We’re being cowards here at 220. Never before has a field of multi-platform multisporting greats come together for one race. And for that reason, we’re reluctant to call it for the first-ever Challenge Bahrain this coming Saturday.
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Hell, even the pros were having trouble remembering all the names when asked for their predictions. So while we mull, ponder and deliberate, let’s hear from a few of the men on their thoughts ahead of this weekend…
Having missed out on Kona due to injury, the first question is posed to 2013 Roth champion and Olympian Dirk Bockel if he thinks he’s in better shape than most, ie more recovered, heading into the race?
“This is bigger than Kona and everyone sitting up here today will treat this as their A-game. And if I’m more recovered or not, that’s definitely [my] game plan [to go out and win].
And what of Pete Jacobs, 2012 Kona champion? “I’m well rested coming into this event but I think this course really suits people who are a bit rested because the bike’s flat, there’s a big tailwind and if you can survive through the bike then anything can happen with fresh legs, you never know.
“I’ll be really happy with a top ten, it is going to be a race like I’ve never been with such a talented field, it’s great to be a part of the race,” added Jacobs. “So not great shape, but still pretty optimistic that things could go alright.”
Whereas fellow reigning world Ironman champ Mirinda Carfrae had already declared her lack of fitness and played down her chances for victory on Saturday, Sebastian Kienle was not sharing what could be construed as a defeatist attitude.
“I don’t know if I’m in shape to be a factor but I will definitely give my best. And we’ll figure it out on the course. I’ve done a lot of races where I’ve not been able to do a lot of prep and then I’ve had a really good race. I think we’ll see on Saturday but I’m not in bad shape.”
But with a field as strong as this, who does he think will be his biggest rivals come race day?
“I’m not as diplomatic as Dirk [who swerved the question as to who would be a factor in the race]. For sure, Tim Don because he has the legs for putting in one of the best run splits. And of course Michael [Raelert], as he’s very hungry for success. So those are my two favourites.”
For a full line-up of the pros taking part in this weekend’s event head to: www.challenge-bahrain.com.bh.
The race gets underway at 7.30am local time (4.30am UK time) on Saturday 6 December, and a live online feed will be broadcast on race day at www.challenge-bahrain.com.bh. We’ll be hosting a liveblog from 7am local time right here on the 220 Triathlon website, and there will also be regular updates on our Twitter account.