Last year's race made it clear to me that Jan has passed the point of mastery of Kona. I think he is clearly operating on the level of Scott, Allen and Reid. He's 36, and it's possible he's too old to win 6. He knows himself, the others, and this course. He seems to be 6 moves ahead of the others, including Keinle. That isn't to say he isn't racing the others. But he appears to have a winning answer, no matter what they do.
And, frankly, Ryf is operating in the same realm right now.
I think where Jan has gotten to is not just his mastery of all aspects of the race, but basically the head space of all the competition is hijacked with "what is Jan doing, what do I have do to defeat Jan, how much gap is there between Jan, where is Jan, who is he with, is Jan coming, did we drop Jan yet?". Basically his competition is stuck in the same head space as all the protour riders are with Froome in the TdF. It's literally all about how things are playing out relative to Froome/Jan given that these guys have no weakness and can both choose to do their own race on every terrain, or put the hammer down at any point in the race and enforce who is the patron of the peloton. In that vein, it fees like he has many of these guys defeated before the start line.
One of Lionel's big motivators to go to Kona this year is he wants to beat Jan head to head. He did not want to wait till Jan retires. Beating Jan in Kona is what he wants to do. At Oceanside he was literally mentally twisted backwards when Jan flatted. He wanted that chance. Does he believe he can beat Jan? I think so. But it does not seem like he is drawing motivation by beating the likes of Lange of Nilsson. It's about trying to beat the champion at his game head to head.