2016-07-14

„Let the games begin“

Pictures: TEAMCHALLENGE

 

„Let the games begin“
Kick-off press conference at the DATEV Challenge Roth

A world upside down: Defending champions Nils Frommhold and Yvonne van Vlerken won't be the hunted at this years DATEV Challenge Roth, but the hunters. Instead, two rookies to the race in Roth have to bear the role of top contender. But that load should not be to heavy for them. After all, they are the reigning world champions: Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf, who plan to leave their mark on the world's biggest long-distance race this Sunday. That's what they announced  at Thursday's press conference.

Frodeno confirmed to TEAMCHALLENGE almost half a year ago, that this year would mark his first start in Roth. Swiss athlete Daniela Ryf, who had to drop out of Frankfurt's race two weeks ago due to hypothermia made a last minute decision. "After the race in Frankfurt, I reached out to Daniela's trainer and shortly afterwards she signed up.", tells a happy race director, Felix Walchshöfer. With her, Walchshöfer, had the perfect package for this year's 15th birthday of the triathlon-brand „Challenge“, which will be celebrated this weekend: Both winners from Hawaii in one race, that is something you only see in Hawaii – and now in Roth.

Great things are expected from Jan Frodeno after the starting signal sounds at 6:30 AM, in the 20,9 degree warm water of the  Main-Donau-Channel: He is expected to leave behind the 3400 other athletes and of course the 650 relay teams which start at a later time, and he is expected to do it in a new record time for a long-distance race (3,8 km swimming, 180 km bike course and 42,195 km running). Frodeno is coming for the record of 7:41:33 hrs, set up five years ago by  Andreas Raelert. But Frodeno also made clear at the press conference that his first priority is to win the race. His gameplan: To start out aggressive in the water and keep figthing till the finish line. That sounds quite possible for someone who is a short-distance olympic champion, a repeated European champion at the long-distance, last year's winner at Hawaii and winner of multiple awards from sports writers and TV-spectatores. But never in the 30-year history of long-distance races in Roth has a reigning winner of Hawaii's race been able to win afterwards in Franconia.

So there is hope for the defending champion: „Let the games begin“, says Nils Frommhold „I'm fit, I'll go all out.", His last year's winning time of 7:51:28 hrs gives reason to expect great things from him.

In the women's race, the world record set up 5 years ago in Roth by the undefeated retiree Chrissie Wellington, seems unbreakable. But Daniela Ryf, 29 years old, believes that one day she will reach that level, too. "Chrissie's record motivates me to get up every morning and train to improve my performance.“ she tells the hundred journalists at Roth's Kulturfabrik.

Last year's winner Yvonne van Vlerken is an excellent example of how to improve from year to year. The Dutch has prepared for the race in Roth like never before. Long breaks and altitude training included. According to her, she has visualized the race dozens of times in her mind. She has studied the competition. Only one thing came as a surprise for her: Daniela Ryf's late entry. "That left me speechless at first“ says the likeable athlete who lives in Austria. Ryf is a danger to van Vlerken's own ambitions: She could be the first woman to win Roth for the fourth time.

In the race for first place, or at least a place on the podium, there are others involved, too. One of them is local hero Anja Beranek, last year's 3rd placed, who feels even stronger now. She showed her level of performance at Fuerteventura, where she beat Daniela Ryf. In Roth, the athlete from Nuremberg has home court advantage.

The DATEV Challenge Roth is not only the measure of all things for the visiting athletes, but also for the hosts. The race weekend generates an extra 9 million euros of  revenue in the city of Roth. Even more in the district. 42.000 beds were booked in the area during the race days. 6000 volunteers stand ready for Sunday's race, which will enjoy 24 degrees and a little wind. At least 260.000 spectators are expected. But Bavaria's biggest one-day-sports-event is more than facts and numbers: „The emotions make the Challenge so special“ says Roth's second mayor Hans Raithel, who doubles as a referee for the race.  „In Roth there are two seasons: Before the Challenge and after the Challenge.“

To keep it that way, TEAMCHALLENGE wants to set up another epic race. For the first time, infrared cameras will make sure that the performances are purely based on muscle power. TEAMCHALLENGE collaborates with SIEMENS to detect hidden motors in the bike frames  already at the bike-check-in on Saturday. True to the slogan: „Say no to E-doping“.  And main sponsor DATEV came up with an inovative tracking system which allows us to follow the race on the smartphone.

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