At just 24 years of age and in in only his second full distance start, Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev proved (again) that he is far more than an uber-biker, producing an impressive all-round performance to claim victory at the DATEV Challenge Roth 2022.
Off the bike together with the legend Jan Frodeno, the German legend had to withdraw in the first 3km of the run with a recurrence of the Achilles injury that took him out of the IRONMAN World Championship in St George.
That, however, should not detract in any way from the Dane’s performance today. He finished just nine seconds short of the, at the time, world best time that Jan himself had set here six years ago – and more than nine minutes ahead of defending Roth champion and twice IRONMAN World Champion, Patrick Lange.
Swim – GOAT’s can swim too…
Warm temperatures at the Main Donau Kanal, which connects the Main and Danube rivers, meant a non-wetsuit swim for today’s 3.8km. It was swimskins all the way today for the top athletes in Bavaria.
Leading the way was Frodeno who had just Maurice Clavel for company as they reached the transition zone just a few seconds inside 49 minutes. All times today in the water a little slower than we have seen historically, that non-wetsuit aspect of course a contributor to that.
The next pack arrived around 90 seconds later, lead by Great Britain’s Thomas Davis, who was quickly followed by Lange (GER), Sebastian Najimowicz (POL), Reece Barclay (GBR), Reinaldo Colucci (BRA), Robert Kallin (SWE), Nick Staggenborg (GER), Patrick Dirksmeier (GER), Elias Shipperges (GER) and – importantly – Ditlev.
Another four plus minutes passed before we saw the next group, including Sam Long (USA), who was 6:34 down on Jan Frodeno. That deficit, perhaps, was a little bigger than he would have hoped for.
Bike – Record breakers
Once onto the bike, Ditlev, Kallin and Colucci were the first to make a move from the chasers, and in pretty quick order too (inside 20km), they had bridged to the front of the race, joining Frodeno and Clavel, to make a powerful leading group of five very early in the race.
The addition of the powerful Scandinavian cyclists was great news for Frodeno, but not so much for Lange, who was now somewhat isolated and losing time to the front of the race.
At the end of lap one, Colucci had lost a little time (1:17) on what was now a leading four, but Patrick Lange, in the company of Bradley Weiss (RSA), were now six minutes behind the leaders. Sam Long had made up 10 places from his swim position of 18th, but that was secondary, given he had lost a further three minutes to the leaders and was almost 10 minutes back.
The attrition at the front continued – with Frodeno very much to the fore and pushing the pace – and another 45km on (with 45km remaining). it was just Jan, Robert and Magnus left at the front. Clavel was around 20 seconds off the back now, but the lead packs’ advantage over Colucci was now 7:15, almost 11 minutes to Weiss and Lange and 11:41 to Sam Long.
Any question marks over Frodeno’s prospects pre-race were around his running potential, given his early season injury, and he was seemingly intent on building as big of an advantage as possible over his competitors before the start of the marathon.
Frodeno continued to force the pace over the final quarter of the ride, with only Ditlev able to stay with him as the fracturing of that front group continued. That duo reached T2 with an advantage of 1:50 over Kallin. With a record bike split of 4:01:56 from Ditlev (4:03:07 from Frodeno), both were inside the 2018 split of Cameron Wurf. No surprise then that those gaps at the front of the race were significant.
Clavel really suffered over the final section of the bike, arriving in T2 10:20 behind. Next up – and 14 minutes behind the Frodeno / Ditlev pacesetters – was a group of Lange, Weiss, Long and Colucci.
Run – No go for Frodo, not stopping Ditlev
After initially looking great, the pre-race questions of whether Frodeno would be ready for a top-level full distance race were (sadly) answered, when around the 3km mark, while leading, he had to pull the plug and DNF. Not the result that anyone in the sport wanted – we can only hope that the earlier decision will result in minimal damage, which can be repaired in time of the big showdown (hopefully) in Kona.
That left Denmark’s Ditlev alone at the head of affairs, Kallin around three minutes back now and some serious running talent chasing… but with a lot of ground to make up.
With Frodeno out, 10km into the race and the Ditlev lead over Kallin was up to 3:47. Now up to third place, the running power of Lange was in full flow and making up ground, but still 12:44 back as the Scandinavians were leading the way. Long was moving well in fourth (+13:32) with Clavel, Weiss and Colucci within a minute of the ‘Big Unit’ in 5th/6th/7th.
Lange’s pace took him into second place and past Kallin around the 25km mark, but still 11 minutes behind the Dane. The long stride of the 24 year-old Magnus was holding strong. Lange wasn’t closing fast enough, and would surely need Ditlev to fade badly if a repeat victory was to be possible today.
At 30km the top positions were Ditlev still leading, Lange (+10:41), Kallin (+14:49), Colucci (+17:05), Weiss (+17:32) and Sam Long dropping back, now more than 24 minutes in arrears.
Into the final 5km and if anything, Ditlev was looking stronger than he was 20 minutes previously. Not with the run form of Lange for sure, but certainly strong and consistent enough that his efforts on the swim and bike were set to be rewarded with the addition of a more that strong marathon to complete a memorable victory in only his second full distance start.
There would be no last minute dramas, and courtesy of a 2:40:22 marathon, Magnus Ditlev would prove a worthy 2022 DATEV Challenge Roth champion. An exceptional performance across all disciplines was rewarded with a finish time of 7:35:48. That’s just nine seconds short of the time Frodeno set in 2016.
Lange rounded out his day with a 2:35:10 marathon – but reflecting the performance of Ditlev today, he was still nine minutes back at the finish.
Reinaldo Colucci – who won IRONMAN Brazil five weeks ago – rounded out the podium with a 2:43:14 marathon and a 7:52 finish.
Challenge Roth 2022 Results (Men)
Sunday 3 July 2022 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
- 1. Magnus Ditlev (DEN) – 7:35:48
- 2. Patrick Lange (GER) – 7:44:52
- 3. Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) – 7:52:36
- 4. Bradley Weiss (RSA) – 7:53:56
- 5. Robert Kallin (SWE) – 7:59:35
- 6. Sam Long (USA) – 8:07:07
- 7. Fritz Ferner (GER) – 8:14:45
- 8. Ondrej Kubo (SVK) – 8:16:28
- 9. Maurice Clavel (GER) – 8:16:58
- 10. Jean-Claude Besse (SUI) – 8:20:14
- 15. Pete Dyson (GBR) – 8:23:45
- 16. Reece Barclay (GBR) – 8:25:33