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Jan Frodeno OUT of IRONMAN World Championship in St George

German legend won't defend his crown in Utah in May

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Hot on the heels of Lucy Charles-Barclay’s injury, the news was confirmed on Thursday the the three-time and defending IRONMAN World Champion, Jan Frodeno, is OUT of the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship, set to take place in St George, Utah on May 7.

An athlete that many consider the greatest triathlete of all-time, the absence of Frodo will be a huge loss for an event that the triathlon world has been building towards for many months.

Injury strikes Frodeno

Making the announcement via his Instagram channel, Jan revealed that injury has ruled him out of contention:

“I guess it’s time for an update. It’s been a tricky time and unfortunately I have to concede to the fact that I won’t be on the start line in St George. I have recently been diagnosed with a small partial tear of the Achilles tendon.

“That’s the reason why my running simply didn’t progress past really a hour of running, which even at the very best of speeds is not enough for a marathon, or even a half. It’s gut wrenching, I guess after 2018 the second time that I wont make it to a big race that I’d really like to be at. Part of sport I guess, but it still doesn’t get any easier.

“For now it’s time to play it a little bit safe. My dream is still to get to the big island of Hawaii and have a really, really great race there. Of course when you have a partial rupture there is always a danger of more happening, and so I’ve decided to hopefully play it smart and prepare well and get myself ready in the best way I can and face adversity once again.

“Inevitably when you seek the limit, at some point sooner or later you will find it… and I’ve taken that step too far once again! But you know what, that’s a part of my nature, it’s how I’m made up and mediocrity is and will be the enemy, so I’m going to push all I can. Unfortunately it was just a little bit too much.

“Rehab time, and I’ll be hurting watching from the sidelines but stoking the fire for sure and hoping for a return as soon as possible.”

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Big three becomes a Norwegian two?

We rated Frodeno – along with the Norwegian duo of Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden – as the big three favourites for the title.

In a recent interview with Mark Allen on our Road to St George series, Olympic Champion Blummenfelt was clear that he also saw himself, Gustav and Jan as the clear contenders for the top step of the podium. “Neither me or Gustav have ever raced against Jan so he’s going to be a new challenge.”

It remains to be seen whether the Norwegian confidence will match their race-day performance, but you can be sure that both Kristian and Gustav would rather have had the opportunity to test themselves against the German legend.

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A big loss for St George

With twice IRONMAN World Champion Patrick Lange already out of contention following his bike crash in February, that leaves a significant absence from the Pro Men’s start list.

Frodeno and Lange had between them won every Kona title from 2015 to 2019 inclusive. That leaves 2014 winner Sebastian Kienle as the only previous Men’s IRONMAN World Champion set to race in Utah as of now.

Taking that further and looking at the full list of men’s qualifiers for the event, only Bart Aernouts (2nd, 2018) David McNamee (3rd, 2018 and 2017), Lionel Sanders (2nd, 2017) and Ben Hoffman (2nd 2014) – along with Sebastian (four podiums in total) – are athletes who have previously made the top three at the IRONMAN World Championship.

We’ve written at length (as has Thorsten Radde), why all logic suggested that the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship should be one of the most wide open races for years – but the absence of the dominant figure in Men’s long distance racing is not one we wanted to see further contribute to that.

The Frodeno Factor is real. It looks like we are going to have to wait until Hawaii in October to see it in full glory.

Jan Frodeno Zwift Tri Battle Royale 2021
Photo Credit: Joern Pollex
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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