Five World Champions in the Race for 2023 Challenge Roth crown
By Wires June 23, 2023
ROTH. On 25 June 2023, five Hawaii champions – Patrick Lange, Anne Haug, Sebastian Kienle, Daniela Ryf and Chelsea Sodaro – will compete in Roth. Include Magnus Ditlev, Andi Dreitz and Nils Frommhold and seven athletes who have already stood at the top of the Roth podium will lead the world-class field. In addition, Laura Philipp will make her debut in the Franconian triathlon mecca. Triathlon fans can look forward to a record-breaking race in both the women’s and men’s fields.
Title hat-trick for Anne Haug?
In the women’s race, the two-time Roth winner and 2019 world champion will enjoy a home turf battle with the world’s best female triathletes. The Bayreuth local won DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep in impressive style in both 2021 and 2022. Anne Haug’s outstanding skills have already been demonstrated in 2023, for example her wins at the PTO European Open in May and Anfi Challenge Mogán-Gran Canaria. “I want to trust in my strengths”, said Haug said at the press conference on Thursday. “To win, I have to have patience.”
Roth debut for reigning world champion
Anne Haug will be up against the strongest possible competition when the exceptional athletes meet. The competition is led by none other than reigning Hawaii winner Chelsea Sodaro. Her race in Roth will be her third long distance ever. The 33-year-old mother won the Ironman World Championship in October with the second-fastest time ever set there in 8:33:46. Triathlon fans around the world will be curious to see whether the American can repeat her coup in the Home of Triathlon. “What I hear is that you’re not a proper triathlete until you race at this race and I really wanted to come,” she said. “I have felt so welcomed, it’s a race like no other. Unlike other race experiences I’ve had, you feel embraced by the community and you feel part of the family. It really is the home of triathlon.”
“If you want to win the race, you have to break the world record”
Of course, the triathlon series winner of the last few years would not want to miss such a race. With five world championship titles over the long distance, two Roth victories and the double award as Swiss Sportswoman of the Year, Daniela Ryf is considered by many to be the best triathlete of all time. For the first time since 2016 and 2017, the 35-year-old will be on the start line at the world’s biggest long-distance triathlon for the third time. In Roth, she also set her personal best of 8:22:04 in 2016. After finishing eighth in Hawaii, she would certainly like to attack the top ranks again in a major race in 2023. “I have been here twice and have great memories,” explains Ryf. “The race will be hot and full of passion. If you want to win the race, you will have to break the world record.”
Like Chelsea Sodaro, Laura Philipp will make her debut at DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep in 2023 after having to cancel her start in 2019 at short notice due to injury. Of all the active female athletes, Philipp has the fastest personal best time with 8:18:20. This was only seven seconds slower at Ironman Hamburg 2022 than Chrissie Wellington’s world best time in Roth set in 2011.
Wide circle of favourites
A lot can also be expected from Fenella Langridge and Lisa Norden. Fenella Langridge showed she loves racing in Roth, not least with her atmospheric ride over Solarer Berg – one of the triathlon moments of last year. At her Roth debut in 2021, she made it onto the podium straight away. In 2022, she was only beaten by Anne Haug. “My tactic? Start in the lead and finish in the lead!”
At 38 years of age, 2012 Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden will make her debut in Roth. Norden finished fifth in Hawaii and sixth at the Ironman World Championships in Utah in May 2022 and could certainly cause a surprise at her first appearance in Roth.
Excitement and records in the men’s field too
A furious race is also in the offing for the men on 25 June. At DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep 2023, the best athletes in the world will once again compete. At the head of the men’s field, the winners of previous years will meet the young guns of the sport.
One who has already shown what he is made of at a young age is Magnus Elbæk Ditlev. With an exceptional performance, the 25-year-old left all competitors behind him at last year’s DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep and will enter the race in 2023 as the defending champion. Ditlev missed Jan Frodeno’s course record by just nine seconds and he is currently ranked third in the Professional Triathlon Organisation World Ranking. “Obviously it’s a really stacked field and I’m expecting a tough day but I hope to win again.”
One of the big German favourites for victory in the triathlon mecca of Roth is undoubtedly Patrick Lange, winning at his Roth debut in 2021. At the last edition of DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep, the two-time Hawaii winner finished second behind Ditlev. Lange proved the 36-year-old is in top form at Ironman Israel in November. There, he set an impressive run record of 2:30 in the long-distance marathon. “Roth has grown on me, so I also want to give something back.”
Is the young guard taking over the triathlon concept?
At the age of 24, Frenchman Sam Laidlow is still at the very beginning of his triathlon career. He caused a sensation at Ironman Hawaii 2022 and was crowned world runner-up – with the second-fastest time in the history of Hawaii to boot. With 4:04:36, he even set an all-time bike record there, which is certainly something he can also be relied upon to do on the fast and fan-lined course in Roth.
Daniel Bækkegård will also be a force to be reckoned with in Roth. He is travelling to Franconia for the first time with a personal best of 7:43:40. At 26 years old and only two years older than Laidlow, the Dane has collected prestigious titles, especially in the middle distance. He is the reigning Ironman 70.3 European Champion and finished third at the 70.3 World Championships. In the PTO Collins Cup, he won in Šamorín with Team Europe in 2021. “Roth is the biggest and most meaningful races to do as a Dane,” he 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.”
Old friends in Roth with top chances
Only about 30 km from his home in Nuremberg, Andi Dreitz can once again ensure a top Franconian ranking. His triumph at the home race in Roth in 2019 will always be remembered. In his fifth participation in the DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep, another top ranking is possible.
The same is true for Joe Skipper. The Briton has caused quite a stir on the triathlon circuit after his two second places in Roth in 2016 and 2017. With a total of seven Ironman titles and several course records, the 34-year-old is one of the most successful triathletes of recent years. His personal best of 7:41:07h gives an idea of what Skipper is capable of in top form in Roth.
In 2015, Nils Frommhold already stood at the top of the podium and was able to record his greatest career success at the time with the German championship in Roth. The 36-year-old Berliner from the Erdinger Active Team has already climbed every step of the Roth podium. Finishing second behind Patrick Lange in his last appearance in 2021, Frommhold certainly wouldn’t mind another podium finish in 2023.
Pieter Heemeryck manoeuvred his way onto the start list at short notice. The Belgian finished second at the Ironman European Championships at the beginning of June and wants to compete with a first-class field in Roth. The 33-year-old won the Challenge Family Pro Athlete World Bonus in 2019 and this will be his second time at Roth, the first being in 2021.
First American winner in Roth?
A candidate for a first US men’s victory in Roth in 2023 is Ben Kanute. He celebrated his greatest successes so far at the middle distance and was runner-up at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in October. In his first start over a 3.8 km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run, he finished third at Ironman Arizona in a time of 7:51:25.
“The Roth drug still works damned well”
For Sebastian Kienle, “the drug Roth still works damn well”, as he explains at the press conference before the race. “It won’t be my last long distance, but it will be my last important one.” The crowd favourite announced his retirement from professional triathlon many months ago. His long-distance career began in Roth in 2010. After his Hawaii victory in 2014, victory at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2012, the Roth victory in 2018 and countless other titles, Sebi will celebrate the farewell of his glorious professional career on 25 June 2023 at his last long-distance race in Germany. What more fitting setting for this than a start in the place associated with so many goosebump moments?
Predicting unpredictability in the top field
Bradley Weiss could also be a candidate for the podium in Roth. The South African missed the podium by only 80 seconds last year, finishing fourth.
The complete pro list can be found at www.challenge-roth.com
Share this article