We’re at the 21st Ironman Lanzarote and it looks set to be scorcher both in terms of the weather and the race. In the men’s event our money is on Belgium’s Bert Jammaer. He has won here twice before and narrowly missed out on becoming the first male pro to win three times when crossed the line second by less than two minutes in 2010.
Jammaer said: “I’m totally focused and ready for tomorrow. It’s one of the best organised races and it’s totally unique with an amazing atmosphere.”
Great Britain’s Phil Graves, the youngest ever Ironman winner, returns after not finishing the race in 2010 when he rode like a demon but faded and dropped out early in the run. He looks leaner and lighter than ever, and more importantly seems to be approaching the race from a far more sensible perspective.
Graves said: “I’m more prepared coming into this race than any other Ironman. I don’t plan to hit the bike as hard as last time and want to do an intelligent race. It’s more important that I finish than smash everyone to pieces in the first 40K of the bike. I want to finish and get through the race in decent shape because I want to race Ironman Austria and New York. Hopefully I’ll come out of the other end alive.”
Another man to look out for is rising Danish star Esben Hovgaard who came third here last year. We have seen him deliver consistent results over the past year and he races well in the heat. Plus he spends a lot of time training here.
Hovgaard said: “It’s going to be tougher this year with some faster guys here. The important thing when racing here is mental strength because you spend a lot of time alone and need to be confident in your own pace.”
When it comes to rest of the field Great Britain’s Daniel Halksworth is one to watch. This will be his first Ironman and after making the top 10 at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and coming second to Rasmus Henning at the recent Half Challenge Fuerteventura he certainly comes into the race with good form. Expect to see our dark horse lead out the swim before delivering a strong bike and run. Others to look out for include two-time Ironman winner Stephen Bayliss from Great Britain, Estonia’s Kirill Kotsegarov, Petr Vasbrousek from the Czech Republic and Great Britain’s Oliver Simon
In the women’s race our money is on rising Danish triathlete Michelle Vesterby who was ninth in a stacked field at Ironman Melbourne in March. We expect to see a confident Vesterby first out of the water before delivering a strong bike and solid run.
Vesterby said: “I’m really confident about the race and I’m here to win. The biggest challenge will be the run. I will probably be the first out of the swim and hopefully the first out on to the run course as well. My plan is to be in the front from the start to the end.”
It’s exciting to see the return of Scotland’s Bella Bayliss who took a break while she had a baby. She’s won 15 Ironman races including two at Lanzarote in 2008 and 2009. Bayliss proved she’s back on form when she delivered a solid race at the recent Challenge Fuerteventura event despite being ill and in our opinion is stronger over the full Ironman distance.
Bayliss said: “I’m feeling good but racing is different now with a baby. There are more important things to be thinking about now and we’re busy, but we’re organised and everything is working well.”
Other women to look out for include Holland’s Heleen Bij de Vaate who came second here last year and Katja Meyers from the USA who was fifth at Ironman Wisconsin in 2011. We wish all of the competitors a great day.