Sebastian Kienle looks back at a great day at Challenge Roth

Sebastian Kienle isn't used to arriving at races as the prohibitive favorite, but he handled the pressure at Challenge Roth in style. A Q and A with the champion after his impressive race.

| July 4, 2018 | PERSONALITY

Sebastian Kienle celebrates a huge win at Challenge Roth.

Sebastian Kienle celebrates a huge win at Challenge Roth.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

TriathlonWorld.com: How much does it mean to you to have won this race?

Sebastian Kienle: It’s difficult to answer. It’s always hard to rate a race – is one race more important than another. But it’s probably the biggest stage in our sport when it comes to the spectators and the atmosphere, so therefore it was crazy. The amount of support the race has – it lives up to the hype. To win the race that I hadn’t been able to win in my first two attempts, and to come back in an even better atmosphere as the winner, was great.

You always seem to be your harshest critic when it comes to evaluating races, but it seemed like you had a great day and nailed all of the things that you’ll need to do in Kona to contend for the win.

Of course there were a lot of positive things and then other things that weren’t perfect. But I have to say that yesterday I was able to not only race with my heart, but also with my head. That was a bit of a different experience for me. I was happy with the position I was in all day. To be able to have the cards in my own hand was a nice experience. That’s not always the case in the races I do. But it was kind a strange feeling. I’ve always been in really competitive races in the past and I’ve had to show 100 percent of what I’m capable of. Yesterday I was able, at one point in the race, to manage the race - to be able to think about how much I wanted to invest, what would be the right amount of effort. The goal was not to completely destroy myself in this race. I’m happy that it worked out, but I’m looking forward to the next race where there will be all the big guns in the race and you have to absolutely kill yourself.

A happy fan gets their picture taken with the champion.

A happy fan gets their picture taken with the champion.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

You came into this race as the prohibitive favorite. What was that like for you? Did you feel more pressure than in other races?

Yes. I have to tip my hat to the guys, especially to Jan (Frodeno), because he’s been in that position for a very long time. To enter pretty much every race where second place is a “bad” race, not what you or everyone else expected. How do you overachieve in a situation like that? You always want to do better than what people think you are capable of and prove to yourself that you’re capable of doing more.

We talked this through with my coach and all my support crew. I was never going to look at time for this race unless I hit the half marathon mark and I was in the range for a world record, but it was pretty clear that this was not in the books. The conditions were really good, and I was in the best possible tactical situation. Having someone like Cameron (Wurf) push the bike all the way and I was never in the lead. It almost looked like he was on the Sebi Kienle team, just dragging me along the bike course. I have to say that riding with him was bloody hard. The temperatures were perfect, but it was really windy. It was a really, really tough bike ride. So when I started the run I knew it was going to be an OK run, but it was not going to be a sub-2:40 day.

The position I was in going into the race (as the favorite) was not my favorite position. I learned to live with it. When everyone expects you to win a race like that, it just shows that the last few years really haven’t been that bad. But it’s a different kind of pressure.

Before you get to take everyone on in Kona you’ll have a chance to check out some of your Kona competition at the Ironman European Championship.

I’m really looking forward to that race. I’m going to commentate for the German TV in Frankfurt. I’m really looking forward to seeing that race from a different perspective. I’m thrilled to see Jan (Frodeno), Patrick (Lange) and Andi (Boecherer) duking it out. It’s going to be a hell of a race. Of course, I will be sitting there and a part of me will be thinking “I would have loved to be in that race, too,” but I’m happy that I chose Roth this year.