distance World Championship in his hometown of Pontevedre in April and finished on the podium at WTS Bermuda (second) and WTS Leeds (third).
Don't count Von Berg out, though - he's coming off a great runner-up finish at The Championship a few weeks ago and a huge win at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah in May. In Samorin he rode a blazing 1:57 bike split and managed to run with Sebastian Kienle for a lot of the way, proving he is in great form and ready for another big race.
The field is, in a word, stacked. Some other names to watch for: last year's runner-up by just 30 seconds, Adam Bowden, who will no-doubt have another of his trademark speedy runs to keep the field honest; Belgian Pieter Heemeryck, who has been on fire this year since turning pro full time in January - he took second at The Championship and won Challenge Geraardsbergen last weekend; Sweden's Patrik Nilsson, who ripped through the Ironman North American Championship in Texas with a big win in April; Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, who was "the first human" at the ITU Long Distance World Championship in Pontevedra (his words in describing his runner-up finish to Gomez); and Ruedi Wild from Switzerland, who is coming off a big win at Challenge Lisboa and a seventh at The Championship.
Lawrence in the hunt for another regional championship
How motivated do you think Helle Frederiksen is this weekend? The Danish star has finished second twice at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship in her home country and is back in search of a spot one step higher on the podium this weekend. Fresh off a big win at Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau earlier this month, the Dane is looking for another big day in front of a home-country crowd after winning the ITU Long Distance World Championship in Fyn, Denmark last year.
Two years ago Frederiksen was coming off an injury and was thrilled with her runner-up finish. Last year she found herself taking on three-time 70.3 world champ Melissa Hauschildt. This year she finds herself up against 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion Holly Lawrence, who has been back to her winning ways since dealing with a number of injuries last year. This year Lawrence has been in great form, taking the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah, the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Viet Nam and finishing second to Daniela Ryf at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. Lawrence would love to add the European title to her North American and Asia-Pacific wins from this season, for sure.
Frederiksen and Lawrence aren't the only women who will be looking for a win on the weekend - Belgium's Alexandra Tondeur who was second to Frederiksen in Kraichgau, won the ITU worlds in Pontevedra. The same day Tondeur and Frederiksen raced each other in Kraichgau, the Czech Republic's Radka Kahlefeldt was second at The Championship in Samorin, Slovakia. Others who will have their eyes on a podium finish include Germany's Maureen Hufe, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Lisa Norden and Frederiksen's countrywoman Maja Stage Nielsen, who finished second at Ironman Lanzarote last month.