Legends Line Up at 2017 Challenge Roth

Friday 07 July 2017
It promises to be an exciting men’s race at DATEV Challenge Roth on 9th July. This year the international men’s field has a number of strong contenders, all capable of taking the win on this prestigious course.

DATEV Challenge Roth 2015 champion, Nils Frommhold returns to the start line with his eye on a repeat performance. The 30-year-old German won the race two years ago with the (at this time) third best time in the triathlon’s history (7:51:28) following a second place in 2014. Both times he did battle with fellow German, Timo Bracht.  In 2016, Frommhold had to make do with third behind Jan Frodeno (GER) and Joe Skipper (GBR). This year, he will face both Bracht and Skipper in a fight for the win. He recently placed second in Ironman South Africa in a tough duel with Ben Hoffman but will still under his eight-hour goal. Once again it promises to be an exciting two or even three-way battle for the win.

To be granted a victory would be the perfect swan song for Timo Bracht (GER) who has been closely linked to the Roth racing tradition since the very beginning of its unparalleled history. At his seventh start in 2014, Bracht finally won the race (after several second and third places) in a time of 7:56:00 and has chosen to make DATEV Challenge Roth his last long distance race. The 41-year-old’s career started in 1993 as one of the "Junge Wilden" (Bracht, Leder, Hellriegel) before turning professional in 1994. He has no less than nine long distance victories to his name, countless top five places, course records and championship titles. A tenth victory is the goal for this exceptionally mentally strong athlete (favourite saying "now or never") and would be a fitting crown for his life’s work.

A man from New Zealand may prove to be Frommhold’s and Bracht’s undoing. Terenzo Bozzone (32) is part of the Bahrain Elite Endurance Team, together with Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf. Over the long distance he took his first victory in December 2016 at Ironman Western Australia with a course record of 7:51:26. In addition, the athlete with two nicknames, "T" and "Flying Kiwi", was 70.3 world champion in 2008 and was runner-up at the ITU Triathlon Long Distance World Championships in 2014.

A sportsman whose successful career has only just begun is Englishman Joe Skipper. The 28-year-old took a surprise second place at DATEV Challenge Roth last year in 7:56:23. Although finishing some way behind Jan Frodeno, he posted a marathon time 26 seconds faster than the world champion. Without doubt, Joe Skipper is a man to watch.

An interesting athlete is another New Zealander, 31-year-old Dougal Allan who is the two-time Challenge Wanaka champion (with new course record of 8:26:38 in 2017) and just a few days ago took second at Challenge Taiwan in 8:11:23. Allan is not a pure triathlete, but also an adventure racer. He has been on the podium several times in various adventure races in Brazil, China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, is the Oceania Multisport champion and takes part in competitions annually in over ten different sports.

From Australia comes 38-year-old Brad Kahlefeldt. In 2006, he won no less than ten major short-distance races, including a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In 2008 and 2012, he represented Australia at the Olympic Games and is a multiple half distance winner.

Strong Germans on the start line
In addition to Timo Bracht, there are three other key names from Germany: Maurice Clavel, Christian Brader and Per Bittner. The 29-year-old Maurice Clavel started his career in 2007 at the Olympic distance and then switched to half distance. In 2014 he won the Allgäu Classic, second place in the Ironman 70.3 in Barcelona. The next career step is his debut over the long distance at DATEV Challenge Roth. In 2015, the 37-year-old Christian Brader finished tenth in Roth and is aiming higher. In addition to several recent runner-up places, the professional triathlete, who trains in Switzerland, also has several Ironman second and third places. Last but not least is Per Bittner. In 2015 he finished fourth in Roth with a personal best time (8:04:29), and in 2016 he was eighth. This year Bittner wants to be in the top five, but he also has another goal. Together with his partner, Yvonne van Vlerken, he wants to set a "couples record" in Roth.

Any sign of competition for Daniela Ryf ?
World champion Daniela Ryf is the clear favourite in this year’s DATEV Challenge Roth women's field. On a perfect day, the two-time and reigning Hawaii winner would be untouchable. She has a new world record of under 8:18:13 hours (Chrissie Wellington, 2011) in her sights. But to achieve this, everything must be perfect. If it is not perfect on 9th July, there is a whole squad of top athletes who are ready to challenge the victory.

Three-times Roth winner, Yvonne van Vlerken also once held the world record time (2008), but then came Chrissie Wellington. Her fourth victory in Roth, scheduled for 2016, she sacrificed to Ryf and had to make do with third place. Nevertheless, the "Flying Dutchwoman" is still one of the greats on the international triathlon circuit with four wins at Challenge Walchsee, two at Challenge Wanaka and no less than seven Ironman victories. Heather Wurtele (CAN) is also in the mix with three 70.3 World Championship podiums, 18 70.3 titles and six Ironman victories and a personal best time over the long distance of 09:16:02. In 2015, she took second in Challenge Dubai - right behind Daniela Ryf. Laura Siddall (36) from the UK is also back on the Roth start line as the "sixth fastest Briton of all time." Last year she took a surprise fourth at Challenge Roth and she may yet surprise again in 2017.
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