Sebastian Kienle had already shown his stuff in Europe and thus people there were somewhat familiar with him. He also has competed in North America before, but it was his recent win in New Orleans that put him really on the map. Slowtwitch had a few words with the man with the big smile and superb bike speed.
Slowtwitch: How was your trip back to Germany?
Sebastian: Thank you, with some good memories the trip is always easier. The problem is, I can’t sleep on a plane, I don’t know why, but I think I will have to learn it. The trip was longer than expected because I had to go to the press conference for Challenge Roth the next day – so 6 more hours in the car.
ST: Did you have a hard time finding space in your bags for your 70.3 New Orleans trophy and all the other gear you acquired while in the USA?
Sebastian: The biggest issue was the new aero helmet. I was forced to buy one because of the rule about the CPSC norm. They have to think over this. I always travel with too much free space, because I always forget something. This time I forgot to bring some non-sponsor branded t-shirts with me, so I represented Scott not only in the race and on the podium but also in the clubs on Bourbon Street.
ST: Your campaign in the USA started with Texas 70.3, but while 7th place in that field wasn't really shabby, the race seemingly didn't go the way you wanted.
Sebastian: Right, I was very upset with my swimming performance. I had improved very much during the winter and I couldn’t prove it in the first race. But things got even worse. I had made a mistake putting my bike together and when I jumped on it in T1, the tire was rubbing on the frame. I tried to fix the problem by adjusting the rear wheel but it didn’t work out. So I had to stop two more times to let air out of the rear tire. Then I lost my nutrition and my focus on the race was gone. I know I am able to run sub 1:14, but I didn’t push myself anymore. I was very upset and angry with myself. Tim O'Donnell showed why you should never give up in a race, he didn’t have a good day on the bike but he didn’t resign, he pushed himself onto the podium. Big respect for this!
ST: Going to New Orleans, did you really want to prove something to others and yourself?
Sebastian: Of course, sometimes you have a bad day and a bad result, that’s nothing to worry about. But I hate myself if I give it up. Place 7th in Texas would have been ok for me, if it had been my very best on this day, but it wasn’t. Sometimes you lose because there is a better athlete out there and that is nothing to be sad about. But I am racing to show my very best.
ST: Do you think you raced your very best in New Orleans?
Sebastian: Until mile 9 on the run it was my best on this day. Then I realized that I was in the lead with more than five minutes. Then I got information about Dirk Bockel, the only factor that I wasn't sure about, I was told that he is not in the top five at the moment. So I slowed down a bit and eased the pain. I need a head to head battle to give my very best.
ST: You won the race, but mentioned that you would have preferred for it to be a triathlon.
Sebastian: Sure, I wanted to prove to myself that my swim performance is better than what I showed in Galveston. But it raised my chances to win the race by 100%. I know that my bike run combination with a time trail start like this is maybe the best in the world.
ST: You were able to run down quite a few Pros in front of you with that TT start, but did you actually know where you were in terms of position?
Sebastian: Because of the two turnarounds I could see that I cut off a lot of time to the guys in front. At the end I caught the 20 guys that started in front of me except for Terenzo Bozzone. But I tried to go hard on the first half of the run because Dirk Bockel even had a higher starting number. On days like this you can feel it that you are unbeatable. You don’t need a clock to know that you are fast.
ST: Who was mostly on your radar that day?
Sebastian: After the swim got cancelled it was Terenzo, Paul Amey and Tim O'Donnell. I was not sure about TJ Tollakson.
ST: We had a closer look at your bike recently and we were surprised to not see a power meter *. Why not? Because we certainly would like to see the data.
Sebastian: I just wrote a blog on my website about this issue. You want to see the data, but I don’t need to see it. In training the power meter didn’t help me, it forced me to go harder every ride because I wanted to beat the average watts from the last ride. With this thing on my bike I was acting like a high score hunting computer kid, I can’t handle it. In a race I don’t need it. I like to listen to my body and not to a machine.
ST: You beat Michael Raelert at 70.3 Wiesbaden in 2009 and he returned the favor in 2010. Will the race in Heilbronn be the tiebreaker?
Sebastian: For me Michael is the most talented guy I know. It is very nice to compete against him, because he defines the world class. If you could beat him you could beat everybody. It’s gonna be a year with a few duels with the Raelert Brothers. At Challenge Kraichgau, Challenge Roth versus Andi and hopefully in 70.3 Wiesbaden and at the 70.3 Worlds again against Michael. I like the brothers, they are not only strong athletes but also good sportsmen.
ST: With quite a few Challenge races on your calendar it appears that you don't have Kona on your mind, at least not this year.
Sebastian: That’s right. Maybe I do a late ironman this year to qualify for Kona 2012. I did my first full distance last year. Long distance triathlon is a hard business and I love it. But it destroys you if you want too much. Compared to the average age of the Kona top 10 I am still a little kid.
ST: Will you even have time to race XTERRA races this year?
Sebastian: It depends of my energy at the end of the season. I really like XTERRA, it is very honest. But I don’t want to go there with only 90%.
ST: You have a new bike sponsor with Scott, what else is new on the sponsor front?
Sebastian: I am pretty happy with Scott. I signed a 3-year contract with them. I am very picky when it comes to bike gear, so I am happy to have Shimano as a sponsor, the DI2 fits the plasma just perfectly. As last year I go with powerbar, as my nutrition in Roth was nearly perfect, not only in the race. Biestmilch not only helps me with their products to prevent flus and other nasty stuff but also helps me with their team and contacts. It is great to have athletes like Macca, Ronnie Schildknecht and Terenzo on the team. I also stayed with 2XU. They support me since I had my first good races. I hope to present a new main sponsor before the big races. Hannes Blaschke from Hannes Hawaii tours helps me with this. He and Marc Wenz are not only my management but also good friends. Hannes got 4th in Kona 1985 and I celebrated my first birthday around those days. So he knows what he is talking about.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Sebastian: To say it in T’s words: can’t catch me? Follow me on twitter. Its in English for all the non German speakers in the world…
You can follow Sebastian on twitter: @SebastianKienle
and on his website: SebastianKienle.de
* The bike featured in the first picture is not how Sebastian rides it now. He swapped bars and cranks.