Is Daniela Ryf ready to retake her crown? Can Anne Haug run her way to another title? Does Kat Matthews continue her run of wins? Is this really the year Lionel Sanders finally takes an Ironman World Championship? Can anyone stop the Norwegians? So many questions, only one press conference.
Photos by Kevin Mackinnon:
Can anyone stop the Norwegians tomorrow? They arrive in St. George as the prohibitive favourites in many eyes.
It’s been two years and seven months since Daniela Ryf has had an opportunity to regain her Ironman World Championship title, and she is motivated to do just that on Saturday. “I am excited to have my health back and to have this opportunity again,” she says. “The big races do motivate me.”
As a member of World Tour cycling team Ineos Grenadiers, Cameron Wurf is on call for all the major cycling events. He wasn’t sure he could compete here in St. George until the final team had been announced for the Giro d’Italia and his name wasn’t on it. “I never make any plans about the race until I am out of the water. For me it is about getting through the swim … I get through that and go from there.”
Read more – Lionel Sanders: I am fighting myself and my desire to destroy myself early on.
Defending champion Anne Haug says this course is “quite different from Hawaii. The focus is on strength. It’s not about speed, it’s about strength.”
Kat Matthews arrives in St. George as a favourite on many people’s lists. “I really think the attention is just attention. I have no preconceived notions about this race – to me it is not about the predictions. I just want to have a performance I can be proud of against some of the best triathletes in thew world.”
For Kristian Blummenfelt, Saturday’s race will be the first time he’s doing a full-distance race in a “competitive field.” “Hopefully I will have a bit of a gap on Gustav after the swim. If he has a gap like he had in the 70.3 (worlds) he will be difficult to catch. He is one of the strongest guys in the field.”
According to Gustav Iden, his mother had to come to St. George so he had someone to talk to about his race! (He and Kristian Blummenfelt share the same coach, while his brother, Mikal, coaches Lionel Sanders.) “Kristian is the favourite – I give him a 30% chance of winning.”
Heather Jackson says that it was a challenge to make the “mental shift” from preparing for Kona in October to St. George in May. “This course is similar to a lot of courses that I love – it is going to be an all-day battle out there.”
American Skye Moench says her win at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt proved she can race with the best in the world.
This will be Sebastian Kienle’s last year of racing at the world championships. “These guys are making me retire. It will be difficult to be up there again. I took a page out of Lionel’s book and did some training through the winter – not as much as the Norwegians!”
Alistair Brownlee’s first long-distance win was here in St. George when he won the Ironman 70.3 race over Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle. He doesn’t anticipate riding away from the field tomorrow as he did in 2017. “It’s going to be a unique kind of race this weekend – pack racing brings a uniqueness to the event.”
Great Britain’s Ruth Astle was the age group world champion in 2019. She’s since turned pro and won Ironman Mallorca and Ironman South Africa last year. “Being sat here is pretty surreal!”
Lisa Norden will always be remembered as the silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics, but she arrives here in St. George as one of the women to watch, especially on the bike. “It is a challenge not to use the bike too much and remember that I have to run a marathon afterwards.”
Sam Long was hit by a car while riding his bike a few weeks ago and almost didn’t make the trip to St. George. “But the Big Unit prevailed,” he joked. “I am more excited about this race than Kona – I am not going to Kona this year.”