Dead motorcyclist at Ironman in Hamburg – profit at the expense of safety

Status: 05.06.2023 5:44 p.m

The death of a motorcyclist at the Ironman in Hamburg raises the question of whether commercial interests endanger safety at such events.

Investigations are ongoing: Why and how exactly the accident that led to the death of a 70-year-old motorcyclist at the triathlon in Hamburg on Sunday (04.06.2023) is unclear.

We are still stunned. But the status of the investigation is basically the same as on Sunday evening“, said a spokesman for the Hamburg Senate on Monday to the sports show. The city is in close contact with the relevant authorities, i.e. the police and the organizer.

There was a serious accident at the triathlon championships in Hamburg. Sportschau reporter Ralf Scholt talks to the police officer about the accident.

The organizer of the triathlon in Hamburg is “Ironman Germany GmbH”. The question of why the event was not canceled after the devastating accident was directed at them in particular.

Oliver Schiek, Managing Director of “Ironman Germany GmbH”, could not be reached when asked by the sports show. In the case of a written inquiry in cooperation with Deutschlandfunk, reference was made to a company in the USA, the parent company, so to speak, which “Cash Cow” of the triathlon: Ironman. As of Monday afternoon, early morning at the company’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida, there was no response.

No reaction from the organizer

World Triathlon Corporation” (WTC) is the name of the group in the USA. It used to belong to the Chinese Wanda Group, but has since been transferred to the investment company Advance sold. earned his money WTC like its German offshoot with the implementation of major sporting events. This includes not only triathlon events, but also cycle races, such as the “Cyclassics“, which will also be driven in and around Hamburg later in the year.

The industry suffered greatly from Corona. The annual financial statements of “Ironman Germany GmbH” show sales of around 21.6 million euros for the 2019 financial year. In 2020 it fell to less than five million euros. More recent figures are not available.

More than 500 euros entry fee

A long-distance Ironman involves a good 3.8km swim, just over 180km on the bike before a 42.195km marathon is run. If you want to complete such an Ironman, you have to invest a lot of time in training, and it also costs money. The entry fees in Hamburg were a good 500 euros, in Frankfurt it is even 675 euros for the 2023 edition.

Major triathlon events are mixed events, similar to the marathons. Professionals start – in Hamburg there were about 50 who fought for the title of European champion – and a lot of amateurs. There were around 3,000 participants in Hamburg.

Because of the crowd, critical situations arise. Falls are inevitable. In Hamburg, however, Sebastian Kienle had a bad feeling for another reason. The sports show expert, who commented on the live stream that was later interrupted, was already observing wide areas of the route and still without any oncoming athletes.”critical situations“. It be”been evident that it will come to that“He told the sports show on Monday.

It was then quite tight at the scene of the accident, and there was oncoming traffic, which was fatal to the motorcyclist because he collided head-on with a cyclist.

World-class athlete Kienle, who won the Ironman in Hawaii in 2014, had also complained about the large number of motorcycles before the accident. “I also had the feeling that some of them didn’t have a lot of experience“said Kienle on Monday.

Better communication

As a consequence of the tragedy, Kienle calls for experienced motorcyclists to be used in the future, as is the case with the Tour de France is usual. Choosing the routes so that everyone always travels in one direction would also increase safety. Kienle also wishes that communication would be improved. So there is no radio communication between the individual motorcyclists and also not between the race control and the motorbikes.

In Hamburg there was also a lack of decision-makers who could have taken out a certain number of motorcycles or canceled the second lap, which had to be completed with the bike.

Kienle continues to consider continuation to be acceptable

Even a day later, Kienle is of the opinion that the continuation of the event was justifiable. On the one hand, such events with high physical strain and many participants repeatedly lead to deaths without being canceled: “Of course you can see it differently. Ultimately, it is an ethical discussion.”

Association President Martin Engelhardt defends the decision that the race in Hamburg was not abandoned despite the fatal accident.

On the other hand, it is logistically difficult to stop an event where cyclists are currently traveling over a distance of 90 kilometers (two laps were ridden).

A roadblock also poses an increased risk, and there are no communication options for other routes.

Hamburg checked security before the Triathlon World Cup

As a first reaction, the city of Hamburg wants to review its safety concept again before the next major triathlon event in July. The world championships over the sprint distance and the Olympic distance will take place from July 13th to 16th. There was “criticism from very high-profile triathletes. They can classify that. And you have to take that seriously,” said Hamburg State Councilor for Sport Christoph Holstein (SPD) on Monday. Therefore, this criticism will also flow into the consultations before the Triathlon World Championships and in general before the next major sporting events in the city.

“Security Concepts rethink”

The organizers and authorities are sensitized after the tragic incident. “We have to fundamentally rethink the security concepts for major sporting events“said the spokesman for the Hamburg Senate of the sports show.

After the fatal accident at the Ironman European Championships in Hamburg, Felix Walchshöfer, Managing Director of Challenge Roth, expressed his condolences. He also explained that significantly fewer motorcycles will be on the road at the Challenge.

As a first step, the organizers of the famous triathlon in Roth, Franconia, have decided to admit 40 fewer motorcycles than last year to the event on June 25th.