Tomorrow’s Zwift Tri Battle Royale will see Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders duel it out for bragging rights and a new world record.

Two of triathlon’s biggest stars will go head-to-head tomorrow to prove their dominance at the Zwift Tri Battle Royale. Jan Frodeno, 2008 Olympic Champion and three-time Kona winner, takes on Lionel Sanders, one of the sport’s most fearsome competitors, over the full iron distance in Allgau, Germany.

There’s full live coverage of the event beginning at 8:15am CET, so you can watch every second of what should be a thrilling contest. We take a look at the course and the athletes’ palmares to get you ready for the race tomorrow.

Zwift Tri Battle Royale Course

As race-day has loomed, more and more details have emerged about how the course will be set for speed while still respecting the fundamentals of the race – no drafting and no pacemakers.

The 3.8km swim in Grossen Alpsee Lake features four laps with rounded corners, lane ropes and even talk of an underwater rope to guide the route – meaning no sighting strokes to slow down the pair as they swim.

On the bike, a flat, fast 180km course over five loops, speed will be maintained at the turnaround point with the ‘Canyon Turn’. This banked corner, much like a velodrome, is a 75m long wooden structure, which the athletes will be able to ride into at around 45km/h. Made especially for the Zwift Tri Battle Royale, the 4.5m high construction took 300 hours to build, uses 10.5 cubic metres of wood and is held together with 1,900 screws!

The full marathon run features four 10.55km circuits to make up the 42.2km distance and has virtually zero elevation change, allowing both Frodeno and Sanders to get into their groove and stay on pace.

The Athletes

Of course, no matter how fast the course might be, it will still take a monumental effort to break Frodeno’s current world record of 7:35:39, which the German set in Challenge Roth in 2016. Here’s how both athletes stack up.

Jan Frodeno

Tri Battle Royale - Jan Frodeno
Jan Frodeno is quite simply the king of long-course triathlon. (Photo: Tri Battle)

However you look at it, Jan Frodeno is one of the greatest triathletes of all time. The 39-year-old German, who’s ranked as the PTO World #1, took gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in a thrilling sprint finish that continues to raise goosebumps on repeat viewings.

After success at the pinnacle of short-course racing and another great performance with sixth at the London 2012 Games, Frodeno turned his attention to longer events.

The first of many victories came in 2014 at IM 70.3 Auckland, while Frodeno’s neo-pro long-course season also saw the German take second at the 70.3 worlds and third in Hawaii, where mechanicals scuppered his chances of taking a rookie Kona victory.

In 2015, Jan stepped things up to another level going undefeated to take his first Ironman title in Frankfurt before the big one in Kona. In fact, since winning 70.3 Oceanside in March that year, Frodeno has won all but two of the events he’s completed.

Nothing’s stopped the German from taking three Ironman World Championship titles, two 70.3 world champs and that all-important iron-distance world record of 7:35:39, from Roth 2016.

While he’s dominated in Kona, perhaps his most impressive victory was the 70.3 worlds in 2018 where he out-swam, out-biked and outran fellow Olympic medallists Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez – a race that will be remembered as one of triathlon’s greatest-ever battles. It’s that sort of pushing to the line we’re looking forward to in tomorrow’s race.

Looking at his stats, Frodeno has scored 14 Ironman 70.3 wins and eight iron-distance wins. He’s a three-time Ironman World Champion and two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion.

Lionel Sanders

Tri Battle Royale - Lionel Sanders (Talbot Cox)
No pro triathlete has the ability to embrace the suffer like Lionel Sanders. (Photo: Talbot Cox)

Ranked PTO World #3, Sanders’ entry to the world of triathlon couldn’t be more different from Frodeno’s. As explored in the PTO’s Beyond Human documentary, Sanders embraced triathlon as a recovering drug addict and has risen to become one of the sport’s fiercest and most respected athletes.

The Canadian’s first Ironman win came at Florida in 2014 and a slew of victories have followed, with Sanders showing an incredible aptitude to suffer harder than any of his competitors. That do-or-die mindset combined with extraordinary bike and run speed has made him the most feared come-from-behind athlete in the business – and rewarded him with a list of palmares that would be the envy of many pros.

He secured the ITU Long Distance World Championship on home soil in 2017 and also took the first two editions of Challenge The Championship, where he battled hard with Sebastian Kienle on both occasions.

Sanders came closest to tasting Kona victory in 2017, coming second to Patrick Lange (Europe #3 / PTO World #7) in a year where Frodeno’s back pain caused the defending champion to walk the marathon.

Checking his resume, Sanders is a standout athlete at the 70.3 distance with 23 wins under his belt. He’s also got four Ironman titles but has faced plenty of challenges when it comes to nutrition – not least at Ironman Coeur d’Alene just three weeks ago.

Sanders has made clear he considers Frodeno the greatest of all time – but whether that makes the Canadian defer to the German or only drive harder to take the win will be one question that’s answered this weekend.

How Will It Play Out?

Sanders’ swim might have improved dramatically during his ‘Stop Sucking At Swimming’ YouTube series, but Frodeno is a cert to get out the water first.

While the German is a beast on the bike, Sanders could be that little bit more beastly – especially considering he’ll be racing in a much cooler climate than he’s used to. He won’t have to surge past a whole line of athletes to get to the front either, meaning he can set his own pace – something he proved himself adept at in his Canadian Hour Record attempt.

If Lionel can catch Jan on the bike, they’ll be starting the run together. While Frodeno’s run-split history shows faster times than Sanders, no-one can punish themselves like the Canadian. Whether he digs deep enough to take the win himself or purely pushes Jan out his comfort zone like we’ve not seen before, a world record would certainly be on the cards.

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