Who will be crowned the new Ironman World Champion on the Côte d'Azur? For superstar Jan Frodeno it would be the ultimate freestyle to end his great career with the Olympic victory 15 years ago and three Hawaii titles alone (2015, 2016 and 2019).
For compatriot Patrick Lange, it would also be the return to the throne after his victories in Kailua-Kona in 2017 and 2018 over a 3.86-kilometer swim, 180.2-kilometer bike ride and a 42.2-kilometer run.
Why is the World Championships taking place in Nice and why are only the men starting there?
During the corona pandemic, the World Championships in Hawaii had to be canceled twice, in 2020 and 2021. The result was that the number of athletes, especially in the age groups who had the right to start through a corresponding qualification and a whopping entry fee, increased. In May 2022, the 2021 World Cup was held in St. George, and in October the World Cup in Hawaii was spread over two days. The number of participants was twice as high as usual.
Kailua-Kona officials then got in touch and explained that the small town would no longer be available for two days of racing due to the crowds. In order to be able to continue to keep the starting numbers high, Ironman decided on the new variant: the men's decision will be made in Nice this year, the women will compete in Hawaii on October 14th. It should be changed annually for the time being.
How do the athletes find the new regulation?
The excitement was huge. "It's absolute chaos, and you have to ask yourself what they're actually doing in California. You can't be so haphazard," said superstar Jan Frodeno after it was announced that women would start in Hawaii, but not men and the new location had not yet been decided at the time of the announcement. "The cow will probably be milked until it falls dead," said Patrick Lange. In the meantime, tempers have calmed down and the athletes have come to terms with it. Especially since Nice has a great triathlon history, albeit not with Ironman World Championships, as Lange emphasized in a dpa interview before the race: "But Nice is probably the second best choice after Hawaii."
What are the main differences between the routes in Hawaii and the French Riviera?
Swimming is in the Mediterranean instead of the Pacific. The difference should be rather small. The water temperature is likely to be over 22 degrees, the benchmark for professionals, above which wearing a wetsuit is prohibited. That also means that the good swimmers are more able to show off their qualities. Then it's off to a bike course that's very different from the course in Hawaii. The highest point there is just over 170 meters above sea level. A not too small part in Nice is between 900 and 1200 meters high. Long, difficult climbs await the starters, as well as rapid and technically demanding descents.
The running track is absolutely flat. Four laps have to be completed - practically always with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. From the Promenade des Anglais you can go to the airport and back again. Unlike in Hawaii, where there are hardly any spectators or no spectators in some areas, the athletes will not be able to complain about fans on the running course and the additional push. Due to the proximity, many of the European starters bring their families, relatives and friends with them.
Who starts everything in Nice?
Both pro men and amateurs will compete - they all had to qualify from other Ironman races. A total of over 2200 athletes are registered. There are 52 athletes on the starting list for the pros, led by Jan Frodeno with number 1 in his last big race and Patrick Lange (2). There are also Franz Loeschke, Jonas Hoffmann and Leonard Arnold from Germany. With 249 registered starters, Germany is also the second largest fraction behind the USA.
Who are the favourites?
Jan Frodeno is the one to beat, said his German opponent Patrick Lange. Both are definitely among the top candidates. Thanks to their extensive experience with a total of five World Championship titles, they should be able to assess the challenge of the difficult bike course well, after all they still have to complete a marathon as quickly as possible. Both prepared at altitude, Frodeno in his adopted home Andorra, Lange in St. Moritz. But there is some competition, even if St George world champion Kristian Blummenfelt and his Norwegian compatriot Gustav Iden, Hawaii winner 2022, are not there. Among them the second in Hawaii from France, Sam Laidlow, or Challenge Roth triumphant Magnus Ditlev from Denmark.