In one of the most epic Kona World Championships in the event's storied history, records were shattered and expectations about the limits of human performance were obliterated. Daniela Ryf successfully defended her three consecutive titles by winning number four this past Saturday in the most dramatic fashion imaginable. Before the race began, Ryf was warming up in Kailua Bay when, approximately two minutes before the start, she was stung twice in her arms by a jellyfish! That set up a dramatic opening half of the race, where Ryf suffered through a tough swim and finished well off her normal pace while her top rivals took advantage of a massive head start on the bike leg.
Ryf eventually emerged from the water and mounted her brand-new IA Disc, and then annihilated the Kona bike course record in a time of 4:26:07, moving into first position while pedaling down the famous Queen K highway. She then posted the fastest Kona marathon time of her career to solidify a new overall Kona course record: 8:26:18, about 20 minutes faster than her effort from two years ago, the previous record. Only one other woman has ever won four consecutive Kona world championships: the great Paula Newby-Fraser, who also happened to be the very first professional athlete that Felt Bicycles ever supported.
How significant was Daniela Ryf's victory, for both herself and for Felt Bicycles? Let's look at the numbers...
1: This was the very first world championship victory at Kona by a competitor aboard a disc brake-equipped bike.
6: This was the 6th consecutive Ironman World Championship victory on a Felt bike (the previous five were accomplished aboard a Felt rim brake-equipped IA).
4: This was the 4th consecutive Ironman World Championship victory for Daniela Ryf on a Felt bike.
20: Daniela Ryf broke the overall Kona course record by over 20 minutes.
18: Daniela Ryf smashed the Kona bike course record by 18 minutes aboard the all-new IA Disc.
All hail the Queen of Kona, four-time World Champion Daniela Ryf.
Daniela Ryf wasn't the only pro athlete who had a memorable Kona World Championship race. Elsewhere in the Pro Women's division, three-time World Champion Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae took fifth place on the day--her first Kona back from taking time off to welcome the arrival of her daughter Isabelle. Kaisa Sali, a previous top-five finisher on two occasions, took a solid seventh place this past weekend, remaining incredibly consistent in big races against stacked fields. In the men's race, Josh Amberger was again the first out of the water after the swim leg, as he was in 2017. Josh then kept pace with the fastest cyclists on the day, but eventually pulled out of the race about halfway through the run portion due to a lingering injury. Had the injury not sidelined him, there's no doubt that Josh would have scored a top ten victory.
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After being first out of the water at the past two Kona World Championships, Australian Josh Amberger is eager for a podium spot at this year's race. Aiding him on the bike split will be a brand-new Felt IA Disc triathlon race rig, complete with a full component setup from SRAM and Zipp.
Daniela Ryf is the reigning Queen of Kona. A four-time consecutive winner of triathlon’s most prestigious race, the Swiss superstar has dominated this racing season, and she is chasing a historic fifth Kona world championship. This is the bike with which she aims to make history.