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Jul 20, 2021 Canyon.com

Tri-Battle Royale: Two Kings, One World Record

Jul 20, 2021 Canyon.com

We uncover how the race was won between two of triathlon’s best athletes, Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders.

Tri-Battle Royale: Two Kings, One World Record Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders' Speedmax CFRs stand side-by-side in Allgäu.

What happens when you put two of the world’s best triathletes next to each other for the ultimate showdown? On Sunday 18th July 2021, we found out who has what it takes to take the crown of the inaugural triathlon contest.

After a year of infrequent racing, Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders decided it was time to go head-to-head. Alongside their sponsors, of which Canyon is one, they created the Tri-Battle Royale.

The two athletes made their way to Allgäu, Germany which sits at the foot of the German Alps. It was the perfect arena for a battle between two kings as the mountains looked menacingly upon these two humans about to put their bodies and bikes to the test.

Frodeno entered the race as the current long distance triathlon world record holder from his performance at Challenge Roth back in 2016 with a time of 7:35:39. Rumours had been swirling in the lead up to the event that he would try to better this in Allgäu.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Wet weather made conditions treacherous on the day

The Triathletes

You may have heard their names but what do you know about Jan and Lionel?

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021

Jan Frodeno

The 39-year-old German now calls Girona, Spain home. He’s taken victory at Kona 3 times and is the reigning world champion. Not only that, he holds the triathlon world record. Despite this incredible success, he remains humble and channels any extra energy into inspiring others and helping them achieve their dreams.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021

Lionel Sanders

The Canadian powerhouse came to triathlon a little later than most. Having fallen into an unhealthy lifestyle both physically and mentally during his time at university, Lionel decided to turn his life around. He’s now won multiple Ironman events and won the ITU Long Distance World Championships back in 2017. He’s renowned for his intense training sessions where he pushes his limits far beyond expectation.

The Course

As a full-distance triathlon, Jan and Lionel swam 3.8 km in the waters of Großer Alpsee in Immenstadt. After swimming four laps of the course, they made their way through the first transition zone.

A 180 km bike ride awaited. On board their Speedmax CFRs, they pushed their pedals along the Allgäu Valley for around four hours before landing themselves in transition two.

Finally, as all triathlons end, they laced up for the final sprint to the finish line. Of course, by sprint we actually mean 42.2 km (a full marathon) of pain and endurance as the world’s best chase each other down in the name of glory.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Transition 1 complete with custom bike stands for both athletes

The Result

Conditions were far less than perfect after a difficult week for Germany: high volumes of rain flooded parts of the country around Canyon's home state of Rheinland-Palatinate and Nordrhein-Westphalia. Despite being 500 km south, the effects were still felt around Allgäu and the race day remained wet.

Frodeno and Sanders dived into the Großer Alpsee lake to start the clock ticking at 09:00 CEST. As was expected, Jan Frodeno started as he meant to go on: fast. Frodeno surfaced first in a blistering time of 45:58 while Sanders emerged exactly five minutes later.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Canyon Turn was constructed to keep the speed at the turnaround point of the bike leg

As the bike partner of both athletes we created a bespoke stand for both bikes, so that Frodeno and Sanders only had to secure their helmet, mount their Speedmax CFR machines and pedal. We also constructed a fully customised cockpit for Jan Frodeno which involved a monocoque aerobar. You’ll be able to add the same mono-aerobar to your own Speedmax from next year! Since Lionel already had his position dialled using the standard cockpit, he decided to stick to what he knew on his mean, green triathlon machine.

The bike leg was 5 laps of a 36 km course. At the halfway point of the course was the Canyon Turn, a kind of velodrome banking to help Frodeno and Sanders maintain their speed as they continued back towards the finish of each lap.

Frodeno rode at an average of 305 Watts to complete the 180 km ride in 3:55:22, the fastest time ever for a 180 km bike leg during a long-distance triathlon. Sanders was hot on his (w)heels and punched out an average of 312 Watts for the duration of the bike leg, but came in just a few seconds over four hours.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Jan Frodeno runs the final marathon of the long-distance triathlon

And then the marathon.

Just 42.2 km remained but with both riders and the rain continued to pour. Unfortunately for Frodeno, he slipped hard on the first corner taking a hit on his hip. He got up almost as quickly as he fell to shake it out, but it was clear he was in a bit of pain. Nevertheless, Frodeno needed to run a 2:51 marathon to beat his own world record.

Sanders set his pace for the marathon, however in the post-race interview he confessed he went out a little harder than he should have. Despite efforts to improve his nutrition strategy in the months leading up to this battle, Sanders suffered and he slipped even further back.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Jan Frodeno completes the Tri-Battle Royale in a world record time of 7:27:46

Frodeno emerged victorious as he grabbed the finish line ribbon with both hands and raised it above his hand to celebrate an incredible feat of endurance, resilience, skill and out-and-out strength.

We are so proud of both Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders. They both delivered outstanding performances during the Tri-Battle and in doing so have inspired generations of athletes around the world. If you missed the coverage, you can replay all the action from the day here.

Jan Frodeno & Lionel Sanders Tri-Battle Royale 2021 Celebrations for both athletes for getting round Tri-Battle on a really tough day in the office

That was so hard, that was so unbelievably hard

Jan Frodeno

Tri Battle Race Splits

Jan Frodeno Lionel Sanders
Swim 45:58 50:58
T1 00:59 00:39
Bike 3:55:22 4:00:26
T2 1:13 00:58
Run 2:44:21 2:50:31
Finish 7:27:53 7:43:28

Congratulations

We are so proud of both Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders. They both delivered outstanding performances during the Tri-Battle and in doing so have inspired generations of athletes around the world. If you missed the coverage, you can replay all the action from the day here.

Mark Wallace
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