Yesterday, three-time Challenge Roth champion Yvonne Van Vlerken publicly spoke out about this year’s Challenge Roth winner, Daniela Ryf, questioning her lack of respect for the event, the race rules and her fellow competitors. We followed up with Ryf and Challenge Family Pro-Liaison, Belinda Granger for comment.

Text and images by Witsup


A frustrated Van Vlerken mentions in her post (read it in full here) that several of the professional athletes were contracted to appear at different events in the lead up to race day, for example the Press Conference, Erdinger Party, Pros Q&A with the public and the noodle (carbo) party, yet Ryf did not attend all of these. She also goes on to state that Ryf broke two rules in the lead up to the race;

  1. Not racking her helmet the day before the race and,
  2. Having a swim warm up when athletes were told they were not allowed in the canal ahead of time.


In the world of triathlon, athletes may be invited to race at a particular event, and in return for covering things like travel costs, accommodation, or an appearance fee, they may be asked to attend particular pre and post race events and activities. The details of those agreements aren’t always public knowledge, and, athletes aren’t always contracted to attend these events, but choose to do so. Van Vlerken is a big supporter of Challenge Roth having raced there seven times, and going home the champion three of those times.

We reached out to Ryf and to Challenge Family Pro-Liaison, Belinda Granger for comment.

“Yes, I had a contract with Roth agreed to before I went there,” Ryf explained. “I fulfilled my commitments in the contract.”

Belinda Granger explains that contracts are strictly confidential and that no one aside from the athlete and the organising body know the details. “I am unable to comment on whether Daniela did or did not fulfil all of her contractual obligations as I (or nobody for that matter) is privy to the specifics of an athlete’s contract. This is between athlete and race organiser only.”

Further to the appearance issues that Van Vlerken brought up, she also questioned some dubious decisions made by Ryf that resulted in her breaking the rules.

“Daniela was handed two yellow cards for the two infringements,” Granger explains. “One for not getting her helmet into transition the day before the race before it officially closed at 4pm and also for entering the water for a warm up swim on race morning (yellow cards are warnings only and have no time penalty attached).”

While not all rules are set out in the race manual, professional athletes attend a pro briefing to be informed of any updated rules or areas that may seem debatable, and the Deutsche (German) Triathlon Union are the ones who supply the technical officials to enforce all rules.

“Yes, these were my mistakes,” Ryf confessed. “The helmet, I left in the red bag and not on the bike. But as soon as I was told about it we put it back on the bike that evening.

“The swim was also different to last year so I got confused and did it wrong,” she added. “So yes my mistake, but of course it’s not intentional and I was actually worried all through the bike of getting another one as that would make me disqualified – so again, I will pay more attention.”

The rules state that: You will be disqualified after 3 warnings (yellow cards), same procedure after 3 time penalties (blue cards). Disqualification also occurs in case of 2 yellow cards and 1 blue card, and vice versa (2 blue cards and 1 yellow card), as well as 1 red card.

There has been a lot of chatter on social media, and clearly both are high profile athletes, so we wanted to take the opportunity to bring both sides of the conversation together.

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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4 Responses

  1. Liz

    After race brief at Roth stating NO outside help being head phones, mobile phones, cameras etc, how come there were loads of athletes wearing head phones, I found this totally unfair and those who disrespected the brief should be disqualified.
    I was horrified to what I saw and put a dampener on the day when the real athletes struggled to do their best on their own steam.
    I would like to hear what the officials have to say about this?
    Liz Bennett

    • Les N

      At the race briefing it was clearly stated that headphones are allowed on the run course but the volume but be low enough to hear instructions.

  2. Thomas Gerlach Professional Triathlete

    Clearly there is room for improvement in making sure the rest of the athletes know these yellow cards are being handed out. It may be beneficial to increase the penalty of a yellow card with some nominal time penalty of say 1 minute. You will see a lot more respect for the rules when you start issuing real punishments.


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