In a few days triathlon fans from around the world will be anxiously watching Challenge Miami. There’s a large pro field – 48 men and 31 women are on the start list. These triathletes will compete for a $50,000 prize purse and the winners will take home $6,600. The race distances are between the Olympic and the half-Ironman distance – a 1,600 m swim, 60.3 km bike and a 16.9 km run – about 20 km less than the PTO 2020 Championship held at Challenge Daytona last December. Just like the race in Daytona, the triathlon will take place on a Nascar circuit, so it will be a very fast race.
On the men’s side we’re expecting a big duel between Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders, while in the women’s race the favourites are Lucy Charles-Barclay, Paula Findlay and Anne Haug.
Here are my predictions for the top five:
Charles-Barclay and Lauren Brandon are by far the best swimmers in the women’s race and they will have a good lead at the end of the swim. Charles-Barclay is also an excellent cyclist, so she will be able to increase the gap to her competitors. Anne Haug and Paula Findlay are slightly superior on the run, but I think she will have enough of a lead at the end of the bike to fly away with the win.
In Challenge Daytona, Haug finished second to Paula Findlay, despite having to serve a penalty, and will no-doubt be determined to finish ahead of the Canadian this time around. Although she might trail out of the water, her cycling and running skills will allow her to climb to the second step of the podium.
Findlay showed at Challenge Daytona that she is in great shape. On the other hand, Lucy Charles-Barclay was not in Daytona, and the British athlete is superior in the water and on the bike. I think it will be a hot fight for victory, but that Findlay will finish on the third step of the podium.
Stimpson finished 15th at Challenge Daytona. She swam and ran very well, but lost almost 10 minutes on the bike. However, Stimpson, who specializes in draft-legal triathlon, now has more experience with a time trial bike. Also, the bike route is 20 km shorter, which is to her advantage.
Crowley is an excellent long distance triathlete. She finished third at the Ironman World Championship in 2017. Her cycling skills will allow her to sneak up to the leaders and she will finish, in my opinion, in the top 5.
Related: Frodeno, Charles-Barclay, Findlay, Sanders and Haug highlight stacked Challenge Miami field
It’s hard not to choose Jan Frodeno as favourite for victory. Indeed, Frodeno has no weaknesses. He will be in front of the race in the swim and bike, then he is also one of the best runners. On the other hand, one can question his fitness at this time of year. Frodeno rarely competes so early in the season. Generally, his first triathlon of the season is in April. Also, it’s been a long time since Frodeno competed in a triathlon, unlike his competitors. But I think he will win the duel against Sanders.
If one can question Frodeno’s fitness, there is no doubt that Sanders is in superb shape. His cycling skills are beyond doubt and he has recently shown that he is in very good running shape. The only question is how much time he will lose swimming. It will be very difficult to catch up, especially since this time he will have only 60 km to make up for lost time.
Rudy Von Berg
Von Berg reminds me a little of Frodeno; he has no weaknesses. He is able to get out of the water alongside Frodeno and Kanute and stay among the leaders on the bike. Von Berg may not have the skills to run to beat Frodeno, but I think he will be able to get on the podium.
Matt Hanson had the fastest running time at the Challenge Daytona. Although he may lose time swimming and cycling, I think he can make his way into the top five.
Pablo Dapena González
At the 2019 Challenge Daytona race, Dapena fought Lionel Sanders in a heated battle, finally finishing in second place. The Spaniard was the long-distance world champion in 2018, and is a very good swimmer, cyclist and runner.