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In the men’s race, Kienle will be racing against fellow German and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno and 2013 Ironman world champion Frederik Van Lierde (BEL). “It’s going to be one tough, but exciting, day,” said Kienle. “Winning here in Frankfurt in front of my home crowd meant the world to me. If they want the title they’ll have to give me a good battle for it.”
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Frodeno’s transition to long-distance triathlon has been impressive, overcoming a ripped wetsuit, bike tire punctures and cramping legs on his full-distance debut in Frankfurt last year to finish third in 8:20:32. Frodeno repeated that feat (despite technical problems again) at Kona 2014 placing third behind Kienle and American Ben Hoffmann.
Van Lierde is also looking to hit the heights of his 2013 season, when he won the biggest prize of all – Kona. He’s already off to a strong start after winning Ironman South Africa with a 14min lead over a strong field that included fellow Belgian Bart Aernouts.
In the women’s race, Daniela Ryf – a protégée of top coach Brett Sutton – lines up as favourite after some amazing performances last year, including winning her Ironman debut in Zurich, a second title at Ironman Copenhagen, the 70.3 European title and 70.3 Worlds. She also finished runner-up at Kona 2014.
She’ll be racing against fellow Swiss Caroline Steffen, two-time runner-up at Kona, and German athlete Julia Gajer, whose top results include victory at Ironman Arizona 2013 and sixth at Kona last year, where she finished just behind Steffen. “For German athletes, the Ironman European Championship is one of the most prestigious titles in the sport,” says Gajer.
Outside of the pro ranks, there will be more than 3,000 age-group athletes racing on 5 July in Frankfurt, which has hosted the Ironman European Championship since 2002. This year, the organisers will be offering live video coverage, a GPS tracking of the pros and enhanced age-group tracking on the event website.
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