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Is it time for the “young guard” to rule in Roth?

Always a competitive race, this year's men's race in Roth features a duel between the established big names and future stars

Photo by: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

Jan Frodeno will be in the studio, but two of his fellow Ironman world champions from Germany will be racing at Challenge Roth this weekend, no-doubt hoping to hold off the charging “young guard” who appear ready to light things up at the world’s largest, and typically fastest, long-distance race.

Can you pick a favourite for Challenge Roth this weekend?

Kienle’s last long-distance race in Germany

Sebastian Kienle, the 2014 Kona champ, is celebrating his final year of professional racing in style, competing at many of his favourite and bucket-list races. Roth was his first full-distance race and will be his last one in Germany. (“It won’t be my last long distance, but it will be my last important one,” Kienle said at the press conference.) He’s joined by 2017 and 2018 Kona champ Patrick Lange, and both would dearly love to take another Roth win this weekend. That won’t be an easy task, though, as the two face an impressive field of up-and-coming stars who would dearly love to finish ahead of the two legends.

Kienle has been in good form, but has had some bad luck at his last few races, so look for him to power away on the bike, then follow that up with a solid run. Lange would dearly love to duplicate the 2:30 marathon split he posted at Ironman Israel last year – that fast a run will certainly make him a threat for the win.

Sebastian Kienle’s special edition Roth bike to be auctioned for charity

Can Sam Laidlow duplicate his Kona performance?

It didn’t take long for France’s Sam Laidlow to hammer to the front at The Ironman World Championship in 2022. He would set a new bike course record of 4:04:36.


France’s Sam Laidlow burst into the spotlight with his runner-up finish in Kona last year. The 24-year-old hasn’t always had the best luck holding things together on the run at full-distance races, so his performance turned out to be bit of a shocker. Last month Laidlow ended up pulling out of Ironman Lanzarote thanks to severe dehydration issues, so he’s no-doubt hoping he’ll have better luck this weekend. A strong swim/biker, the race will completely depend on whether or not Laidlow can hold things together through the run.

Can Magnus Ditlev defend?

Magnus Ditlev wins Challenge Roth 2022. Photo: Ingo Kutsche

Last year Dane Magnus Ditlev came off the bike in Roth with Jan Frodeno, only to see the three-time Kona champ pull out of the race a few kms into the run. Ditlev kept up the fierce pace, though, and would take the win, missing Frodeno’s course record by just nine seconds. He’ll likely have to go that fast again to take a second straight win.

Another Danish athlete to watch will be Daniel Baekkegard, who will be looking to improve on his 7:43 full-distance PB.

“Roth is the biggest and most meaningful races to do as a Dane,” Baekkegard said at the press conference. “It is a mythical race and we have a long history of racing here. I’m pretty certain that this is by far the biggest stage you will ever have in the sport of triathlon.”

Is Ben Kanute ready to add a big full-distance win to his resume?

A big day for Ben Kanute with a runner-up finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2022.

2016 Olympian Ben Kanute has been one of the most versatile triathletes on the planet over the last few years, putting himself in the mix for the mixed team relay (sorry, couldn’t resist …) for the US team for Tokyo, then taking the runner-up spot at the 70.3 worlds last year, as he did in 2017. His Ironman debut was a third in Arizona in 7:51:25. He’ll have to go a lot quicker to be in contention this weekend, but certainly seems to have the talent to do that.

Others to watch?

Andreas Dreitz is a local hero who took the Roth title in 2019. He’s still trying to get back to that kind of form after a bike crash last year, but will certainly have lots of local support. Joe Skipper, when on form, could bike and run his way to the front of the race – he’s finished second twice, so you know the Brit is motivated to get the win. Nils Frommhold won the race in 2015 and was second in 2021 behind Patrick Lange. South African Bradley Weiss was just 80-seconds short of the podium last year. Think he’d like to be top-3 this year?

You can watch the race live here.