Frodeno and Ryf dominate IRONMAN European Championship Frankfurt

Chief Correspondent

Daniela Ryf produces one of the best performances of all time


Impressive Frodeno beats the ‘runners’ at their own game

Before today – even after his issues in 2017 – Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf were the favourites to win the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. If you are of a betting nature, I hope you took the odds before today’s race at the IRONMAN European Championship in Frankfurt.

Make no mistake, Frodeno (aiming for a third win) and Ryf (going for four in a row), will – quite rightly – be the hottest of hot favourites when the cannon fires at Dig Me beach on Saturday 13th October 2018.

Pro Women

The battle for the win? Ryf, Ryf, Ryf and Ryf. Race report finished, next…

Having raced recently at IRONMAN 70.3 Switzerland, a performance I described as “truly exceptional”, based on the relative times to the leading Pro men, there was little doubt about her form, after a very quiet early part of 2018. She may well have raised the bar again today. Suggesting – as I am – that her performance today was one of the greatest in Ironman history is barely even worthy of discussion. It was, and if you wish to contest that point, you are very welcome to your opinion – but you are wrong! The only question should really be, how close to the best ever was it?

Exiting the swim on the shoulder of former ITU star and London 2012 Olympic fourth place finisher, Sarah True – with nobody else close – there seems little doubt that Ryf and her team have been working hard to solidify her swim performances given the strength Lucy Charles. Ryf lost almost four and a half minutes to Charles in Kona last year. I think she has plans to be much closer than that this year.

As for the bike… well, Daniela today rode a 4:40:55 bike split. On a course that was 185km, extra distance added because of road works. For comparison, the next quickest Pro woman – Sarah Crowley – clocked 5:05:37. Men’s winner (with the fastest bike split), Jan Frodeno, posted a 4:28:36. Thus, a differential of just 12 minutes and 19 seconds. Remarkable. The best female cyclist in the history of long distance triathlon? Almost certainly.

The run, well a 2:58:53 run – during which she looked in total control – was another strong addition (though was topped by second placed Sarah True, who finished with a 2:54:58 on her impressive IRONMAN debut). The result was a winning margin of over 26 minutes and a time which would have placed her seventh in the men’s Pro race, ahead of multiple top-10 Kona finisher, Tyler Butterfield.

Ryf ended her day less than 38 minutes down on Jan Frodeno. In 2011, the gap between Andreas Raelert and Chrissie Wellington when both world best times were broken at Challenge Roth, was 37 minutes. It was one of those type of days. Ryf smashed her own course record (previously 8:51:00) and bike course record (previously 4:44:25 – Natascha Badmann 2014), despite the additional course length. Ryf has been the Queen of Kona for the last three years and, it would appear, is not ready to relinquish that crown. She’s better than ever.

Pro Men

Ever since a humbling 9:15:44 finish in Kona last year, Jan Frodeno has been on a mission. At IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside he gave Lionel Sanders “a schooling”. At IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau recently he left IRONMAN World Champion, Patrick Lange, more than six minutes back with another fastest swim / bike / run masterclass.

His goal today seemed to be set on another game of mental preparation for Hawaii – wanting to take Patrick Lange on at his own ‘game’, the run, and prove he can beat him there too. Much like Daniela, job done.

Australia’s Josh Amberger, acknowledged as the best swimmer in the sport in the 70.3/IRONMAN scene, produced his usual swiftness and left the water in 46:53, leaving Frodeno (and Lange, Nick Kastelein (AUS), Patrik Nilsson (SWE)), to follow 1:50 later, before another 50 seconds passed to Andi Böcherer (GER) and Tyler Butterfield (BER).

Amberger continued to lead for the whole of the 185km on the bike, but by T2 Frodeno was only 22 seconds behind, having gained a few seconds on Nilsson and Lange over the final 5km.

2008 Olympic Champion took the lead within the first mile – and would never be threatened. Through the 21km mark he was 1:55 up on Lange, with Nilsson now third at 5:17. That gap continued to grow, and in the final 10km Lange started to crack, and Nilsson was now closing in on a potential second place. Nilsson caught the reigning IRONMAN World Champion with 2km to go and went straight past, with Lange unable to respond.

Upfront, Frodeno was being his brilliant best and got to enjoy the red carpet, a 2:39:06 run split giving him a winning margin of more than seven minutes over Lange, with a clearly suffering Lange completing the podium in third place.

Frodeno is in stunning form. Sebastian Kienle crushed Challenge Roth last week. Lionel Sanders has only been beaten by Frodeno in 2018. Javier Gomez started his IRONMAN career with a close second / Sub-8 in cairns, while Lange – despite today – has proven he is a man to be feared on the lave fields of Kona. The ‘big dogs’ of the sport are in fine form and all motivated. Kona 2018 should be epic.

Mainova IRONMAN European Championship, Frankfurt – Sunday 8th July 2018
3.8km / 185km ** / 42.2km
(** course extended due to road works)


1st – Jan Frodeno (GER) – 8:00:58
2nd – Patrik Nilsson (SWE) – 8:08:15
3rd – Patrick Lange (GER) – 8:09:26
4th – Nicholas Kastelein (AUS) – 8:18:45
5th – Josh Amberger (AUS) – 8:26:16
6th – Philipp Koutny (SUI) – 8:32:13
7th – Tyler Butterfield (BER) – 8:38:58
8th – Mark Bowstead (NZL) – 8:40:31
9th – David Berthou (FRA) – 8:48:13
10th – Philipp Mock (GER) – 8:48:42


1st – Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 8:38:44
2nd – Sarah True (USA) – 9:05:19
3rd – Sarah Crowley (AUS) – 9:11:31
4th – Anne Haug (GER) – 9:14:06
5th – Katja Konschak (GER) – 9:36:11
6th – Rachel McBride (CAN) – 9:42:11
7th – Skye Moench (USA) – 9:42:26
8th – Bruna Mahn (BRA) – 9:43:12
9th – Saleta Castro Nogueira (ESP) – 9:44:22
10th – Marta Bernardi (ITA) – 9:55:33

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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