Who to watch at Kona

It’s that time of year again – the culmination of the triathlon season as the top elites prepare for the Kona World Championships in Hawaii on 8th September. A host of athletes riding fi’zi:k are making their final preparations, let’s look at the form of some of our headline-makers.

First up, it’s hard to look past “the fastest man on earth,” Jan Frodeno. The 35-year-old German is the only person ever to hold both the Olympic Triathlon Gold and the Ironman World Championship title, turning his 2014 third place into victory last year. It might be an understatement to say that the fi’zi:k Tritone saddle user is showing great form this year, winning July’s Challenge Roth in a world record time of 7:35:39, which included a best-ever Roth bike split. Frodo will inevitable be off in search of gold again at Kona.

Whenever we think of Michelle Vesterby we keep smiling! The Danish swimmer-turned triathlete celebrated her 33rd birthday last week deep in preparation for the race in Hawaii. Michelle’s first Ironman gold came in Lanzarote 2012, and she won last year’s Ironman Copenhagen in a sub-9-hour time on her way to peaked her performance well for Kona, grabbing a brilliant fourth-place finish. This year her sixth place finish at Roth (July) shows great form, so we’re hoping her fi’zi:k Tritone saddle and R5 Donna shoes help propel her to the podium this time.

Luke McKenzie’s been smashing out the wins for years, an eight-times Ironman winner, in 2013 he took second place at Kona, and it’s no secret that the fi’zi:k Arione K1 rider wants to go one better. After a troubled year, 2015 was a pivotal year for the 35-year-old, joining the ‘sub 8-hours’ club, winning the Ironman Western Australia by a huge margin and becoming the fastest ever Aussie on home home soil. Then Kona 2015 was a disappointing DNF, due to hydration and feeding miscalculations – for 2016 Luke’s aim is to bring it all together in Hawaii.

Another ‘sub-8’ fi’zi:k triathlete, Andreas Raelert – the elder of the German brothers – is the second-fastest Ironman ever! With a 2016 preparation including seventh place at Copenhagen in August, the 40-year-old Arione user has stepped up to the Kona podium five times in the last seven years – and wants that top spot more than most humans can even imagine.

Former 70.3 European Winter Champion Alessandro Degasperi has impressed since his step up to full distance. The Italian’s victory at 2015 Lanzarote Ironman showed his true form, and this year’s preparation for Kona is timed perfectly with victory at Italy’s Grado tri and second at France’s Triath'Long International de la Côte de Beauté, using fi’zi:k saddles and R1 shoes. ‘Performance in both races was good despite having suffered a little tired,’ said Degasperi. ‘Now I will rest a few days before the last two weeks of training that I will do in Tucson, Arizona, before flying to Kona.’

A special mention must go to the full BMC-Etixx tri team whose Kona line-up features the fi’zi:k saddle-riding athletes: David McNamee, winner, 2016 Challenge Galway and Challenge Poznan; Ronnie Schildknecht a sub-8 man and winner of this year’s Ironman Switzerland; Bart Aernouts winner, 2016 Challenge Poznan – and former duathlon world champion; and Will Clarke, who put in a sub-8 hour performance hitting the podium at this year’s Challenge Copenhagen. Look out for BMC-Etixx Pro Triathlon Team’s strong presence at the start line.

Good luck to them, and all fi’z:k athletes in Hawaii!