Yesterday we weren’t sure if it really would happen, but this morning we woke to the news that it actually is official – Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders will compete in a “head-to-head showdown in an in real-life race over the long distance of 3.8-km swim; 180-km bike; and 42.2-km run,” according to a press release distributed today by the organizers. “The duel, set to be held in Allgäu, Germany on July 18, 2021, will epitomize the pure essence of the sport – one man against another.”
With events around the world still uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Frodeno “was keen to test himself ahead of his planned world championship defence in Kona, Hawaii in October, 2021.” The German Olympic gold medalist has challenged Sanders to come and be part of that test, it would appear.
A global broadcast of the event is planned “with a production level you would expect of any large sporting event.”
“This no distractions head-to-head battle is what sport is about,” says Frodeno. “I have the highest respect for Lionel and the idea of racing him motivates me to get up every day and continue to improve; take myself to the next level. He is the rising star of our sport, but I am not willing to step down just yet. Lionel is an incredible athlete and one of my fiercest competitors. He was more than up for the challenge.” Frodeno continues: “Allgäu has always represented a happy place for me. I raced here on my birthday previously, and I am extremely grateful for the assistance they have already provided us in making this event possible.”
The four-lap swim will take place in Grossen Alpsee Lake. The five-loop bike course will take place on a closed course, followed by a four-loop marathon “around the scenic landscape of Allgau.”
“This event is the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Sanders. “I have spent 10 years honing my head-to-head racing abilities. I don’t think anyone has as much experience as I do in mano-a-mano type racing. So to get the opportunity to showcase my biggest strength against the best guy in the world is truly an opportunity I cannot pass up. A victory over Jan would likely be the highlight of my entire career.”
“We are proud to get this idea off the ground and we have a vision we are working on day and night from now until the event,” says race organiser Felix Rüdiger, who is Frodeno’s manager. “We had many race organisers and brand partners reach out, excited about the potential of an event. We have chosen to partner with ZWIFT to put together a stand-alone race, free of distractions and other competitors so that we can focus solely on the IRL battle between Jan and Lionel. We will announce more great partnerships and details soon.”
Here’s a video with details on the course: