Dirk Bockel and Caroline Steffen put co-competitors in their places – Timo Bracht annoyed by problems with his bike, successfully fights for third place and wins hearts of Roth’s spectators
ROTH. Two unexpected winners make the news headlines of this year’s DATEV Challenge Roth. With the German born Luxembourger Dirk Bochel and Swiss Caroline Steffen two Roth debutants manage to win the race. Perfect weather conditions – sunshine, fairly warm temperatures and not too much wind – helped the two athletes to shake off their chasers and to delight more than 220,000 spectators along the race track.
It was Thursday’s DATEV Challenge Roth press conference that saw Dirk Bochel announce his will to beat his personal record of 8:11 hours and to finish among the top three. He will hardly have hoped that this race would become his race! He entered the water of the Main-Danube-Canal in the morning, and of course most insiders knew that he, being a strong swimmer, would be among the first to leave the water after 3.8 kilometres again. Only Dylan McNeice and Stephen Bayliss were a few strokes ahead then. Bockel left the water at 46:05 minutes alongside Maik Petzold and “Oldie but Goldie” Andreas Niedrig. By then, he had already put three and a half minutes between himself and his supposedly strongest rivals, Timo Bracht and last year’s winner James Cunnama.
Bockel made a point of keeping up his speed on the bike, thus laying the foundation for the title. When second placed Konstantin Bachor reached the second transition area, he was already trailing by seven minutes. James Cunnama started his marathon run another four minutes later. Timo Bracht was stopped by a flat tyre, which caused his race to stop for several minutes until he was able to go on. During his marathon run he passed six of his co-competitors and entered the Roth triathlon stadium in third place. “If it wasn’t Roth, I’d have given up. But I kept going for my family, for my team and for each one of you along the race course!”
After an unbelievably fast switch to his running shoes Bockel managed to keep his lead thanks to his pace and his textbook style of running. While Timo Bracht kept making up time on his rivals, Konstantin Bachor wasn’t able to keep Cunnama’s pace, who passed Bachor after 20 kilometres. Bachor then was taken over by more starters.
At this point the places on the 2013 DATEV Challenge Roth winner’s rostrum were virtually occupied. Dirk Bockel went on to win the race with a fantastic time of 7:52.01 hours. James Cunnama followed twelve minutes later, and Timo Bracht completed the winner’s rostrum after 8:08.18 hours. Being the first German to cross the finish line, he is now the winner of the DTU Long Distance German Championship.
The women’s race saw the birth of a worthy new “Queen of Roth”, Caroline Steffen. It had been the débutant’s aim to celebrate a surprise win at the 2013 DATEV Challenge Roth, and she clearly lived up to her own expectations. Fair enough, she missed her goal to leave the water ahead of all of her rivals, but she didn’t lose more than a few seconds on Katja Konschak. Konschak, for whom it was the first race in Roth, too, finished the first stage after 51:42 minutes. However, she wasn’t able to extend her lead on the bike, and the more experienced Yvonne van Vlerken (Netherlands) was first to enter the second transition area. Now Sonja Tajsich hasn’t got a mention yet, which is because for her it was a rather black day. Even before she could start her marathon run, she was forced to give in to problems during the second stage. Julia Gajer didn’t have a satisfying first few kilometres on her bike, either, and she couldn’t resist Belinda Granger’s (AUS) and Joanna Lawn’s (NZ) attacks. However, that was a mere snapshot, as Gajer eventually stabilized her performance and was able to start her marathon run in third place.
The turn in Schwanstetten saw the change in the lead, when Caroline Steffen took the lead from Yvonne van Vlerken. Finally, she crossed the finish line after 8:40.35 hours, 5:47 minutes ahead of Vlerken. Another 4:42 minutes later Julia Gajer finished, being the first German to finish the 2013 DATEV Challenge Roth.