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2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Preview: The Men

We look at the strengths, season highlights and more of defending 70.3 world champion Javier Gomez and nine other top competitors.

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At last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, Spain’s Javier Gomez—a four-time ITU world champion—took the world title after little experience competing at the distance. Given that he appears to be in top form, has more 70.3 racing under his belt and will get to defend his title on European soil, it’s hard to bet against Gomez at this Sunday’s race in Zel am See, Austria. That said, a win won’t come easy as he’ll face off against several of the top names in the sport. Here, we look at the strengths, season highlights and more of Gomez and nine other top competitors. Preview the women’s race here.

Javier Gomez (ESP)

Best 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2014)
Racing Kona: No
Notable: 2012 Olympic silver medalist and four-time ITU world champion
Fun fact: On average he spends 200–230 days per year traveling.
Strengths: Exceptionally strong runner, top swimmer; strategic racer
What it’ll take to win: The defending champion will be hard to beat—last year, he was in the lead pack out of the water, stayed with the leaders on the bike and posted a field-leading 1:09 half-marathon to narrowly take the victory over fellow Olympic medalist Jan Frodeno. The versatile athlete, with mostly Olympic-distance, draft-legal experience from the ITU scene, is a solid all-around triathlete, and he punched his ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games a few weeks ago, leaving him free to pursue racing other distances. His only (sort of) weakness would be if he somehow gets dropped on the bike and has a speedy runner, such as Frodeno, ahead of him, but his strategic ITU mind makes that unlikely. However, this may not be his biggest goal of the season as he’ll compete in Chicago on Sept. 18 for the chance at a fifth ITU world title—he’s currently ranked first in the WTS rankings and won last weekend’s WTS Stockholm race.

Jan Frodeno (GER)

Best 70.3 worlds result: 2nd (2014)
Racing Kona: Yes
Notable: Dominated the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt back on July 5, posting a new course record of 7:49:48
Fun fact: Married to fellow 2008 Olympic gold medalist Emma Snowsill
Strengths: An all-around stellar swimmer, biker and runner.
What it’ll take to win: Now in his second full season of long-course racing, “Frodissimo” seems to get better with every event he enters. The pressure on the 2008 Olympic gold medalist’s shoulders ahead of the Ironman World Championship will be huge, so he may be able to take a more relaxed approach heading into the Austria race. Since his big Frankfurt win, he’s been quietly training in Girona, Spain and will have a short trip over to Zell am See. To take the victory, he’ll have to flashback to his short-course days and post a blazing run split to outpace his former ITU rival (and friend) Javier Gomez.

Tim Don (GBR)

Best 70.3 worlds result: 3rd (2014)
Racing Kona: Yes
Notable: This is only Don’s third full year racing the 70.3 distance after a decorated ITU career that included three Olympic Games.
Strengths: Solid across all three, trains at altitude in Boulder and can lay down some fast run splits.
What it’ll take to win: This year, outside of his second place at Ironman 70.3 Boulder, Don has won every 70.3 he’s entered—including the competitive U.S. Pro Championships in St. George. A few key people were missing from that race, though—2014 70.3’s first and second place Javier Gomez and Jan Frodeno. To win in Austria, he’ll need to keep up with the two fastest runners, who out-split him by two and three minutes, respectively, last year during the half marathon.

Sebastian Kienle (GER)

Best 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2012, 2013)
Racing Kona: Yes
Notable: He’s won this championship twice, but he finished 18th in 2014—guess it didn’t matter though, since he dominated the race in Kona a month later.
Fun fact: Mercedes-Benz is one of this sponsors.
Strengths: A no-fear, balls-out ability to ride hard and back it up with a strong run
What it’ll take to win: The Kienle formula: Not losing too much time on the swim, riding his heart out, and getting off the bike with enough of a buffer in front of the past and present ITU guys (Gomez, Frodeno, Don) to get him to the finish.

Michael Raelert (GER)

Best 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2009, 2010)
Racing Kona: No
Notable: Raelert was the first athlete to take two 70.3 world titles in consecutive years until fellow German Sebastian Kienle did the same in 2012 and 2013.
Fun fact: Raelert’s 35th birthday is the day before the race.
Strengths: Increasingly strong as the race goes on, Raelert has often run his way to the top by the end.
What it’ll take to win: Being healthy enough to race at his best. After a knee surgery, bike crash and other injuries forcing him to take off in the last couple years, Raelert is likely hungry to continue a solid streak of 70.3 wins he had in late 2014, and the solid third-place showing he had at Challenge Dubai in February. If he’s on the start line injury-free and ready to fight, he’ll definitely be a threat.

Tim Reed (AUS)

Best 70.3 world result: 5th (2013)
Racing Kona: No
Notable: Decided to take the year away from Ironman racing after finishing 21st at the 2014 Ironman World Championships.
Fun Fact: Told us earlier this year he wants “to be a multiple world champion so I have the money to fund an unsuccessful music career.”
Strengths: Reed excels at the 70.3 distance and consistently posts the fastest run split in the field.
What it’ll take to win: The stellar runner has had success at races with extremely competitive fields—for example, wins at 2014 Ironman 70.3 Vineman and 2015 Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships—but has been unable to put together a complete race against a world championship caliber-field. He is capable of swimming, biking and running with the best athletes at this distance, and it’ll take a complete all-around effort—which he has yet to show at 70.3 worlds—to take the win.

Jesse Thomas (USA)

Best 70.3 worlds result: 12th (2014)
Racing Kona: No
Notable: He’s still the King of Wildflower, with five consecutive titles to his name.
Fun fact: Thomas’ Dimond bike is custom painted with new handprints from his son, Jude.
Strengths: Bike, speedy run
What it’ll take to win: Thomas may not have the résumé of some of the top athletes in this lineup, but he is hyper-focused on this race, and you can’t write him off to be in the mix when he’s 100% (in the last couple years he spent a good chunk dealing with injury ups and downs). Getting as high up as he can in his usual second pack on the swim, riding as strong as he did in Oceanside 70.3 while still being able to turn in one of his solid run splits would be his way into the top of the ranks.

Nils Frommhold (GER)

Best 70.3 worlds result: 5th (2014)
Racing Kona: Yes
Notable: Was victorious at this year’s Challenge Roth, calling it the win of his career.
Fun Fact: Youngest finisher in the top 10 at last year’s Ironman World Championship (he was 28).
Strengths: Front of the pack swimmer and biker
What it’ll take to win: After missing out on the 2012 London Olympic team, Frommhold jumped into the 2012 Ironman Arizona triathlon and quickly showed his capabilities at long-course racing. Though Frommhold hasn’t posted stellar results at the 70.3 distance, his success at iron-distance events coupled with his ITU background make him a quiet threat heading into this weekend’s race. He’ll have to show his all-around strength and find some of that short-course run speed to get on the podium.

Terenzo Bozzone (NZL)

Best 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2008)
Racing Kona: Yes
Notable: Won the high-paying 2015 Challenge Dubai
Fun fact: Was on the “Survivor”-esque show “Celebrity Treasure Island” in 2004.
Strengths: Can win high-pressure races
What it’ll take to win: The former 70.3 world champion has a record of winning big races, but he’s also had several highs and lows throughout his career. He seems to have been on a comeback, since his runner-up finish at the 70.3 world championship in 2013, and this season he pulled off a big win at the half-iron-distance Challenge Dubai in February, taking home a $65,000 check in front of a stacked field. He also showed early-season fitness with his runner-up finish at Ironman New Zealand in March. Since then, Bozzone, who’s on the prestigious Bahrain Endurance 13 team, been on a handful of Ironman 70.3 podiums, but it’s hard to know whether the low-key summer means he’ll have fresh legs for the championship double or if he’s lost some of that early-season fitness.

Kevin Collington (USA)

Best 70.3 worlds result: 6th (2013)
Racing Kona: No
Notable: Podium finishes at 2015 Ironman 70.3 Vineman and 2015 Escape from Alcatraz
Fun fact: Was the 2007 USAT Collegiate National Champion
Strengths: Top swimmer, runs well in the heat
What it’ll take to win: A former ITU racer, Collington has found much more success in long course, with a breakout race at the stacked 2013 Ironman 70.3 St. George, where he finished second and was named Ironman 70.3 U.S. champion. The 70.3 specialist had a strong season, with third-place finishes in pretty deep pro fields at Ironman 70.3 Vineman and Escape from Alcatraz. He won the half-iron-distance Challenge Williamsburg (in hot conditions) and was fifth at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship a few weeks ago. With 70.3 worlds as his “A” race, and if he’s able to get a good position out of the swim onto the bike, he could easily have a top-five result. What won’t play to his favor is that he tends to gain advantages in hot-weather races, and Austria will be much cooler than other venues.

The packed start list features a range of athletes, with Bart Aernouts (BEL), Leon Griffin (AUS), Sam Appleton (AUS), Joe Gambles (AUS), Ruedi Wild (SUI), Andi Boecherer (GER), Ben Collins (USA), Tyler Butterfield (BER) and Andreas Raelert (GER) all capable of taking a podium spot with a stellar race.

2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Start List: Pro Men

1 Javier Gomez ESP
2 Tim Don GBR
3 Tim Reed AUS
4 Jan Frodeno GER
5 Michael Raelert GER
6 Bart Aernouts BEL
7 Leon Griffin AUS
10 Sam Appleton AUS
11 Sebastian Kienle GER
12 Terenzo Bozzone NZL
15 Joe Gambles AUS
16 Nils Frommhold GER
17 Ruedi Wild CHE
19 Jesse Thomas USA
20 Kevin Collington USA
21 Chris Leiferman USA
22 Manuel Kueng SUI
23 Cody Beals CAN
24 Maurice Clavel GER
25 Markus Thomschke GER
26 Andi Boecherer GER
27 Benjamin Collins USA
28 Andreas Dreitz GER
29 Tyler Butterfield BMU
30 Andreas Raelert GER
31 Patrick Lange GER
32 Fabio Carvalho BRA
33 Peter Robertson AUS
35 Alberto Casadei ITA
36 Justin Metzler USA
37 Taylor Reid CAN
38 Jan Van Berkel SUI
39 Paul Reitmayr AUT
40 Sebastian Neef GER
41 Matt Trautman RSA