Ryf To Go After $1 Million This Weekend In Bahrain

Ironman world champ Daniela Ryf has a shot at winning $1 million this weekend in Bahrain to cap off a perfect 2015 season.

Photo: John David Becker

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The Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain is the culmination of the Triple Crown Series (which also included Challenge Dubai and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Austria). With her victories at both previous races, reigning Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf of Switzerland is the only athlete now eligible to capture the $1 million prize purse for winning all three races in the Triple Crown. However, the first Ironman 70.3 event in the Middle East will be attracting a star-studded pro line-up, and Ryf will face some tough competition this Saturday.

The course
The Bahrain course is a flat and fast point-to-point course that passes by some of the kingdom’s significant new and historical attractions, including the first oil well in the Gulf, the Bahrain International Circuit (home to the Bahrain Gran Prix Formula One race) and the Al Areen Wildlife Park.

The men’s race
Topping the men’s start list is 2014 Ironman World Championship runner-up Ben Hoffman of the U.S. He’ll face athletes such as Canadian Brent McMahon, who a year ago set the record for the fastest Ironman debut at Ironman Arizona (7:55:48); South African James Cunnama, who was fourth in Kona in 2013 and Belgian Bart Aernouts, who was fourth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship this year. Also look for Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild and Great Britain’s Ritchie Nicholls to be in the mix for podium contention on Saturday.

The women’s race
While the men’s race will see some exciting competition, the story of the day will be whether Ryf can cap off her perfect season by taking home $1 million. She’s won both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championships this year, in addition to the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt and has an undefeated season. Her Swiss compatriot Caroline Steffen, who’s been on the podium several times in Kona and won several Ironman 70.3 races in 2015, has a solid shot at the Bahrain title, as does Great Britain’s Jodie Swallo, a former Ironman 70.3 world champion who set the course record at Ironman 70.3 South Africa this year. Also look for Britain’s Corinne Abraham and Canada’s Melanie McQuaid to be in the mix, though Ryf appears to be at the top of her game right now.

Pro Men:
Ben Hoffman (USA)
David Plese (SLO)
James Cunnama (RSA)
Ruedi Wild (SUI)
Richie Cunningham (AUS)
Alberto Casadei (ITA)
Christian Hoerper (GER)
Sebastien Joffret (FRA)
Olivier Godart (LUX)
Erik Watson (BHR)
Tomas Renc (CZE)
Charles Martin (FRA)
Albert Molins (ESP)
Kacper Adam (POL)
Zsombor Deak (ROU)
Marek Nemcik (SVK)
Domenico Passuello (ITA)
Bertrand Billard (FRA)
Antony Costes (FRA)
Patrick Dirksmeier (GER)
Mathias Hecht (SUI)
Ritchie Nicholls (GBR)
Brent McMahon (CAN)
Henri Schoeman (RSA)
Bart Aernouts (BEL)
Felipe Manente (BRA)
Michael Davidson (RSA)
Travis Johnston (RSA)

Pro Women:
Daniela Ryf (SUI)
Jodie Swallow (GBR)
Caroline Steffen (SUI)
Corinne Abraham (GBR)
Lucie Zelenkova Reed (SUI)
Asa Lundstrom (SWE)
Laurel Wassner (USA)
Frankie Sanjana (GBR)
Caroline Livesey (GBR)
Melanie McQuaid (CAN)
Carina Bretchers (GER)

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