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Daniela Ryf on form. Again. Crushes the field at 70.3 Gdynia

Switzerland's Daniela Ryf was already the best - but right now, she is in her best form ever. Can anyone stop the 'Andy Bird' from more World Championship success this year? Highly unlikely...

Chief Correspondent
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Daniela Ryf – taking long distance triathlon to a different post code?

(Headline photo credit above: / Enea IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia)

Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf is the three-time (each) and reigning IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion. Based on her current form, betting against her doing anything other than adding a fourth title in both formats in 2018 would appear to be verging on pointless.

On Sunday at IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia, Poland, another total demolition of the field quite simply puts her in a class of her own. Over the 70.3 distance, there is almost no argument that she is clearly the best ever. For IRONMAN, perhaps only Chrissie Wellington is even in contention for that discussion. Her coach certainly is of that opinion.

In Poland she finished 23 minutes ahead of a three-time IRONMAN World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae, with a time that was just 10 minutes slower than the men’s winner, Timothy O’Donnell (USA), and the seventh fastest time of the day.

What’s more – this result is entirely consistent with her summer racing performances:

  • IRONMAN 70.3 Switzerland (10th June – REPORT) – 7th overall, 11 minutes behind Josh Amberger
  • IRONMAN European Championships (8th July – REPORT) – “One of the greatest in IRONMAN history” was my description
  • 5150 Zurich (28th July) – 6th overall – four minutes from men’s Pro leader over non-drafting Olympic distance
  • IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia -7th overall, 10 minutes behind Timothy O’Donnell

Ryf appears to have worked hard on her (already strong) swim, to reduce the impact of the threat from Great Britain’s Lucy Charles in that discipline. She lost almost four and half minutes in the water in Kona last year to Charles. Current form suggests that while she certainly won’t be on the feet of Charles on October 13th, she will reach the steps on Dig Me Beach a little closer this time around.

It is the bike however where I think describing Ryf as the best female cyclist ever in the history of the sport appears almost not up for discussion. In Gdynia she rode 2:12:27 versus the 2:07:13 of men’s winner O’Donnell. In Frankfurt (on an extended course of 185km), her 4:40:55 was just 12 minutes slower than Jan Frodeno, while at Rapperswil-Jona, it was a similar story.

Oh, and she’s not showing any weakness on the run either – and it is that, in truth, which is really the sign of a truly great triathlon cyclist. She is producing crushing, ‘uber-biker’ performances on two wheels, and then giving up little if anything on the run. Of note, Daniela has also produced the fastest women’s Pro run split in Kona for the last two years.

Ryf won the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships last year by almost seven minutes. Something similar in Port Elizabeth this year would surprise nobody. Ryf also holds the current Kona course record time of 8:46:46. If she can combine her current form with a good weather day in Hawaii this year, seeing Daniela Ryf crossing the finish line on Alii Drive with 8:3X on the clock seems a very realistic possibility.

It’s NOT a record. However…

Despite claims elsewhere, there has been a ‘faster’ female performance over the 70.3 / Middle distance, seen at Challenge Bahrain in December 2014, when Helle Frederiksen took the win (and $100,000), crossing the line in 3:55:50. That day, Frederiksen finished 19:46 behind men’s winner, Michael Raelert (GER).

IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia, Poland – Sunday 5th August 2018
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km


1st – Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 3:57:55
2nd – Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) – 4:20:47
3rd – Ewa Kommander (POL) – 4:25:41

7th – Emma Deary (GBR) – 4:39:58


1st – Timothy O’Donnell (USA) – 3:47:41
2nd – Nils Frommhold (GER) – 3:52:58
3rd – Markus Liebelt (GER) – 3:53:28

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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