Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kona Preview & Predictions 2014 - Men's Race

Following the women’s preview, here’s a look at the men’s race, which promises to be highly entertaining as well.

Breakdown by country, men’s pros in the field:

Australia: 12
Germany: 9
USA: 7
Belgium: 4
France, Spain: 3
UK, New Zealand, South Africa: 2
Austria, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland: 1

A little recent history:

From 2007-2012, the Thunder From Down Under was untouchable at Kona, with Aussies Chris McCormack (2007 & ’10) Craig Alexander (2008-09, ’11) and Pete Jacobs (2012) all doing serious work on the biggest stage. Before that, Germany had a 3-year run with the combination of Normann Stadler (2004, ’06) and Faris Al-Sultan (2005). Finally in 2013 a new country was represented, with Belgian Frederik Van Lierde flying a bit under the radar on his way to an impressive victory.

Frederik, you dog you

With Alexander and McCormack now in the twilight of their careers, Jacobs and Luke McKenzie (2nd last year) should give Australia their best shot of reclaiming the crown. Germany is well represented as always, with rock star Sebastian Kienle, former Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Frodeno, and cagey veteran Andreas Raelert to name a few.

In addition to the defending champ, Belgium has Marino Vanhoenacker (who I cracked a lame joke to earlier this year), a guy who’s led this race for long stretches in the past. This may also be the best chance the US has had in a while, with Andy Potts raring to go after missing last year due to an injury, the ever dangerous Tim O’Donnell, and Andrew Starykowicz, who depending on weather conditions is always a threat to break the bike course record.

Who I’d like to see win:

is this Kienle's year?
  • Andreas Raelert (Germany): Raelert has been close many times, and his window of opportunity is closing fast... would like to see him pull off the win, although considered a long shot this year
  • Andy Potts (USA): Recent interview and former Olympian will be first out of the water as always - hopefully can put it all together on race day
  • Tim O'Donnell (USA): US Naval Academy grad and Mirinda Carfrae’s husband not necessarily a favorite, but stranger things have happened!
  • Sebastian Kienle (Germany): I met him at St. George this year and he’s a very cool, very humble guy. Is definitely considered one of the favorites as well, and has been close the last couple years.
  • Kyle Buckingham (South Africa): is it possible to go from fastest amateur one year to fastest pro the next? Probably not, but would be pretty amazing.
  • Filip Ospaly (Czech Republic): Who?? Yeah that’s right... Filip Ospaly, baby!! Our team is having a Fantasy Football-esque game with each teammate getting 4 random names, a point system, etc. My “autodraft” sucked... three so so female pros and this guy. However, that won’t stop me from cheering harder for a Czech athlete since inexplicably pulling for Ivan Lendl vs. Mats Wilander as an 8-year old. I don’t remember the match, just that it was on TV and it sucked me in.  


Prediction for the men’s podium:

  • Sebastian Kienle (Germany): was 4th in 2012 despite losing time to a flat and 3rd last year… is this the year he breaks through??
  • Jan Frodeno (Germany): huge wild card… on one hand, this is his first time at Kona, and only 2nd Ironman ever. On the other, he’s a MACHINE. Definitely capable of a stellar performance on his first try.
  • One of the two New Zealand dudes: as my darkhorse, I couldn’t decide between Bevan Docherty and Terenzo Bozzone, so I’m going with both. If they tie for 3rd after an inconclusive photo finish, I shall be referred to as "Nostradamus" throughout the rest of the year.

Should be an awesome race! Follow live coverage Saturday, Oct. 11th on

Jan Frodeno

cramming the night before my test

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