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‘We’ll see on race day if we’re all playing nicely or not’ – Kanute talks Roth tactics

Runner-up in the 70.3 Worlds last year, Ben Kanute aims to underline his full-distance credentials when he makes his Challenge Roth debut.

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American star Ben Kanute is looking forward to his Challenge Roth debut this weekend – and seeing where his form stacks up after his first proper block of full-distance training.

Kanute gave Kristian Blummenfelt a real scare when runner-up to the Norwegian at the 70.3 Worlds at the end of October and then rounded off his season with his IRONMAN debut in Arizona which saw him finish third and book his World Championship spot for this year.

He’s deferred that place to Kona 2024 on account of his brother’s wedding clashing with the IMWC in Nice in September, but he’s stepping back up in distance for the second time this weekend.

‘We’ll see what it translates to’

“It’s not like IRONMAN Arizona was a complete afterthought,” he told us. “But the 70.3 Worlds obviously went well and Arizona was coming up three weeks later in my home city so I basically had one week rest, one week of Ironman training and then one week of taper.

“And Arizona went really well, actually. I did 7:51 and pretty much raced most of it on my own but it was just a good experience overall.

“Getting the Kona / Nice spot really opened up the year for Roth and that was basically the one full-distance race that really seemed motivating and interesting to me.

Ben Kanute Roth press conference 2023 photo credit Challenge Roth
[Photo credit: Challenge Roth]

“This is actually where my coach [Jim Vance] always said I should debut, but it just happened that IRONMAN Arizona came a little bit earlier.”

And having the focus on Roth means he’s done what he calls his first proper block of full-distance training, explaining: “We’ve had a solid six weeks of training. I feel like I’m in better shape – like quite a bit better shape – than Arizona and we’ll see exactly what that translates to on this course.”

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‘I’m expecting a really fast day’

What was the lure of Roth, which is yet to see its first American winner, that drew Kanute to Germany?

“It’s tough for us sometimes to watch the race live because it’s overnight, but you see the videos from it. You see Solar Hill and all of the crowds, and there’s definitely a bit of mystique about it that just seems so different from any race.

I mean, it’s one of the biggest races, if not the biggest, in the world and I want to experience it.

“I want to race the best and I want to race on the biggest stages and that’s what Roth is providing.”

He flew over a week before to acclimatise and spec things out, so what have his impressions been like so far?

“I think the course is a little bit hillier than most people expect, a little bit more challenging, but everything just rolls super fast here and I’m expecting a really fast day.”

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Cards close to chest

In terms of the race dynamics you’d expect Kanute to be to the fore on the swim and in terms of tactics he told us: “Yes, swim at the front, in the front pack, and I think we’ll have a pretty solid group of guys and it just depends how hard the guys want to ride overall for the entire ride.

“I think the first lap is going to be pretty crazy because we all know Magnus [Ditlev] and his capabilities on the bike. But between myself, Daniel [Baekkegard] and Sam [Laidlow], I think we all have really good firepower in the swim and on the bike and I think we all realise we don’t want Magnus to catch up if we can help it.

“So we’ll see on race day if we all are playing nicely or not. But I think for everybody, especially in full distance, you have to race what’s best for you and I think that’s just going to be how the entire race is going to pan out. Everybody just trying to keep their cards close to their chest and try and keep some of the runners too, like Joe Skipper and Patrick Lange at bay, because I don’t think anybody wants to get off the bike with Patrick.

“And of course, on this course, people get excited with the crowd, so I just expect to start very fast and hard. It’s what we see in a lot of the races now, including the shorter stuff, just really hard riding and racing from the beginning.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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