The Ironman World Championship brings together the best athletes in the world for a day-long spectacle of speed, endurance, and grit where only the best of the best will rise to the top. With last year’s men’s podium and the runner-up in the women’s race on its roster, the Bahrain Endurance Team aims to lead the field and soar high.
With Kona Top 10 finishers and solid Ironman champions and contenders rounding out the Bahrain Endurance roster starting at Dig Me Beach on Saturday, chances are high a Bahrain Endurance athlete will be on the podium by week’s end.
Triathlon statistician Thorsten Radde, who runs the website trirating.com, says at least one of the previous years’ podium finishers has made it onto the next year’s podium 87% of the time for both the men’s and women’s races. Bahrain Endurance’s strong line-up has a 64% chance of at least one man on the podium, while for the women there is a 59% chance.
Based on previous Ironman results and numbers, the chance for a podium finish for men’s champion Sebastian Kienle is 51%. For second runner-up Jan Frodeno, it is 24%. Women’s runner-up Daniela Ryf has a 44% chance of returning to the podium this year.
Team manager Chris McCormack is positive yet realistic of Bahrain Endurance’s chances.
He points out, “On the men’s side, Sebastian is given the favourite’s role as defending champion, but defending this title is a very difficult thing to do. In the last 15 years only two athletes have been able to do that on the men’s side.”
He adds, “Jan is a special case as well, with such massive pedigree and a flawless season. If anyone can make it difficult it will be him. He has had the better of Sebastian all year.”
On the women’s side, he sees Daniela Ryf as overwhelming favorite. “More athletes go from second place to the winner’s podium than anything, so she is posed to do that. She has had a single blemish on a two-year season — that being her defeat last year to Mirinda Carfrae on this course. Daniela is a better athlete than she was last year and her season has been flawless. This is her race to lose.”
Watch for the Bahrain Endurance athletes who will shape the way the race unfolds. McCormack names Brent McMahon as the rookie that will be in the mix and Ben Hoffman as the runner-up that must strike to win when the opportunity comes. Caroline Steffen and Jodie Swallow are the two stellar athletes who can keep Ryf honest.
The remaining Bahrain Endurance contenders Paul Ambrose, Luke Bell, and Fredrik Croneborg, McCormack believes can hang tough for Top 15 finishes.
The two-time Ironman world champion concludes, “Kona is always a difficult one to ascertain winning, as the elements play such a huge role in the outcome of the race. To me, this is the absolute purity of the event that makes it so special.”