Jan Frodeno wins ZWIFT Tri Battle Royale (Allgäu, Germany) in a new world record time (7:27:53)

Jan Frodeno smashed his own world record in a time of 7:27:53 in what was a duel of superlatives. A head-to-head competition, dramatic until the very end. The ZWIFT Tri Battle Royale in the Allgäu lived up to its much-acclaimed promise.

Fotograf: Joern Pollex

In the duel between the German Olympic Gold Medallist and 3 x Hawaii champion Jan Frodeno and his Canadian challenger Lionel Sanders, the world champion stopped the clock after 7 hours 27 minutes and 53 seconds. Jan Frodeno\s recently conceived ‘pandemic’ duel clearly won, but not without causing a moment of shock itself.

This unique event not only caused drama and tension with difficult weather conditions, but also set a new world record for a full distance triathlon. This previous best performance of 7:35:39 hours was set by Frodeno himself at the Challenge Roth in 2016.

Fotograf: Joern Pollex

These two triathlon superstars competed against one another in the classic long distance triathlon. A 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run.

The start took place against a dramatic backdrop, the thick clouds hung low over the Großer Alpsee near Immenstadt in the Allgäu and blocked the picturesque views of the Alps.

Covid-19 restrictions meant only a few spectators were allowed to watch the event live while others watched from the comfort of their home, with live coverage screened all race. Announcer Daniel Unger, himself world champion on the short distance, got the audience in the mood for the upcoming race, while the team of moderators around Paul Kaye, Helle Frederiksen, Til Schenk and Melek Balgün provided the viewers with information and insights on the live stream.

After the starting shot at 9am, the duo of Frodeno and Sanders jumped from a specially installed swimming platform into the cool water of the Großer Alpsee, in which a total of four

laps had to be mastered with a water temperature of 19 degrees. The swim course, like the rest of the course, was set up for a record time and included underwater lines throughout for better orientation.

After only few swim strokes, Frodeno had already gained the lead over his opponent Sanders in the water. After a third of the swimming distance, the rest of the race was set: Frodeno in front, Sanders in pursuit.

And so the Cologne-born athlete was the first to get out of the water after 45 minutes and 58 seconds and missed his own swim best of 2016 by just 18 seconds. Exactly 5 minutes later – with a time of 50:58 minutes – Sanders also reached the shores of the Großer Alpsee.

During the subsequent transition, the aggressive Canadian, who achieved a career best in swimming, had already made up a few seconds. While Frodeno dropped his aero helmet when switching to his bike and then lost a few more seconds straightening his visor, the change was much smoother for Lionel Sanders. Only a few seconds after Sanders had left the Großer Alpsee, he took the road under the wheels and set off in pursuit of Frodeno.

The hope that it would at least stay dry on this cool day in July had vanished into thin air after the first few kilometers of the bike. At around 11am, after just 60 of the 180 kilometers by bike, the weather made it unmistakably clear that it would not let up for these two top athletes would not feel sorry for them. It was pouring rain.

After lap 1 of the 5 lap bike course, the power meter showed 311 watts for Frodeno and 313 watts for Sanders. With a view to the upcoming World Championships in October, every turn of the crank was a hint to the international competition as to what top form these two exceptional talents, Frodeno and Sanders, are currently in.

The bike course was also designed for maximum speed. Unlike the usual route of the Allgäu Triathlon, passages with high vertical metres were eliminated in order to make the course fast. The athletes completed a large part on the autobahn-like, closed B19, which also contained the “Canyon Turn”, a specially constructed turning point. The 75m long and 4.5m high wooden structure was developed by a specialized Allgäu company and enabled a constant high speed on every lap.

On the first half of the bike course Frodeno felt at ease and after 100 kilometers he was able to extend his lead to 7:29 minutes. Subsequently, however, Sanders made the duel exciting again. Frodeno was increasingly struggling with the cold, so that his challenger reduced the lead to just over five minutes for the first time since he started the bike leg.

At the end of the 180 kilometers, Frodeno’s watch stopped after less than 4 hours. In 3:55 hours and with an average of 45 km / h, he completed the bike course faster than his opponent Sanders and faster than his previous world record five years ago. Frodeno’s course at this point was clearly geared towards world records.

Sanders also undercut his previous best bike performance, entering T2 in 4:01 hours, but had to accept a gap of a good eight minutes at the end of the second discipline.

On the first of the four laps, Frodeno immediately continued where he had started at 9 o’clock in the morning. He also dominated the last discipline in this long-distance duel from the start. Even a fall after 10 kilometres, in which Frodeno found himself on the Allgäu soil that had become slippery from the continuous rain, could not stop him.

Fotograf: Joern Pollex

Although the 1.94m tall model athlete had to hobble a few steps after his mishap, he quickly resumed the world record speed after passing through the stadium in Burgberg. “The fall was good and distracted me from my bad back pain, which I had at the time,” Frodeno joked later at the finish.

With clockwork precision, Frodeno completed the marathon. He was only slightly slower in the second half of the marathon and in the start-to-finish victory.

His rival Lionel Sanders crossed the finish line in 7:43:28 hours and just undercut his old best time.

Fotograf: Joern Pollex

The 39-year-old Frodeno described himself after the race as “broken” by the rigours of the world record. “It was so incredibly hard, but also just amazing because you never look up and you just have to be consistently as fast as possible”. “Can I finally have a chair now?” was the only wish of the old and new world record holder.

Completely out of breath, he still had words of praise for his opponent. “Lionel is a great athlete who has pushed me further and further over the last two years and who was on for a world record here for a long time, which many people certainly did not expect of him.

Second-placed Sanders paid the greatest respect to his opponent, describing the ZWIFT Tri Battle Royale as the opportunity of a lifetime, adding that “it was an honour for him to compete today against his role model Jan Frodeno.”

In advance, Frodeno had expressed himself unsure whether the course would be fast enough for a world beating time. In the end, he gave everyone the answer: a new world record.

Fotograf: Joern Pollex

About Jan Frodeno

Jan Frodeno is a professional German triathlete who lives and trains in Girona, Spain. Frodeno is 3 x Ironman® World Champion (Kona) 2019, 2016 and 2015 and 2008 an Olympic gold medalist. In 2016, Frodeno broke the Iron distance World Record by 6 minutes, setting a new record time of 7:35:39. He is also the current Kona course record holder with a time of 7:51:13.

About Lionel Sanders

Lionel Sanders is a four time Ironman® Champion and 30 time Ironman® 70.3 Champion. He has won the ITU Long Course World Championships and has finished 2nd at the Ironman World Championships. In 2016 he broke the Ironman® World Record in Arizona

with a time of 7:44:29. Lionel uses triathlon as an outlet to test and explore his physical and mental limits, and his mission is to inspire others to do the same.


Zwift is the fitness company born from gaming. The app connects wirelessly to exercise equipment: bike trainers, treadmills, and more, so your real world effort powers your avatar in the game. Both Jan and Lionel incorporate indoor training on Zwift, both ride and run, for many of their key sessions throughout the year.

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