This weekend sees another major 70.3 regional competition at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship as well as full-distance racing at IM Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.
The 70.3 European Championship Elsinore in Denmark will give us the chance to see some of Europe’s best going toe-to-toe – with a sprinkling of USA and Internationals athletes thrown in to spice things up ahead of the Collins Cup qualification cut-off on 9 August.
Meanwhile, Coeuironamr d’Alene will see a Sanders versus Long rematch and some top USA females duking it out for Collins Cup points.
Ironman 70.3 European Championship Elsinore 2021 Race Preview
Elsinore, Denmark, has hosted the last three editions of the 70.3 European Championship, which returns after a COVID hiatus to deliver top-class racing action. The course features a harbour swim, solid one-lap bike course with 600m of rolling climbs and a largely flat run circling the historic Kronborg castle.
In the women’s race, we’ll get to see two top Brits go head-to-head with Lucy Charles-Barclay (Europe #3 / PTO World #4) and Holly Lawrence (Europe #4 / PTO World #6) both on the start list.
Meanwhile, the stacked men’s race will see representatives from the USA, Europe and Internationals regions giving us a pre-Collins Cup battle including Rudy von Berg (USA #2 / PTO World #8), Daniel Baekkegard (Europe #5 / PTO World #12) and Max Neumann (Internationals #4 / PTO World #20).
WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN?
Date: 27 June 2021
Location: Elsinore, Denmark
Time: 05:30 UTC
Prize Money: Prize Money: $75,000 – pays 10 deep $12,000 to $1,000
Course: Harbour sea swim, rolling bike, flat run
Lucy Charles-Barclay (Europe #3 / PTO World #4) might not get a pre-Kona test against Daniela Ryf following the PTO Word #1’s withdrawal from the race – but the battle with Holly Lawrence is sure to be a good one. Charles-Barclay will no doubt lead the swim and pushing hard on the bike but she’ll also have extra confidence in her run from her WTCS debut in Leeds recently.
Holly Lawrence (Europe #4 / PTO World #6) will be looking to topple Charles-Barclay to get to the top of the podium and defend her 2019 title at this race. Racing back-to-back weekends after her victory at 70.3 Des Moines could mean she’s in a position of commanding confidence – or that she’ll be slowed by fatigue and transatlantic travel. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a classic footrace to the line.
Highly ranked from her 2019 season, Susie Cheetham (PTO World #20) hasn’t put a result on the scoreboard since Kona that year but her strong bike and run could see her feature on the podium – especially if the top-three falter.
Rudy von Berg (USA #2 / PTO World #8) is the top-ranked athlete on the start list and also two-time defending champion in Elsinore. He’s a talent with few weaknesses and at 27, the American is still raising his game. If he can replace his fourth-place finish at 70.3 St. George with a win here, he could very well return to the top of the USA rankings.
Daniel Baekkegard (Europe #5 / PTO World #12) will be looking to claim the European title in his native Denmark. The Dane won 70.3 Dubai, was right in the mix until his penalty-mix up-DQ at 70.3 St. George and claimed third on a tough day at IM Tulsa. In short, he’s a true talent to watch. Baekkegard is also just two points shy of automatic Collins Cup qualification so will be gunning to overtake Joe Skipper on the European rankings.
Magnus Ditlev (Europe #6 / PTO World #16) is another star on the rise and another racer wanting to take the win on home soil in Denmark. Sitting just behind Baekkegard in the Team Europe rankings, a big result here could equal a Collins Cup spot. Ditlev’s 1:09:58 run in Challenge St Polten recently showed he’s more than just an uber-biker too.
George Goodwin (Europe #7 / PTO World #17) sits behind Ditlev in both the world and Team Europe rankings and his super-strong biking and running skills shouldn’t be overlooked to challenge for the podium or even the win. Things didn’t go his way in St. George, so Goodwin is sure to have the fire to race hard in Elsinore.
Representing Team Internationals, Max Neumann (Internationals #4 / PTO World #20) has made the trip from Down Under to test himself against a top European field. The Australian has come on a lot since his fifth-place finish in Elsinore 2018 and with the all-around swim, bike, run package, he could top the podium this time.
Another athlete from Oceania, Kyle Smith (PTO World #27) is so far unbeaten at the 70.3 distance but it’ll be a tough ask for the Kiwi to keep his winning streak against some of the world’s best. If he manages it, he’ll certainly be on the Collins Cup captains’ watch list for Team Internationals.
We’ve also got the likes of Andreas Dreitz (PTO World #23) and Florian Angert (PTO World #24) who have both factored into race dynamics at big events in 2021, so keep a lookout for these two powerhouses to shake things up on the bike.
Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2021 Race Preview
There hasn’t been a full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, since 2015 and a solid field of pros are taking advantage of its return and the chance to race for a slice of the $100,000 prize purse.
With a beautiful lake swim, challenging two-lap bike course – featuring over 2,100m of climbing – and a rolling marathon with another 450m of hills to scale, Coeur d’Alene should offer a tough, fair race suited to the strongest athletes.
In the men’s race, we’ll have a repeat duel between Lionel Sanders (Internationals #1 / PTO World #3) and Sam Long (USA #1, PTO World #5), this time over the full distance. Meanwhile, Patrik Nilsson (PTO World #34) will fly the flag for Europe.
On the women’s side, Sarah Piampiano-Lord (PTO World #11) regains her highly ranked position after returning from maternity leave and will do battle with Heather Jackson (USA #2 / PTO World #17) and Carrie Lester (Internationals #8 / PTO World #25).
WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN?
Date: 27 June 2021
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA
Time: 11:00 UTC
Prize Money: Prize Money: $100,000 – pays 10 deep $15,000 to $1,000
Course: Lake swim, hilly bike, hilly run
Lionel Sanders (Internationals #1 / PTO World #3) is certainly the favourite in Coeur d’Alene. He’s shown great form throughout 2021, winning at 70.3 Texas and St. George. With an improved swim, Sanders has put all his focus into his iron-distance prep for Coeur d’Alene where he’ll try to bag a Kona slot. But he’s also got the Zwift Tri Battle Royale against Jan Frodeno (Europe #1 / PTO World #1) in three weeks’ time, which might temper his efforts here.
Sam Long (USA #1, PTO World #5) went mano-a-mano with Lionel Sanders in St. George, both athletes pushing to their limits in an unforgettable duel to the line. Going to the well there seemed to cost the American at Ironman Tulsa, where he finished 13th. So, Coeur d’Alene will be part redemption, part experimentation for Long as the 25-year-old hones his craft over the full distance. He’ll likely be down out the swim, but his bike strength could see him redress that deficit well before the run.
Next on the rankings is Patrik Nilsson (PTO World #34) who, after a DNF at Tulsa, will be looking to show his true calibre here in Idaho and earn a slot for Hawaii. We’ve not seen him in full flight since 2019 but the swim-bike-run talents of this BMC Pro Triathlon Team athlete make him a real contender.
Other athletes with the talent to threaten the podium include Cody Beals (PTO #48) and Justin Metzler (PTO #72) both solid all-rounders looking for a good post-COVID-year result and worlds qualification.
Sarah Piampiano-Lord (PTO World #11) returns from maternity leave and straight back into the top-ranked position for Coeur d’Alene. By her own admission, she’s still carrying 10-plus pounds of baby weight but if she’s managed to get anywhere near her 2019 fitness, she could be right up there. Simply completing her first 2021 race should see Piampiano-Lord jump straight into an automatic qualification spot for the Collins Cup too.
Based on the Collins Cup ranking points, Heather Jackson (USA #2 / PTO World #17) is one of the athletes that Piampiano-Lord could leapfrog, so she’ll be looking for a win here to safeguard her spot on Team USA. Jackson, who won here in 2015, has made no secrets of her iron-distance focus and her work with coach Ryan Bolton has already seen the American run her first-ever sub-three marathon at IM Tulsa, where she finished fourth.
Carrie Lester (Internationals #8 / PTO World #25) is flying the flag for Team Internationals in Idaho, and certainly has the class and consistency to win here. While she’s another long-course specialist who’s not raced too much recently, the Australian took three M-dot victories in 2019 and is always a tough competitor. She might not reach the Collins Cup based on points, but the captains are sure to have her in mind as a potential pick.