Ryf and Hoffman Headline IRONMAN African Championship

Friday 31 March 2017
Our women's and men's pro fields for this year's Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship include incredibly talented athletes with resumes rich with championship victories—from Kona to Africa to Europe to North America. And each field sees numerous top level athletes toeing the line, in an effort to establish themselves with early season victories, valuable KPR points, and a share of the $100,000 on offer for the first of five IRONMAN regional championship races. 

Daniela Ryf is in the midst of a most impressive hot streak. Coupled with the disappointment of an IRONMAN European Championship DNF last year, the dominant Swiss athlete has only tasted defeat once, at the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. She comes to Nelson Mandela Bay as a clear favorite to take the win, and even to factor into the top ten times overall within the men's race. She has no weakness, and proved that with race best bike and run splits in Kona last year, after exiting the water only three seconds out of first. In short, she comes to this race in a class of her own, and her fellow competitors will have to work especially hard to unseat her highness from the thrown. 

On the men's side, last year's champion, Ben Hoffman, returns to Port Elizabeth in an effort to duplicate the success he enjoyed in 2016, highlighted by that win and a fourth-place finish in Kona. His determination over the off season, and focus on this event puts the well-rounded American as a favorite to take home another title.

Ryf comes in strong
Last year's winner, Kaisa Lehtonen is back to defend her title. She is well rounded, has the experience of a top-five Kona finish to her credit (2016), and will face less pressure than Ryf. Last year she was able to break away from her competitors with a sub-5-hour bike, then ran a solid 3:02; if she duplicates that performance, she'll be very near the front all day.
 
Third in 2015 and second in 2016, Britain's Susie Cheetham looks to take one more step up the podium. She's one of the quickest runners in the race, and has been based in South Africa since January. If minimizes time lost on the bike, she is one of the few women who could feasibly run down Ryf.
 
Other contenders include Germany's Julia Gajer, last year's IRONMAN North American champion, and three-time IRONMAN champion, Danielle Mack from the United States. On the right day, these two athletes have what it takes to upset the favorites, and to surprise the world with their blinding speed across the bike and run. 

Hoffman poised to repeat
In the men's race, we’ll see a very competitive front-back dynamic throughout the course of this event—from swim through bike to run. Not unlike the dynamic we see year after year in Kona, I predict that the winner will come from a solid ten-person pack of cyclists who spend much of the 180km riding together. 
 
I expect to see Frederick Van Lierde, Ben Hoffman, Eneko Llanos, Boris Stein, and Nils Frommhold be the main drivers in the multi-athlete pack that exits the water together. Others who will pay the price of the early pace out of the water and onto the bike will include the incredibly talented South African duo of James Cunnama and Kyle Buckingham. Spain's Victor Del Corral, one of the sport's quickest runners, will lose major time across the course of the bike leg, and will be left to chase all day long.
 
Two athletes who are highly capable dark horses in the race are Britain's Joe Skipper and Australia's Josh Amberger. Each athlete has an affinity for racing off the front. Each athlete has the cycling power to deliver and absolutely devastating bike split. The question that remains will be whether or not their run legs will show up to plan against the more balanced approach of Hoffman and Van Lierde. 

Professionals compete for P-4000 KPR points and $150,000 prize purse

MALE PRO:
1 Ben Hoffman UNITED STATES
2 Frederik Van Lierde BELGIUM
3 Nils Frommhold GERMANY
4 Boris Stein GERMANY
6 Kyle Buckingham SOUTH AFRICA
7 James Cunnama SOUTH AFRICA
8 Eneko Llanos SPAIN
9 Victor Manuel Del Corral Morales SPAIN
10 David Mcnamee UNITED KINGDOM
11 Jens Petersen-Bach DENMARK
12 Harry Wiltshire UNITED KINGDOM
13 Johann Ackermann GERMANY
14 Josh Amberger AUSTRALIA
15 Carlos Aznar SPAIN
16 Fredrik Bäckson SWEDEN
17 Vinicius Canhedo BRAZIL
18 Bekim Christensen DENMARK
19 Emanuele Ciotti ITALY
20 Greg Close UNITED STATES
21 Balazs Csoke HUNGARY
22 Gerhard De Bruin SOUTH AFRICA
23 Mario De Elias ARGENTINA
25 Christian Kramer GERMANY
26 Freddy Lampret SOUTH AFRICA
28 Giulio Molinari ITALY
29 Ivan Risti ITALY
30 Deisenhofer Roman GERMANY
31 Michael Ruenz GERMANY
32 Evert Scheltinga NETHERLANDS
33 Drew Scott UNITED STATES
34 Joe Skipper UNITED KINGDOM
35 Erik-Simon Strijk NETHERLANDS
36 Degham Toumy FRANCE
37 Petr Vabrousek CZECH REPUBLIC
38 Jan Van Berkel SWITZERLAND
39 Diego Van Looy BELGIUM
40 Andrej Vistica CROATIA
41 Valentin Zasypkin RUSSIAN FEDERATION
73 Cameron Wurf AUSTRALIA

FEMALE PRO:
42 Kaisa Lehtonen FINLAND
43 Daniela Ryf SWITZERLAND
44 Jodie Cunnama UNITED KINGDOM
45 Susie Cheetham UNITED KINGDOM
46 Julia Gajer GERMANY
47 Astrid Stienen GERMANY
49 Annah Watkinson SOUTH AFRICA
50 Gurutze Frades SPAIN
51 Katharina Grohmann GERMANY
52 Kristin Moeller GERMANY
54 Nikki Bartlett UNITED KINGDOM
55 Rahel Bellinga NETHERLANDS
56 Jeanne Collonge FRANCE
57 Kate Comber UNITED KINGDOM
58 Steph Corker CANADA
59 Camille Deligny FRANCE
60 Dimity-Lee Duke AUSTRALIA
61 Jenny Fletcher CANADA
62 Manon Genêt FRANCE
63 Helena Herrero Gómez SPAIN
64 Kirsty Jahn CANADA
65 Katja Konschak GERMANY
66 Carolin Lehrieder GERMANY
67 Diane Lüthi SWITZERLAND
68 Danielle Mack UNITED STATES
70 Lina-Kristin Schink GERMANY
71 Natascha Schmitt GERMANY
72 Alexandra Tondeur BELGIUM
74 Ari
by Michael Lovato ironman.com


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