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The pros have spoken: There will be fireworks at the Ironman World Championship Nice

"The whole race is going to blow up completely." And that's one of the athletes speaking ...

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Just ask them. The top ranked pros for Sunday’s race were on hand for the press conference today, and they were unanimous: there will be “fireworks” as athletes push themselves well beyond their limits on this tough course. The other thing the athletes were all clear about: there is nothing certain about Sunday’s inaugural championship here in Nice.

Here are some words and pictures from today’s presser:

Jan Frodeno

“There’s always pressure,” the man many consider the GOAT said when asked how things have been leading up to the race. “I love pressure. It’s something I relish.”

The Olympic gold medalist, two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion and three-time Ironman world champion is looking for a “moonshot” here in Nice, but most aren’t willing to bet against the German star.

Can Jan Frodeno win the Ironman World Championship in Nice?

As he’s geared up for this race he’s been doing a lot of training with South African Bradley Weiss who, according to Frodeno, has “maybe the best power to weight ratio of anyone.”

While, in the past, Frodeno has not been a fan of the Nice course, he’s been determined to “attack one more time to try and get to the pinnacle of the sport.”

“I like the call (of moving the world championship to Nice),” he said. “I think it’s a really cool venue.

Now that he lives in Andorra, Frodeno has embraced climbing (there are “10 climbs that are an hour long right out my door”), but he said that he really excels at downhills and is “looking forward to playing that card.”

“This course wouldn’t pass health and safety standards in America,” he joked. “It’s a course that adds a special element and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“I don’t think it will come down to the run,”Frodeno said when asked how fast he thought the run would be. “I think there will be fireworks. This is such a blank canvas. This won’t be a ‘wait for the run course.'”

Patrick Lange

The German’s Kona debut included a third-place finish and a new marathon course record. That day he was part of a German podium sweep (behind Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle), so seeing a German sweep of the 70.3 worlds podium a few weeks ago was heartening.

“It’s a good omen for Sunday,” Lange said.

Last year Lange ran a 2:30 marathon to win Ironman Israel, but pointed out today that the conditions were very different to what we can expect here – rain and an “undulating” course.

“I don’t think we’re talking enough about the tough run course,” Lange said. “It’s all in for this flat run, it’s going to be really challenging. Keeping calm at the start of the run will be really hard. It’s a big unknown for all of us. A world championship is different to a normal Ironman.”

Sam Laidlow

The runner-up at last year’s race in Kona, Laidlow was born in England but lives in France, making him another popular athlete gearing up for Sunday’s race.

“I keep having to kick myself,” he said. “I’ve grown up watching these athletes, these press conferences.”

When asked about the pressure he might feel as a top contender, Laidlow pointed out that he’s still young, with lots of time to gain experience.

“I will win this race someday,” he said. “If I don’t, it’s part of the process.”

Rudy Von Berg 

He might make Boulder, Co. his home now, but the American-born Von Berg grew up in Cannes. He grew up watching. the Ironman event here in Nice, and is now taking on his idols at the top level of the sport. He was third here in Nice at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2019, so he can handle the hometown pressure and loves the course.

“It’s mentally very difficult along the Promenade des Anglais,” Von Berg assures the rest of the field. He should know – he won Ironman France in 2022.

Magnus Ditlev

After a world-best performance at Challenge Roth in July, all eyes will be on the Dane’s impressive bike talents on Sunday.

“I have only been racing as a pro for a few years,” he said. “It is special to be racing here with some of my idols.”

Don’t think that sense of awe means he plans on going any slower.

“I take a lot of confidence from my previous Ironman and long-distance races,” he continued. Funny how a 7:24:40 full-distance race will do that for you.

“You really don’t know what is going to happen,” he said. “I think there are going to be a lot of surprises. It’s an interesting experience. I feel pretty confident that I am going to climb pretty well, and I have some tricks to use on the downhills.”

Joe Skipper

Another fan of tough course, the Brit is hoping that he has “the legs that I had last year in Wales (another of the toughest Ironman courses, which he won).”

Always a colourful character, Skipper recounted his one and only race experience in Nice.

“I was in Nice for a stag party,” he said. “I wasn’t planning on doing the run. I died in the heat.”

Denis Chevrot

After blitzing to a pair of Ironman European Championship titles in Frankfurt (2022) and Hamburg (2023), the Frenchman has every reason to smile as he gears up for Sunday’s race. His best finish at an Ironman World Championship event is 14th – this course should give him the chance to improve on that.

“Hamburg very flat, this is not,” Chevrot warned.I will race like I do every time. I want to have no regrets at the finish line. I won’t go, go, go on the bike, because I want a strong race in all three parts.”

Braden Currie

The Kiwi comes to Nice after a brilliant, record-setting performance in Cairns in June. He’s spent some time at altitude in St. Moritz this summer, gearing up for a course that many feel is ideally suited to him.

“The whole race is going to blow up completely,” Currie warned. “There are so many points where you can put out so much power. It’ll be a gambling game of where you want to play your cards.”

“I think the race is going to be so much more on from the gun,” he continued. “It’s a world champs. I’m prepared to risk everything to get to the podium. I think everyone here is ready to do that, which will make for some tough racing.”

Clement Mignon

It doesn’t get more “home-town hero” than this – the winner of Ironman Nice this year lives two km from the race start. Sunday’s championship will be his fourth full-distance race.

“It’s flat, but in the heat and with the wind the run won’t be easy,” Mignon warns.

We’re guessing he would know!

Leon Chevalier

The Frenchman will be racing in his third world championship event, in a third different location. He was seventh in Kona last October, and won the Ironman African Championship earlier this year. Chevalier thrives on tough courses, so he’s looking forward to Sunday’s race.

“Ironman is pretty difficult, but I like to make it even more difficult,” he said. He dialled up the training for Sunday’s race with almost nine weeks of altitude training.

Oh, and he’s quite sure his bike will truly make a difference.

“Cervelo makes the fastest bike out there … sorry guys,” he told the rest of his competition.