Sebastian Kienle has had many eyes on him, but maybe more so now as the 2018 IRONMAN World Championships are almost upon us. He chatted with us about what can be expected on Saturday and also shared his views on related topics.
Slowtwitch: Is all well in Hawaii?
Sebastian Kiene: There is always something to complain about, but I am well.
ST: When did you arrive?
Sebi: Just as in previous years I traveled here 4.5 weeks before the race.
ST: Is it still relatively calm or has the storm arrived?
Sebi: The storm arrived indeed, and I now have to get used at the pool to unfriendly Europeans who jump in the lane without asking.
ST: Is it only the Europeans who jump in the pool, and if so how do you know that?
Sebi: Yeah. I know because when I scream at them in English they answer in French.
ST: What is still on your schedule until race day?
Sebi: I have 2 or 3 harder but shorter units left, but otherwise it is all about interviews, drinking coffee and getting nervous.
ST: Do you still get nervous? Or does that depend on the race?
Sebi: Of course always nervous, if you’re not getting nervous that either means you have no clue what’s coming or you don’t care anymore. The day I‘m not feeling nervous anymore here would be my last day doing this race
ST: Alexander Vinokurov is also at the start in Kona. Will you ask him for an autograph or take a selfie with him?
Sebi: You know what’s really sad about that is, that when I just started triathlon Vinu was my absolute hero. He either attacked when he was allowed to, or he was this very unselfish domestique. A couple of years later and finally the shit hit the van in Germany (Team Telekom). I‘m really happy that I never tried to become a pro cyclist and I had no more role models in sport after that day. Doping destroys everything, just look at Jan Ulrich. Imagine a (sport) world without it. It could have been wonderful. Those guys destroyed everything.
ST: Your last training block in Europe was in Italy. What did you do and how did it go?
Sebi: I was happy with the high elevation training, and that was the first time I did that in about 8 years. In terms of the elevation I however can’t tell if that really made the difference. The most important thing was that I could focus on most important stuff and I very much enjoyed the training with Bradley Weiss.
ST: With Jan Frodeno and Boris Stein not at the start, does that have an impact on your race?
Sebi: Surely, in my view Jan would have been the clear favorite and the only one in the position strong enough to win the race under any tactical and climate conditions. The race is now very open, and thus there will be more folks willing to take a risk. For me it is important on one hand to gain an advantage on the bike over the top runners such as Patrick, Javier and McNamee, but not give up all my bullets so I have enough power left for a run battle with Lionel.
ST: Were you surprised when you learned about Jan withdrawing from Kona?
Sebi: I spoke with Jan before he made it public. An injury like this often comes out of nowhere. From the outside it all looks so perfect ...
ST: Does that mean more pressure on you?
Sebi: If so, I am not really feeling it. Plus the pressure to beat Jan is not exactly small.
ST: How do you see the men’s race developing?
Sebi: To keep it short, I think there will be a group with very strong cyclists, who will start the run in a very select group, plus there will be a group of strong runners who also will start the run in a compact group, and then there will be big fireworks.
ST: What about the females?
Sebi: I doubt anyone is betting seriously against Daniela, but Lucy should not be underestimated, and many favorites have previously struggled in Hawaii. I also would not count out Rinny, including at the very top.
ST: Is there anything else?
Sebi: Every year it is the same. I wished that all the athletes who come to this island would show about more respect to other competitors, the volunteers and the locals.
All images © Talbot Cox who also did this very nice video below with Sebastian Kienle.