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Germany’s Jan Frodeno and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf earned the Ironman European Championship titles today in Frankfurt, Germany by outlasting hot conditions and an extremely competitive professional field. Despite the 100 degrees F heat, Frodeno and Ryf—who are both members of the newly-formed Bahrain Endurance 13 team—powered through the swim, bike and run to establish impressive new course records. Frodeno and Ryf finished on the Kona podium last year and, with these wins, will both be considered top contenders as they each pursue their first Ironman world titles this October. In addition to the automatic Kona spots handed out to each winner, professionals were also competing for their share of $150,000 and coveted KPR points.
It was the 2.4-mile swim that set the tone for a strong day for Frodeno. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist exited the water in 46:02, with only fellow German Andi Boecherer (46:56) exiting within a minute of the eventual race winner. 2013 Ironman world champion Frederik Van Lierde (2 minutes back) and 2014 Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle (4 minutes back) started the bike with some work to do.
Frodeno rode strong out front and it initially looked like Kienle—who is known for his cycling abilities—would catch him before the end of the 112-mile ride. At the 60K mark, the gap from Frodeno to Kienle had shrunk down to 1:16. From about that point in the race, it went the other way as Frodeno pushed the pace on his way to a blistering course record 4:08:43 bike split. By the time bike turned to run, Frodeno’s lead was a solid 6 minutes over Kienle and Boecherer, and 11 over Van Lierde, Eneko Llanos (ESP), Tyler Butterfield (ESP) and Bas Diederen (NED).
Frodeno capped off his wire-to-wire win with a 2:50:49 marathon, putting him across the finish line in 7:49:48 and besting Kienle’s 2014 course record of 7:55:14 by more than 5 minutes. Kienle was solid in second, posting a 2:56:44 marathon to cross the line in 8:01:39. Boecherer rounded out the championship podium in 8:03:49. Diederen ran his way to fourth at 8:05:36, with Van Lierde claiming fifth in 8:07:09.
Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen established a slim early lead, exiting the water in 52:42, with Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby (52:45), Ryf (52:46) and Germany’s Julia Gajer (52:47) all following close behind. Steffen started the ride out front, but was quickly forced to the side of the road to deal with a mechanical on the bike. Ryf also lost some time very early, as she stumbled while trying to mount her bike out of T1.
Vesterby inherited the lead, with Gajer chasing close behind. Once Steffen and Ryf got settled from their mishaps, they were able to bridge the gap up to the leaders. As Vesterby fell off of the pace, Gajer, Ryf and Steffen rode neck and neck through much of the first half of the bike. With about 40 miles left in the ride, Ryf decided to make a move. The three-women race quickly became all about Ryf as she used a 4:47:50 bike split to power her way to a sizable lead to start the run. Gajer was next into T2 (7:38 back), with Steffen (10 minutes back) and Vesterby (14 minutes back) following. Ryf maintained her lead throughout the marathon, posting a 3:06:06 marathon to best Chrissie Wellington’s 2008 course record (8:51:24) and take the win in 8:51:00. Gajer was impressive in front of her home crowd, crossing the finish line second in 9:01:58. Steffen rounded out the top three in 9:11:55. Germany’s Sonja Tajsich was fourth, with American Ruth Brennan-Morrey posting a fast 3:04:59 marathon to run her way to fifth.
Ironman European Championships
Frankfurt, Germany – July 5, 2015
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 7:49:48
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:01:39
3. Andi Boecherer (GER) 8:03:49
4. Bas Diederen (NED) 8:05:36
5. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:07:09
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 8:51:00
2. Julia Gajer (GER) 9:01:58
3. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:11:55
4. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:19:29
5. Ruth Brennan-Morrey (USA) 9:21:09