Sebastian Kienle talks strategy

Sebastian Kienle dominated the bike at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas and that charge was enough to hold off the super runners like Craig Alexander for the victory. Amidst speculation he might be the inheritor of the German uberbiker persona at Kona and try to steal the race on the bike, the emerging under-30 Ironman star seems to take a more patient approach.

Slowtwitch: Greg Welch says you showed us in Las Vegas the kind of charge to the front on the bike seen by Jurgen Zack, Normann Stadler, Thomas Hellriegel.

Sebastian Kienle: I am not out to break the bike record. I don’t want to go all out in this longer race. I hope I would hold a little back.

ST: Craig Alexander says that if you are on your game, no one can ride with you here in Kona. At this point in your career, how fast can you run?

Sebastian: My fastest Ironman marathon is 2:52. This is my 5th Ironman and my first time here. So, I don't want to guess what I am capable of here. On a half Ironman, I think I am not a slow runner. If I am not going for it on the bike I could run a 1:12 on a 70.3 course. So there is some potential in my run. I am very fit and I could also go sub 2:50 here. But that's is just a guess and it could go the other way.

ST: You have great bike talent and if you push it, do you have the opportunity to start the run with a 5 to 10 minute lead?

Sebastian You're right -- if it is my goal to win the race. But that would require a 10 minute lead and I'd have to run a 2:52 or something like that. A top 10 finish is a more realistic goal.

ST: If you do get a big lead like Stadler, Chris Lieto or Torbjorn Sindballe, how fast must the chasers run to take you down?

Sebastian: Of course some people are talking about running a sub-2:40 or something like that. But there is maybe only one guy who is capable of doing it. And he is the winner normally. So for me if I have a good bike and run sub-3 hours and it is good enough for a top 10.

ST: If you bike near 4:18, that seems like a VERY modest expectation?
Sebastian Of course they are saying this is the strongest men's field ever. It is like this every year.

ST: Do you see yourself running the type of race Normann Stadler did in 2006?

Sebastian If I could do this I am happy. It would be nice. But you can't transform the performance of a 70.3 race [his victory at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas in September] into an Ironman. It's a lot about the other guys. If they want to try [to let a very strong cyclist take a big lead ] again, they are welcome to do it. If they want to give me a 15 minute lead, I don’t have anything against it. Then we'll try [to win]. But I don't think this will happen. There are other guys who have to go hard on the bike and make a lead. After the bike Saturday, I might expect Jordan Rapp or Ronnie Schildknecht to be at the front. But we will see.

ST: If the race did evolve that way, how might it play out?

Sebastian: It's not like the past years when there was only one guy off the front [on the bike]. So this time it is maybe a little bit different. Also if there is a wind that is supposed to come, [especially a predominantly side wind] it will benefit the strong cyclists. But you never know here. We will see. First of all I have to catch the front group [after the swim]. Then we could talk.

ST: Could your being off the front slow down people's runs later because they expended so much energy trying to stay with you?

Sebastian It depends. If they try to follow us on the bike, maybe they will not have enough to left to run 2:40. If they could run 2:40 after a bike like that, then maybe they could finish in 7 hours 40 minutes. But I don't think that will happen. Of course when you go faster on the bike, you can't run as fast.