Pro athletes talking about Challenge Roth: ‘Best race in the world’

Challenge Roth press conference (Picture: Challenge Roth)

Soundbites from the Challenge Roth Press Conference

There are 87 of the world’s top pros on the start line at Challenge Roth on Sunday 7 July and here’s what just a few of them had to say at yesterday’s press conference:

Rebecca Robisch (GER)

“I don’t really know what to expect from myself. It will be my first long distance so something completely new for my body. I am well prepared, I want to be fast on the swim, and then I just hope I can keep up with the other girls on the bike for as long as possible. I didn’t do any tris for 6.5 years between 2016 and 2022. I didn’t swim at all during this time, I did mountain biking, trail runs so I was fit, and Felix asked me year after year when I would finally start in Roth and every year I said no, I won’t do another triathlon. But then after I was coaching some athletes, the fire came back and I thought I owed it to myself to do this at home. My whole family will be there, I’ll have one of the largest supporter groups along the course and that will be great motivation. I don’t feel any pressure as I don’t know what to expect of myself.”

Danielle Lewis (USA)

“The people here are so kind and nice and considerate. Our homestay has been cooking for us which is a real treat and it’s been a very special time. I’ve always been involved in sport and I ended up running in college. After running I ended up getting sick, I thought I’d do cycling but then had an accident and broke my shoulder and then had another accident and broke some bones in my back. But, I still wanted to be a professional athlete so I took up triathlon. I don’t have hard specific goals for this one – this is a unique and special race and I want to take in the entire Roth experience, I just want to execute a clean race from start to finish. I’ve always been under the radar, my style is playing catch up during the day and I prefer it like that, I like to have a carrot to chase so I expect that’s what will happen.”

Els Visser (NED)

“I was here five years ago and it was an incredible experience – it’s so unique and special. But I’m a different athlete now and it’s great to be back. I’ve changed heaps, it’s been a journey. In 2019 I’d just started and since then I’ve been training super hard and improving as an athlete and am a lot stronger than I was five years ago. I can only say I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. The training has been going really well and my racing has been consistent. But I’m ready! It would be great if I can make it to the podium I need a good day to achieve this, I don’t want it to be an all-German podium!”

Laura Philips (GER)

“It’s highly important. It’s my first season highlight that I’ve been looking forward to since I crossed the line last year. I’m looking forward to a very special race. Preparation has been good and I have trained well, I’ve gone through some races this year and that helped me to gain mental strength from race to race and now I’m really looking forward to my first long distance of the year. I’m interested to see what my form will be. Everything has been planned and I’ve done some relaxation in the lead-in and I’m wanting to see how I can perform. I’m grateful that I’m here back again healthy and happy and I’m looking forward to this second chance. I’d like to win of course, but the winning chances were diminished by Anne starting but the challenge has grown because of this and has become a better challenge. So if I was able to earn a victory it would be worth even more with Anne in the field.”

Anne Haug (GER)

“It was really spontaneous to be here! My season has gone completely differently to how I planned but life sometimes tells you different things and new oportunities open up. I’m looking forward to Sunday with such a fantastic field. I had to cancel my first races this year and I was happy to get back to training and this went well and I had a feeling that the form was right and I just wanted to do a high quality race and I wanted to be at Roth. I felt well and fit enough and I just wanted to compete with a strong competition. I’ve grown up with Roth and I wanted to seize the opportunity to start. I think it’s going to be a tight race all of us are on the same level – there’s no super swimmer who might tear up the field. I think it will really need an excellent day to be at the top and that makes it ultra exciting and I think it will be a very clean race. There are a lot of tactics involved and we just have to push each other. Daniele set a benchmark last year and you grow with this challenge.”

Jan Stratmann (GER)

“I’m looking forward to Sunday a lot, It’s the first time I’m here. I came with my dad a few years ago when I thought it was completely crazy and now I’m sitting here myself. I’ve wanted to come to Roth since I started triathlon. It was always a goal of mine to be a starter and cross the finish line and I’m extremely happy to be here and race on Sunday. I don’t have any fixed goal for Sunday but I know what I can do and I’ll be satisfied if I can perform the way I have trained for. I hope there will be a fast swim and that I can stay at the front and I’ll try and stay with the leaders on the bike. The conditions could get fast for the marathon if it’s not that hot. I want to focus on a really fast run, take care of nutrition and it could be a good day on the finish line.

Daniel Bækkågard (DEN)

“My dad lived in Switzerland for 12 years and I’ve always loved the country. You travel a lot as a pro and I wanted to cut down on travel as much as possible. I’ve always loved the mountains and nature and the athlete DNA and St Moritz was the perfect fit. It’s made me a happier athlete so that’s going to help me a lot on Sunday. I’ve been training in the same conditions that we’re going to have on Sunday but at altitude at 1,800m so I’m fully equipped for whatever the weather will throw at us on Sunday. Patrick and I have some history and he’s been very close to breaking the 2:30 and I think it will be close on Sunday – this is the right course to do it. My dreams would be a podium on Sunday, that’d be amazing!”

Rudy van Berg (USA)

“I love triathlon! I’ve been it my entire life. I’ve been to big races like this since I was four or five years old following my dad, he’s been here three times. I love the lifestyle and I wouldn’t change it for anything. This is new experience for me here at Challenge Roth and I’m looking forward to develop that even further. I’ve always wanted to race Roth and I always knew that if I qualified for Kona early, I’d go straight to Roth and Felix was nice enough to invite me. It’s been amazing here. My homestay has been really great, they cook all the meals, everyone’s super nice and super welcoming and I can’t wait to see the atmosphere on race day. Usually I’m looking to surprise myself – looking to be my best, fastest long distance time and mix it up with the front with the best guys. You always dream for the win but to get a podium would be amazing.”

Patrick Lange (GER)

“You carry the Roth experience through the training so that pushes you to go the extra mile through the training, I’ve gained so many positive experiences here, from the first moment I was able to start here – it’s the best race in the world! You can’t put Roth into one word- it’s a lightning flash of a thousand thoughts that go through my mind. All the faces you see during the race who are so happy to be there to support, this family feeling, there are a thousand things that make it so great. The 2:30 will happen, the question is just when, I want to do it on Sunday, that is no secret. The fact that Adidas has created a specific shoe for little old triathlon, even with the massive European Championships going on, is unreal, and of course it’s a legal shoe! I’m really excited about this – it will be full throttle from the start to the finish and I guarantee that I will do everything.”

Magnus Ditlev (DEN)

“We’ll see if anyone can beat me on Sunday – I love everything about this race, it’s my favourite race on the calendar. I feel so welcome and that really helps me perform and it’s an amazing field that Felix has created so it’s definitely not going to be an easy task. It’d be amazing to great the three-peat and that’s definitely what I’ve been training for for the entire season. This is my first highlight of the season. Ever since I crossed the finish line last year I’ve been wanting to return. The entire atmosphere here is amazing and coming back to the same lovely homestay family and seeing the familiar faces. It’s impossible to pinpoint one reason, there are so many great memories from this race.”