Ironman Euro-Champs Frankfurt Female Preview

Friday 07 July 2017
Multiple IRONMAN champions toe the line on both women’s and men’s sides at Sunday's Mainova IRONMAN European Championship, as the battle to earn a share of the $150,000, 4000 KPR points and the highly coveted automatic Kona qualification commences. In typical fashion, this race has drawn a host of talented and race-proven athletes. While the battle of the top Germans typically takes center stage in Frankfurt, it’s normal for a few top foreigners to vie for the title.

The women’s race has fewer clear-cut favorites, as the collective female elite have be scattered across the European summer racing calendar, with other proven talents sitting out the 2017 season while on maternity leave.

I predict that Liz Lyles, whose run PR is a smoking 2:59, will be able to eliminate her disadvantage at T2, while running her way to victory—taking her second career IRONMAN regional championship title.

A careful examination of the field shows a few women immediately rising to the top of the list of likely candidates for the win. Included are double IRONMAN champ and 2016 Kona fourth-place finisher Anja Beranek (GER); recent IRONMAN Lanzarote winner, Lucy Charles (GBR), last year’s runner up Katja Konschak (GER); four-time IRONMAN winner (USA) Liz Lyles; and recent IRONMAN Asia-Pacific champion Sarah Crowley (AUS). If Corinne Abraham (GBR) toes the line a week after her second-place finish at IRONMAN Austria, it’s likely she’ll be a contender for at least some of the day before unavoidable fatigue catches her up.

The race will see much more separation from the outset as the women enter Langener Waldsee. The 26-person field will leave much more room between competitors as the women tackle the single lap swim. Their pace will likely be set by the likes of Lucy Charles, but Beranek and Laurel Wassner (USA) should not be too far behind. 

Once on the bike, athletes such as Beranek, Charles, Crowley, and Diana Riesler (GER) will begin to assert their dominance. Riding hard will be a wise tactic, since Liz Lyles has been known to put together devastating bike-run combos en route to each of her four IRONMAN titles. 

Possible threats to the top five will also come from the likes of Dimity-Lee Duke (AUS), Magali Tissyere (CAN), and last year’s fourth-place finisher Natascha Schmitt (GER).  

Coming off her first IRONMAN win only six weeks ago, Lucy Charles will have high confidence she can get it done again, especially knowing the Frankfurt course is dramatically faster than that which she dominated back in May. She will be locked in a head-to-head battle all day long with Beranek, whose primary advantage comes from being buoyed by the local crowds, as German fans will always rally particularly hard for the local heroes.

Beranek and Charles will be focused too closely on one another, and their front-running battles will steal just enough power from their late-day strength. And I predict that Liz Lyles, whose run PR is a smoking 2:59, will be able to eliminate her disadvantage at T2, while running her way to victory—taking her second career IRONMAN regional championship title. 

Lucy Charles will fight valiantly to hold onto second place, after spending much of the day up front. Third place will go to Anja Beranek, who’s hard fought battle will earn her a PR, enough points to qualify for Kona, and the glory of being top German.

Closing out the top five will be Sarah Crowley, who will be carrying just a bit too much fatigue from her victory at the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns, only four weeks ago. Fifth place will go to Natascha Schmitt. 
by Michael Lovato ironman.com


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