The sleepy seaside town of Kona/Hawaii fills up with thousands of triathletes, fans, families, and circus like vendors, all to take in the wonder of this triathlon.
The one place that all these people seem to converge during their stay is Island Lava Java on Ali’I Drive. So where better for SCOTT to display its wares to the triathlon world than right here?
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Who will lead off the Bike in Kona?
Sebastian Kienle: Just last month, we watched the German pro race to his first Ironman World Championship 70.3 victory in Vegas over an extremely deep field. Despite exiting the water three minutes down on the leaders, Kienle was aggressive—which he later called a “suicide mission”—and quickly worked to move to the front, extending his lead to 2:49 over the chase pack starting the run. Then he proved he wasn’t just a cyclist when he held off reigning champ Craig Alexander and broke the course record. While 70.3 Vegas is no Ironman Hawaii (and this will be Kienle’s first Kona), he showed he can take the heat (literally) and will be aggressive in pushing the pace on the bike. His top iron-distance finishes include a runner-up (behind Marino Vanhoenacker) at Ironman Frankfurt in July with a race-best 4:25:28 bike, and a 2011 runner-up and sub-eight-hour finish at Challenge Roth.
Marino Vanhoenacker: The Belgian triathlete may not be necessarily known as a “supercyclist” but he always seems to have a decent swim and a top-three bike split paired with a solid run. He’s had multiple top-10 finishes in Kona (including third place in 2010). At the 2011 Ironman Austria, Vanhoenacker broke Luc Van Lierde’s 1997 iron-distance world record with a time of 7:45:58 with a field-leading 4:26:37 bike split. That mid-season effort may have cost him his Kona race—after a third-best bike split, Vanhoenacker DNF’ed in 2011. This season he didn’t have any world-record-shattering performances but he did have a solid victory at Ironman Frankfurt with a second-best 4:26:26 bike.
Luke McKenzie: Up-and-coming Aussie pro Luke McKenzie finished an impressive (and somewhat surprising) ninth last year in Kona, using the second-best bike split (4:24:15) followed by the ninth-best marathon (3:05:54).