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2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Preview

We look at who poses the biggest threat in a stacked field of triathletes all targeting the half-Ironman world title.

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An insider’s look at who poses the biggest threat in a stacked field of triathletes all targeting the half-Ironman world title.

Melissa Hauschildt (AUS)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2011, 2013)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Wins at Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, Challenge Philippines, Ironman Australia, Ironman 70.3 Racine and Ironman 70.3 Timberman
Strengths: Strong running background, which has easily transferred to multisport—at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Vineman, she ran a 1:16:28 half-marathon.
Weaknesses: The swim and a history of struggling with injury
X-factor: As a two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion, Hauschildt has proven she can perform under pressure.

Heather Wurtele (CAN)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Sixth (2012)
Bike: Cervélo P5
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, Ironman 70.3 California and Ironman 70.3 Eagleman; third place at Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship
Strengths: A strong cyclist who has improved her running ability over the past two years
Weaknesses: She has struggled to perform in the big races late in the season.
X-factor: A veteran at racing the half-Ironman distance, she’s able to come on strong at the end of races.

Daniela Ryf (SUI)

Bike: Felt IA FRD
Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 European Championships; win at 5i50 European Championship followed by win the next day at Ironman Switzerland; win at Ironman Copenhagen
Strengths: The bike—Ryf will be out with the front pack on the swim and can hold her own on a rolling bike course. She’s likely to ride to the lead and could maintain it through the run.
Weaknesses: She’s still pretty green to the 70.3 distance and this will be her first go against a really stacked field.
X-factor: Ryf has flown under the radar in the States because she’s been training with Brett Sutton and racing in Europe—plus she’s new to the long course distances—so she’s going into Mont-Tremblant without fear or a lot of outside pressure.

Heather Jackson (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Second (2013)
Bike: Cannondale Slice
Season highlights: Third-straight Wildflower Long Course win; second at Ironman 70.3 California; fourth at Ironman 70.3 Panama
Strengths: A strong cyclist and runner
Weaknesses: The swim, and injury has forced her to adjust her racing schedule. She hasn’t competed since her Wildflower win in May.
X-factor: She’s got an impressive streak in her favor: Since she first raced 70.3 worlds, she’s climbed a spot every year—from fifth (2010), fourth (2011), third (2012) to second (2013).

Annabel Luxford (AUS)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Third (2013)
Bike: Scott Plasma
Season highlights: Win at Challenge Half Melbourne; second at Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, Challenge Half Philippines and Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship
Strengths: Strong across all three disciplines
Weaknesses: She has considerably less 70.3 experience than the other top women, and a bike accident in early May interrupted her momentum.
X-factor: Luxford has the high-pressure experience of ITU racing to couple with her recent success in long-course racing, proving that if healthy, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Radka Vodickova (CZE)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Culprit Bullet
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 St. Croix, Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya, Challenge Bateman’s Bay and Rev3 Knoxville
Strengths: The swim and run
Weaknesses: The bike—Vodickova lost her five-minute lead during the bike leg at Challenge Bateman’s Bay, only to regain her lead during the run.
X-factor: She competed in the 2012 Olympics and has been an ITU triathlete since 2003, so although she’s a newbie to long-course racing, she’s shown early promise.

Angela Naeth (CAN)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Seventh (2010)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Panama, Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii; second at Ironman Melbourne
Strengths: The bike—Naeth is known for her power on the bike, repeatedly posting the fastest splits at races.
Weaknesses: The run—Naeth is continuing to work on her running base and foundation for a strong run leg comparable to that of her bike.
X-factor: If Naeth can pair her developing run speed with her prowess on the bike, she is a fierce contender for the world championship.

Jodie Swallow (GBR)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2010)
Bike: Scott Plasma
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 South Africa and Ironman 70.3 Boulder; second at Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship; third at Ironman South Africa; third at Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championships
Strengths: The swim and run—Swallow was a swimmer and runner before she was a triathlete and is known to be among the first out of the water.
Weaknesses: She has been inconsistent in championship races since her Clearwater win in 2010.
X-factor: Confidence—Swallow recently began working with Siri Lindley in Boulder, Colo., and is racing more aggressively (as evidenced by her head-to-head battle with Rachel Joyce at Ironman 70.3 Boulder) and reaping the rewards of her renewed confidence.

Meredith Kessler (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 23rd (2012)
Bike: Boardman Air TT 9.8
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman New Zealand, Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship and Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant; third at Ironman 70.3 California
Strengths: She’s an all-rounder: Kessler always comes out of the water in the front pack, leads for most of the bike and can throw down the running hammer out of T2.
Weaknesses: Kessler continues to develop her run, targeting top-end run speed off the bike to keep pace with the likes of Hauschildt and the ITU speedsters.
X-factor: Kessler is an emotionally resilient athlete suited to tough courses like Mont-Tremblant.

Helle Frederiksen (DEN)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: BMC TM01
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 San Juan, Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championships; second at Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, Ironman 70.3 Racine, St. Anthony’s Triathlon and Life Time Tri South Beach
Strengths: The bike leg and her quick turnover on the run, thanks to years of ITU racing for Denmark.
Weaknesses: Frederiksen has struggled to stay injury-free when competing at the 70.3 distance.
X-Factor: She’s spent most of her year focused on the non-drafting, short-course circuit and will have fresher legs than many.

Catriona Morrison (SCO)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Fourth (2013)
Bike: BH Aerolight
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship, second at Ironman 70.3 Panama and Ironman 70.3 St. Croix
Strengths: The run—now that Morrison has fully healed and treated an Achilles injury, she is able to get consistent run training in, and it shows.
Weaknesses: The swim—Morrison’s swim is not nearly as strong as her bike/run force.
X-factor: After an 18-month break from the sport, Morrison’s 2013 season was a transition back to racing and training; her 2014 season, however, has shown that she has a renewed drive to compete.

Mary Beth Ellis (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 2nd (2008 and 2009)
Bike:
Cervélo P5
Season highlights: Second at Ironman Melbourne, fourth at Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championships
Strengths: Resilience—Ellis remained undefeated throughout the 2013 season until she broke her collar bone in a bike crash, and then fought back to compete in Kona just weeks later.
Weaknesses: Ellis has struggled to find the form she had when she suffered that 2013 bike crash.
X-factor: The bike—Ellis is a force to be reckoned with across the board, owning the American record for the Ironman distance (until Linsey Corbin broke it this year in Austria), but she is especially strong on the bike.

Magali Tisseyre (CAN)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 3rd (2009 and 2010)
Bike: Argon 18 E-118
Season highlights: Win at Lavaman Walkoloa Olympic; fourth at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant
Strengths: The bike—”Mighty Magali” is known to dominate the bike leg, often riding the fastest bike splits of the day.
Weaknesses: Running—after a rough 2013 (due to injury) with little run work, Tisseyre may have to depend more on her bike strength for podium contention. She also may not be fully recovered from the injury, as she posted a DNF at 70.3 Muncie and a DNS at 70.3 Racine in July.
X-factor: A native of Montreal, Tisseyre will have the extra motivation of racing in front of her home crowd.

Melanie McQuaid (CAN)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 12th (2010)
Bike: Trek Speed Concept 9 Series
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Boise and 70.3 Lake Stevens
Strengths: The bike—the three-time XTERRA world champion is a powerhouse on the bike and, combined with her strong swim, is usually the first into T2.
Weaknesses: The run—McQuaid usually builds a big enough lead on the bike and then has to hold on through the run to beat more fleet-footed women.
X-factor: The experienced world champ is fiercely competitive and thrives in cooler-weather races.

Rebeccah Wassner (USA)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Cervélo P3
Season highlights: Second at Ironman 70.3 Haugesund; third at Rev3 Knoxville
Strengths: The swim and run—Wassner frequently posts some of the top swim and run splits.
Weaknesses: The bike—if Wassner can get her bike times as competitive as her swim and run times, she’ll be in the mix for podium contention.
X-factor: Wassner’s experience in the Olympic-distance non-draft format gives her top-end speed on the run that 70.3 specialists don’t currently have.

Laura Bennett (USA)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: DNF (2013)
Bike: Trek Speed Concept
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh; second at Ironman Boulder
Strengths: The seasoned ITU vet will still be one of the first out of the water.
Weaknesses: Her bike isn’t as strong as many of the other contenders.
X-factor: Never count out the two-time Olympian, who may have built even more strength while training for her first Ironman.

VOTE: Tell us which female you think will win the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship

See the complete start list.

Looking for the men’s preview? Read it here.

Sebastian Kienle (GER)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2012 and 2013)
Bike: Scott Plasma Premium
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman European Championship Frankfurt and Challenge Kraichgau; third at Ironman 70.3 California
Strengths: Kienle is an übercyclist, who can back up his fast rides with impressive run splits.
Weaknesses: Kienle often comes out of the water minutes behind the leader, forcing him to work harder on the bike to close the gap.
X-factor: As the defending two-time champ (and Kona podium finisher), Kienle knows how to schedule his season so that he performs best at the fall championship races.

Jan Frodeno (GER)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: DNF (2013)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship, Ironman 70.3 California and Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship; third at Ironman European Championships
Strength: The run—Frodeno ran a blazing 1:09:12 half-marathon at the Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship, finishing nearly six minutes faster than the second-place finisher.
Weaknesses: If he has one, it’s lack of years racing the half-Ironman distance compared to others in the field. He’s had nutrition issues (2013 70.3 Worlds and Ironman Frankfurt) that are unique to longer races.
X-factor: When he races, he wins. He hasn’t lost a 70.3 he’s entered in 2014.

Tim Reed (AUS)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Fifth (2013)
Bike: Felt IA
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs; second at Ironman 70.3 Geelong, Ironman 70.3 Cairns, Huskisson Long Course Triathlon
Strengths: The run—Reed is strong on the run, often running the fastest split of the day.
Weaknesses: A season of chasing points toward Kona qualification means that Reed is unlikely to be fresh on the Mont-Tremblant start line.
X-factor: Bike-run combo—Reed’s 2013 results are filled with race-best rides and runs, even in the same race, making him a threat once out of the water.

Terenzo Bozzone (NZL)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Champion (2008)
Bike: Argon 18 E-118
Season highlights: Third at Ironman New Zealand and Ironman 70.3 Auckland
Strengths: Bozzone is strong across all three disciplines.
Weaknesses: He has struggled to show up to the big races injury-free and race-ready.
X-factor: He’s been here before: Bozzone finished second in last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship and won the 2013 Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, so he has already tasted victory on this course.

Joe Gambles (AUS)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Third (2013)
Bike: Trek Speed Concept 9 Series
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 Boulder; fourth at Ironman 70.3 California and Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship
Strengths: Gambles is a strong cyclist and often rides race-best splits.
Weaknesses: He’s never quite crossed the threshold to the very top tier. He’s strong at the swim, bike and run, but hasn’t put together that world-class-field-topping race.
X-factor: Bike-to-run combo—“Smokin Joe” can run fast and fierce after a hard ride, making him a strong contender for the win.

Will Clarke (GBR)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 10th (2013)
Bike: BMC TM01
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 UK; second at Ironman 70.3 South Africa, Ironman 70.3 San Juan and Ironman 70.3 Barcelona
Strengths: The run—Clarke ran his way onto the podium in all but one of his races this season.
Weaknesses: The bike—Clarke has a foundation in draft-legal racing and is still mastering the non-draft racing style in Ironman 70.3.
X-factor: ITU speed—after missing contention for the 2012 Olympics, Clarke turned to non-draft racing with speed and a vengeance.

Tim Don (GBR)

Top 70.3 worlds result: DNF (2013)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, Ironman 70.3 Brazil and Rev3 Knoxville; second at Ironman 70.3 Boulder
Strengths: Originally a pure runner, Don is able to hold his own on the run course.
Weaknesses: Don hasn’t proven he can hang with the pack during a tough ride.
X-factor: With just two seasons of long-course racing under his belt, Don has the speed and stamina of ITU and short-course racing to couple with his growing volume and knowledge of the 70.3 scene.

Kevin Collington (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Sixth (2013)
Bike: BMC TM01
Season highlights: Third at Rev3 Knoxville
Strengths: Consistency—Collington has proven to have equal strengths across the three disciplines.
Weaknesses: A late start—Collington took a little longer to get into full fitness this year, as he didn’t race for six months due to a broken ankle last October.
X-factor: ITU speed—Collington has a foundation in the fast-paced ITU style of racing.

Brent McMahon (CAN)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 26th (2013)
Bike: In sponsor negotiations
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and Ironman 70.3 Boise; second at Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship
Strengths: Consistency—McMahon is strong across all three disciplines, making him a viable contender.
Weaknesses: Getting used to long-course racing has presented some issues with race-day nutrition, although he seems to be getting his plan dialed.
X-factor: After keeping his focus on ITU racing and the Olympics, McMahon has transitioned to 70.3 racing well, bringing his speed and ability to pace himself to multiple podium finishes this year, including in competitive pro fields (e.g., Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championship).

Jesse Thomas (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 20th (2012)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Fourth-straight win at Wildflower Long Course Triathlon; win at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant; second at Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs
Strengths: A former collegiate steeplechaser, Thomas has hunt down many athletes on the run.
Weaknesses: The swim
X-factor: Mental and physical fitness—after a year off from racing due to foot surgery, Thomas has returned to the racing scene hungrier and fitter than ever. He has also won a race on the same course as the world championship, showing that he’s fit and ready.

Javier Gomez (ESP)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: 2014 ITU world champion; ITU World Triathlon Series wins in Auckland, Chicago, Yokohama and Cape Town; win at Ironman 70.3 Panama
Strengths: Versatility—across all three disciplines as well as race formats: Gomez is an ITU world champion and Olympic silver medalist, but has also won two half-iron-distance races and Escape From Alcatraz.
Weaknesses: If anything, maybe his endurance—Gomez has been racing fast and frequently at the Olympic distance this year.
X-factor: Gomez is used to heated battles to the finish line, so if the race is close, he knows how to close in on the competition.

Matt Chrabot (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Felt DA
Season highlights: Fourth at Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship; Win at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
Strengths: Chrabot is well-rounded across swim, bike and run and is capable of being in the front to the finish.
Weaknesses: He has yet to turn in a big 70.3 result against a top field.
X-factor: He has everything it takes to turn in a winning performance; it’s just a matter of if and when he can put it all together in a big race.

Ruedi Wild (SUI)

Top 70.3 worlds result: 11th (2013)
Bike: Focus Izalco Chrono
Season highlights: Win at St. Anthony’s Triathlon; third at Ironman 70.3 St. Croix; fourth at Ironman 70.3 European Championships; second at Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championships, 5150 Zurich
Strengths: A solid all-around athlete, who is probably strongest on the run.
Weaknesses: Wild has been a bit inconsistent since turning to non-drafting races after the 2012 London Olympics.
X-factor: He may be finding his fitness at the perfect time. His runner-up performance at last week’s Hy-Vee race was impressive.

Ben Hoffman (USA)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 26th (2007)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Runner up at Lake Stevens 70.3 (by less than a second) and New Orleans 70.3, third at Monterrey 70.3 and Ironman Coeur d’Alene.
Strength: His strong endurance engine, which powers a wicked bike-run combo.
Weaknesses: Better known as an Ironman specialist, Hoffman lost two sprint 70.3 finishes to Terenzo Bozzone earlier this season. Does he have the top-end run speed to keep pace in a heated fight to the finish? Without a win thus far in 2014, he may not have the confidence of others with standout seasons.
X-factor: He hasn’t raced at 70.3 worlds in four years, so he won’t be feeling the pressure of of the “usual suspect” contenders and 70.3 specialists.

Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 28th (2013)
Bike: Giant Trinity Advanced SL
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Cairns and Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya
Strengths: All-around past Olympian speed. He showed he still has his short-course chops when he got third at last weekend’s competitive Hy-Vee Triathlon.
Weakness: It’s only his second year racing long course, so a lack of experience at the non-drafting long distance means he may still need to work on turning his speed into strength.
X-factor: He’s hungry to keep improving and similar to the other former Olympians on this list, Kahlefeldt’s got intimidating speed and can handle the pressure of a competitive field.

James Cunnama (RSA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Cervélo P5
Season highlights: Win at Ironman 70.3 South Africa; fifth at Challenge Roth
Strengths: His run—Cunnama is capable of outrunning everyone on this list if he’s on top of his game, as evidenced by his 2:40:06 marathon at 2012 Challenge Roth.
Weaknesses: He has been inconsistent at big races this year, finishing 28th at Ironman 70.3 St. George and DNF’ing at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.
X-factor: Like many former teamTbb athletes, Cunnama has seen a big season of change and may be settling in at the perfect time.

Ben Collins (USA)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike: Cervélo P5
Season highlights: Wins at Mont-Tremblant 5150, Life Time Tri Minneapolis, New York City Triathlon; third at Chicago Triathlon
Strengths: His bike—Collins consistently comes off of the bike near the front.
Weaknesses: He has not shown strong results at the 70.3 distance at this point in his career
X-factor: Despite the inexperience at the distance, this has been a breakout year for Collins, so his confidence should be high heading into the race.

Iván Raña (ESP)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 14th (2013)
Bike: Argon 18 E-116
Season highlights: Won Ironman Austria
Strength: Superb running mechanics/speed developed from years on the ITU circuit. He ran into sixth position in Kona last year.
Weaknesses: He’s still relatively inexperienced at the 70.3 distance.
X-factor: He beat out stiff competition to win Ironman Cozumel and 70.3 Lanzarote in 2012, so he is a proven performer in deep fields.

Jordan Rapp (USA)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 22nd (2006)
Bike: Specialized Shiv
Season highlights: Second at 70.3 Buffalo Springs; fourth at 70.3 Calgary
Strengths: Rapp is a phenomonal cyclist who also knows how to pace his efforts throughout the day and finish strong.
Weaknesses: A grueling second half of the 2014 season (five 70.3s in six weeks) doesn’t leave him as fresh for race day.
X-factor: After a long season of chasing Kona points, “Rapp Star” has decided not to race the Ironman World Championship, making this his “A” race and likely giving him renewed motivation as the season-end approaches.

Lionel Sanders (CAN)

Top 70.3 worlds result: Has not raced
Bike:
Louis Garneau Gennix
Season highlights: Wins at Ironman 70.3 Racine, Ironman 70.3 Muncie, Ironman 70.3 Steelhead, Ironman 70.3 Muskoka
Strengths: Solid bike-runner, with an emphasis on the run. He regularly turns out incredible half-marathons off the bike, including a 1:09:36 at Ironman 70.3 Racine.
Weaknesses: Confidence under pressure—when things got tough in St. George, the relatively new Sanders got mentally discouraged, but as long as he keeps his attitude in the right place, he could be a surprise contender.
X-factor: Even though he has an impressive amount of 70.3 wins for someone so new, Sanders has the advantages that come with not being an obvious, seasoned vet favorite. If he’s in the right position, his consistent run could be lethal.

Callum Millward (NZL)

Top Ironman 70.3 worlds result: 12th (2013)
Bike: Quintana Roo PR6
Season highlights: Third at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh and Ironman 70.3 Vineman; fourth at Ironman 70.3 Boulder; second at Wildflower
Strengths: He’s well rounded and has been consistently on top of the podium this year, showing constant improvement.
Weakness: He’s always near the top but hasn’t been in the number one spot often.
X-factor: Millward is another one to come from the ITU, but he’s said he thinks he¹s always been slow-twitch. He has thrived in tough fields and could be right up there in Mont-Tremblant.

VOTE: Tell us which male you think will win the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship

See the complete start list.

Looking for the women’s preview? Read it here.

Compiled by Samantha Strong, Liz Hichens, Bethany Leach Mavis, Julia Polloreno & Jené Shaw.