Frodeno, Sanders to Race Mano a Mano in Germany

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have elected to fight in Germany, on the 18th of July upcoming. Strike that. It’s Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders trading punches, but who could fault my mistake? First, the details, then the spectacle.

This Zwift-titled event will take place in the Allgäu region of Germany which is, bar none (according to me), the single most beautiful spot on the earth where human beings live. This region has always rolled out the red carpet for triathlon, and has glass-smooth roads ideal for this effort, which is an attempt to set a world-best-time over the Full Distance, with the added color of a match race. The bike leg will be staged over a loop the athletes circle five times, immediately after a four-lap swim in Grossen Alpsee Lake. The marathon-distance run will be contested on a four-lap circuit.

All long distance international triathlon rules will be adhered to: no drafting, no illegal tactics, no outside support or pacemakers. What makes a fast time a little easier to imagine is the time saved in transitions (no circling the bike racks on foot).

What about coverage? What is promised is a live broadcast that, "will last over eight hours and will be a showcase of these two great athletes in action. The broadcast will also feature the unique imagery and picturesque surroundings of this ‘postcard’ German region as well as esteemed guests, expert panelists, first class analytics and, of course, virtual components. Further details will be announced in the next four weeks."

As to the analytics. Frodeno has been famously reticent to share in-race data but has agreed to do so, as he put it, this one and only time.

As to the "virtual components" mentioned in the presser: This event is entitled the "Zwift Tri Battle Royale," and one might wonder what Zwift has to do with it, since it's an actual, not virtual, event. First, some data on Zwift and these two athletes. As Zwift is primarily a cycling platform, one might think that popular Zwift cycling personalities like Geraint Thomas or Mathieu Van Der Poel far outpace triathletes in popularity. In fact, the two most followed personalities on Zwift are Frodeno, with 29,721 followers, with Sanders second at 28,566 followers. They have maxed out their bike levels on Zwift @level 50 (as has Lucy Charles among the women, who also owns a huge Zwift following).

That is not all. I understand that Zwift is exploring the possibility of an actual event simulcast in-game, with avatars representing the two athletes, with the capacity for Zwifters to jump in and ride along (for as long as they can). But this is not announced or promised; it's a coding moonshot, and maybe it will happen.

The Smacktalk: The last several weeks begin to make more sense. Sanders calling out Frodeno, offering to pay his way to race IRONMAN Couer d'Alene. Yesterday's "weigh in" on Zwift, where the two athletes traded barbs during a ride accompanied by hundreds of their followers. Well played, gents!

All of this having been revealed, spectators should probably not expect a race to the death by Sanders at Couer d'Alene. He's yet to punch his Kona ticket, which is the point of attending that race. But with only a few weeks between CDA and the Thrilla in the Allgäu, Sanders will probably need to swallow his pride and treat CDA as a prelim, not a final.

More to come.