2015 Kona Predictions

A little delayed, but still in time. Here are my thoughts and predictions for this Saturday’s Ironman World Championship in Kona. First, let’s get a quick list of who’s slated to race:

Men Women
1 Sebastian Kienle GER
2 Jan Frodeno GER
3 Frederik Van Lierde BEL
4 Ben Hoffman USA
5 Andy Potts USA
6 Nils Frommhold GER
7 Timothy Van Berkel AUS
8 Bart Aernouts BEL
9 Lionel Sanders CAN
10 Ronnie Schildknecht SUI
12 Matt Hanson USA
14 Marino Vanhoenacker BEL
15 Jeffrey Symonds CAN
16 Cyril Viennot FRA
17 Tim Don GBR
18 Brent McMahon CAN
19 Matt Trautman RSA
20 Bas Diederen NLD
21 Timothy O’Donnell USA
22 Romain Guillaume FRA
23 Cameron Brown NZL
24 Ivan Rana ESP
25 Guilherme Manocchio BRA
26 Joe Skipper GBR
27 Michael Weiss AUT
28 Eneko Llanos ESP
29 Tyler Butterfield BER
30 Clemente Alonso-Mckernan ESP
31 Callum Millward NZL
32 Brad Kahlefeldt AUS
33 David Mcnamee GBR
34 Andi Boecherer GER
35 Andreas Raelert GER
36 Luke McKenzie AUS
37 Boris Stein GER
38 Dylan McNeice NZL
39 Fredrik Croneborg SWE
40 Igor Amorelli BRA
41 Denis Chevrot FRA
42 Jordan Rapp USA
43 Christian Kramer GER
44 Paul Ambrose AUS
45 Pedro Gomes PRT
46 Terenzo Bozzone NZL
47 Viktor Zyemtsev UKR
48 Kyle Buckingham RSA
49 Jan Van Berkel SUI
50 Maik Twelsiek GER
51 Victor Del Corral Morales ESP
52 Fraser Cartmell GBR
53 Daniel Bretscher USA
54 Miquel Tinto ESP
55 Luke Bell AUS
56 Matt Chrabot USA
57 Jeremy Jurkiewcz FRA
58 Justin Daerr USA
101 Mirinda Carfrae AUS
102 Daniela Ryf SUI
103 Jodie Swallow GBR
104 Caroline Steffen SUI
105 Rachel Joyce GBR
106 Julia Gajer GER
107 Mary Beth Ellis USA
108 Gina Crawford NZL
109 Meredith Kessler USA
110 Leanda Cave GBR
111 Melissa Hauschildt AUS
112 Angela Naeth CAN
113 Ariane Monticeli BRA
114 Elizabeth Lyles USA
115 Liz Blatchford AUS
116 Heather Wurtele CAN
117 Lucy Gossage GBR
118 Camilla Pedersen DNK
119 Eva Wutti AUT
120 Diana Riesler GER
121 Susie Cheetham GBR
122 Michelle Vesterby DNK
123 Amanda Stevens USA
124 Beth Gerdes USA
125 Heather Jackson USA
126 Britta Martin NZL
127 Ruth Brennan Morrey USA
128 Mareen Hufe GER
129 Haley Chura USA
130 Annabel Luxford AUS
131 Kelly Williamson USA
132 Dede Griesbauer USA
133 Astrid Stienen GER
134 Dimity-Lee Duke AUS
135 Corinne Abraham GBR
136 Tine Deckers BEL
137 Asa Lundstrom SWE
138 Shiao-Yu Li TWN
139 Sarah Piampiano USA
140 Caitlin Snow USA
141 Sofie Goos BEL
142 Laurel Wassner USA
Of Those racing, below are the folks I think could still be in the conversation for top ten on the run (with comments). Statistically, you need to have been top 4 the previous year in order to win it. That has only NOT happened twice since the 80’s (1996 and 2006). That leaves, Kienle, Frodeno, Hoffman, and Potts for the win. Given the season’s that they are having, virtual everyone making picks are giving the nod to either Sebastian or Jan. Potts is quick as ever at the half and relatively untested in the full as he keeps to lesser races in the States. The Hoff hasn’t had consistent dominance this season, So I’m calling the top 3 with a safe and boring prediction of 1st – Frodeno, 2nd Kienle and 3rd Potts. I see others in the hunt for those spots but more specifically, the top 10, so here are my thoughts on each:
1 Sebastian Kienle GER – Defending champ. He’s gonna need to fight like hell in the water to minimize the damage that Potts and Frodo will do to him. If he can put 8 minutes or so on Frodeno off the bike, he’s got a shot to repeat, but he can’t cook himself in the process.
2 Jan Frodeno GER – It’s Frodo’s to lose. Had he not flatted and had a penalty (and messy T2) last year and we might be discussing him as defending champ. He’s a faster swimmer than Kienle, been a faster cyclist than Kienle and a faster runner. He’s beat Kienle heads up in two major races this year. Some think that 70.3 Worlds showed Kienle is coming into form, but Frodeno’s focus was Frankfurt, not Worlds. Bottom line, if he doesn’t blow up, he wins. Plus, his wife is smokin hot.
3 Frederik Van Lierde BEL – Former champ. Lots of experience and no weaknesses, but no stand out strengths either. He won in gladiator style as those ahead of him collapsed (literally). So if it’s a rough day out there, he will rise. Top 5.
4 Ben Hoffman USA – Inconsistent this year after his breakout second place. I hope “The Hoff” proves not to be the one hitter that Pete Jacobs has shown to be, but I don’t see it this year.
5 Andy Potts USA – Very balanced race last year. Fastest swim and 3rd fastest run, and only 2:15 out of second place. He’s got tons of experience here, so a solid bike ride gets him 3rd and a podium.
6 Nils Frommhold GER – Well rounded. Strong in all 3 disciplines. We’ll see if coming to Texas to prepare was a smart decision.
7 Timothy Van Berkel AUS–  Almost identical to Nils in performance last year. If he has a good day, he’ll be hunting for podium.
8 Bart Aernouts BEL – Has got to get out of the water faster. If you get out of the water behind Kienle but can’t ride like him, a podium is out.
9 Lionel Sanders CAN – Has to fix his swim. He’ll likely ride like a bat out of hell, but making up 10 minutes out of the water will likely cost him dearly on the run.
12 Matt Hanson USA – A sentimental favorite of mine. He won the North American Champs, but did it from a 10 minute deficit to Joe Skipper off the bike. He has to show he can swim better, because the leaders will put him away early if he doesn’t. He needs a really hot run to claw through the field. If he gets that, I think a top 10 will be possible.
14 Marino Vanhoenacker BEL – No one can say Marino doesn’t leave it all out there. He has blown up late in an Ironman on a number of occasions, so that’s almost come to be expected as this point. BUT, If his head is right, he has the talent to be fighting for the win. The “I quit Kona”, “I’m coming out of Kona retirement” (in less than a year) thing has me wondering if the pressure is off a bit and he has a great day.
17 Tim Don GBR – Rookie Kona race. At 37 and former Olympian, he has the skills, but needs some Kona experience.
21 Timothy O’Donnell USA – He’s got the talent to podium or even win, but last year fell apart on the run. If he puts it all together he could be the top American and in the hunt for a podium.
24 Ivan Rana ESP – Great runner, but lost 28 minutes to Kienle last year on the bike. 28. Twenty Eight. XXVIII. Has to ride faster and run his arse off to crack top 10.
26 Joe Skipper GBR -I honestly don’t know where to put this guy. Super talented, super nice, and has won at the distance. Got out of the water next to Hanson at Texas, but then threw down a 4:10 bike. If he can get to dry land quick enough he could be in the first group off the bike. But if he’s trying to make up a minute on Kienle on the ride, then he could be walking on the Queen K. A smart race and cooler temps puts him in the top 10 I think.
28 Eneko Llanos ESP – “It is a dream, but really hard to make it real. I want to happy with my performance and feel I did my best. I’d be happy with top 10.” -Eneko Llanos –  That’s all you need to know.
35 Andreas Raelert GER – Man oh man. One of my favorite races to watch, second to Ironwar, was Raelert and Macca duking it out. He has the talent. He’s proven the podium. Every year though since the Macca battle, it seems something has derailed the season. DNF in Texas as he was set up nicely to win it. I hope he puts another one together, because it sure would be fun to see some gutsy racing from him.
36 Luke McKenzie AUS – My gut says resurgence on Saturday. He’s grabbed an Ironman this year and is in good shape. But he’s got a family now, which is often the kiss of death for the top pro men. If he doesn’t reclaim his old self this year then he won’t. Worth following on Instagram though.
50 Maik Twelsiek GER – Crushed the bike last year, and was less than a minute off the top ten. If he can get out of the water quicker, I expect to see him on TV for the return trip from Hawi, but needs a quicker run to hang on to a top 10 spot.
58 Justin Daerr USA -I’m just not sure how well his swim has progressed. He’s another sentimental favorite being a Texas boy (and former Aggie if I recall). He’s got the bike and run skills to get him there, but like some of the others, if he misses the train out of town, he’s gonna have a helluva time trying to get back into the fight.
 Women – This is a much simpler equation. The women’s field has gotten a little deeper over the years, but it’s still spread out and leaves only a few left in the hunt for the win. (16 minutes separated the top 11 men, that same 16 minutes accounted for 6 women) Those few would be Rinny, Ryf, Steffen, Cave and Naeth, with Joyce and Swallow in the hunt. Leanda had a horrible race last year, but this year seems to be racing well, and as a former champ, I can’t count her out. No need for the full breakdown of each person here, as some of the speedy swimmers like Haley Chura and Jody Swallow will lead everyone out of town, but once they turn off of the Queen for the climb to Hawi, It will be all about the runners keeping the cyclists as close as possible. If Ryf, Naeth and Steffen and make good time on the bike, then I can see Ryf with the win and Naeth putting up a good fight with her. But it’s gotta be substantial because if they can’t, well, then you’re gonna see the Rinny train plow over people for her 4th. And as much time as Rinny made up on the run last year, keep in mind she still crossed the line WITH A 2 MINUTE BUFFER. As I see it, it will be #1 Carfrae #2 Ryf #3 Naeth #4 Cave #5 Joyce #6 Steffen.
Of course Carfrae could get hit by a car before the race (Oh wait, that already happened) or Jan could get sick (hasn’t happened), so your guess is as good as mine. Enjoy the big day and good luck to everyone!
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *