Remember when we said that Lionel Sanders was done for the 2021 season?
“I am not competitive right now – there’s been two races in a row where I’m not in the thick of it,” he said in a video after racing at Ironman Chattanooga.
Well, it sounds like things are turning around for the popular Canadian. Based on a video posted on his YouTube channel yesterday, it would appear that he’ll be in Sacramento for Ironman California, ready to take on three-time Kona champ Jan Frodeno and the two-time defending Ironman 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden, amongst others.
The stacked Ironman California field also includes Australia’s Cam Wurf, who beat Sanders at Ironman Copenhagen in August and Ben Hoffman, who was one spot behind Sanders at Ironman Chattanooga at the end of September (the race was won by Joe Skipper).
You can see the full list here. (The race is a pro men’s only event – the pro women race at Ironman Florida.)
Sanders has taken on Frodeno a couple of times this year, finishing second to the German at Challenge Miami and then setting a new PB in finishing second again to the 2008 Olympic gold medalist at the Zwift Tri Battle Royale in Germany where Frodeno set a new world-best time for a full-distance triathlon.
After focusing the first part of his season on the Olympics in Tokyo, Iden turned his sights to longer-distance racing, competing at the Collins Cup (as did Frodeno and Sanders) before successfully defending his 70.3 world title in St. George. Ironman California will be his debut at the full distance.
Sanders has had a very busy schedule this year that includes wins at Ironman 70.3 Texas and the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, a brutal day at Ironman Coeur d’Alene that saw him walk much of the marathon, the Tri Battle Royale, the runner-up finish to Wurf in Copenhagen, a win of his match race at the Collins Cup just a week after that and a runner-up finish in Chattanooga. That’s four full-distance efforts already this year.
Frodeno will arrive in California as the logical favourite for the race, but triathlon fans will be anxiously waiting to see how the race between he and Iden shakes out. Can Sanders bounce back from his tough 2021 schedule to be in the mix? It will certainly be a fun race to watch.