“It’s not the first time I’ve won $100k and it’s unbelievable to win here,” said Iden who beat his Norwegian team mate, friend and rival Kristian Blummenfelt, who finished second after having struggled with cramping quads on the run.
Iden went on to say “the money is obviously important but to fight a class field and come away with the victory that means more to me than the money and I’m so happy that the PTO managed to gather all of the high profile pros here at one race. I’m really driven by racing the best, not just going for a fast time so to race the best in the sport here in Edmonton is so cool.”
After Blummenfelt initially pulled up struggling with cramp, Iden thought “damn now I have this! No problem! And then I saw him at the turnaround and he wasn’t actually too far behind, he’s gaining on me and I’m a bit low on energy and the last lap was full on struggle. I heard 30 seconds [was the gap] at the turnaround and I was thinking 15 seconds per km… Kristian has done it before so he can do it again but luckily I managed to keep him behind.”
After battling to reclaim second place having dropped down to fourth, Blummenfelt said “well done” to Gustav Iden. “It was good to be strong and in good form but I just missed it there and was cramping up. I was happy to be able to come back again in the race and fight for the win, at least, and make the podium. At one point I thought I would have to pull out and then to come back and get second and $70k isn’t too bad I would say.”
Conscious of wanting to limit the damage Iden made on his #1 spot in the PTO World Rankings, Blummenfelt said “it was important for the PTO points, I knew that as long as I was close enough to Gustav I should be able to stay ranked #1, that was also in my mind even though I thought 30 seconds isn’t realistic to catch him over 2km but I just tried to put the pressure on him and get as close as possible.”
Third place-getter Aaron Royle emptied the tank to take the final podium spot. When asked how he felt, the Australian replied: “Shattered, happy, a little bit emotional to be honest and just really tired.”
“I’m just happy to be here… I think I was about one email short of begging for a start because I didn’t have the ranking to get in – I just knew that if I got the opportunity that one: I was in shape to be able to do something special and also, two: if I did get the chance I couldn’t waste it.
“I knew I could do something like this… I really had to battle through that last 5km of the run. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever gone that deep before.”
Speaking about his chances for Collins Cup selection, he added: “I don’t know if I’m a shoe-in but I think they know I want to put my hand up to be there. Right now I’m absolutely shattered so the thought of having to do that again isn’t very appealing but by tomorrow morning I think my mind will be set on that.”
How The Race Played Out
Henri Schoeman – a wildcard entry to this race making a bid for a Collins Cup slot – quickly formed the point of the spear in the swim. The South African broke away to lead a pack of six including Australian wildcard Aaron Royle (PTO World #100), the USA’s Ben Kanute (PTO World #18), GBR’s Alistair Brownlee, France’s Sam Laidlow (PTO World #20) and New Zealand’s Kyle Smith (PTO World #25).
Pre-race favourites Kristian Blummenfelt (PTO World #1) and Gustav Iden (PTO World #3) were in the second pack, over a minute behind by the end of the swim along with Frederick Funk (PTO World #28). Meanwhile, Canadian favourite Lionel Sanders mounted his bike with 4:06 to make up, having been dropped in the swim and putting in the day’s slowest transition.
Brownlee quickly found the front on the bike and began putting the chasers under pressure with Sam Laidlow the only athlete to hold with the Brit. By halfway on the bike, Laidlow and Brownlee had a lead of 47 seconds to Smith with Iden and Blummenfelt now sat in fourth and fifth at 1:32 back, beginning to eat into their deficit. Sanders had lost more time at 4:13 but having moved up from 34th to 20th on the course.
Iden continued to push the pedals hard in the bike’s closing stages, reducing the deficit to the leaders to 1:02 as he ran out of transition having brought Blummenfelt and Funk along for the ride, with Royle another 20 seconds back in sixth and Sanders in 11th with 3:19 to make up.
Laidlow began the run at a ferocious pace, immediately dropping the British double-Olympic champion. Behind, Iden and Blummenfelt were running shoulder-to-shoulder taking chunks of time out of the leaders. Before long, Alistair Brownlee was reduced to a walk as he grimaced holding his sides. The Yorkshireman would battle gamely on but end the day in 24th place.
After the Norwegian pair overtook Laidlow, the drama continued as early in the second lap as Blummentfelt suddenly stopped running holding a cramp in his hip. He would get going again but the world number one would lose around 1:30 to his countryman in the process.
Then, another victim of cramp – Laidlow was forced to hobble to the nearest Precision Fuel and Hydration station before being able to pick the pace up again.
Coming onto the final lap, Iden remained in the lead but a recovered Blummenfelt was running quicker, steadily closing the gap. Royle was in third, three minutes down, with Laidlow in fourth and Pieter Heemeryck in fifth ahead of Funk. Meanwhile, Sanders, off the bike in 11th, was up to seventh.
Hitting the finishing straight, Iden broke into a smile, high-fiving fans to take the tape only to collapse exhausted to the ground, $100,000 richer and the first-ever PTO Canadian Open Champion.
Blummenfelt was second, only 27 seconds behind – securing $70,000 and a Norwegian one-two. Aaron Royle took third and a $50,000 paycheck – a big statement to the Team Internationals Collins Cup captains.
Laidlow hung tough for fourth and $40,000 while Funk’s late surge put him in fifth to take $35,000 ahead of Heemeryck’s sixth-place, $30,000 finish – all three attention-grabbing performances making selection tough for the Team Europe Collins Cup captains.
Sanders finished the day in seventh place, battling on through a less-than-perfect day to take home $25,000.
Remaining places and prize money
- 8th – Max Neumann – $20,000
- 9th – Kyle Smith – $18,000
- 10th – Miki Taagholt – $16,000
- 11th – Collin Chartier – $14,000
- 12th – Sebastian Kienle – $13,000
- 13th – Clement Mignon – $12,000
- 14th – Matt McElroy – $11,000
- 15th – Filipe Azevedo – $10,000
- 16th – Pablo Dapena Gonzalez – $9,000
- 17th – David McNamee – $8,000
- 18th – Thomas Steger – $7,000
- 19th – Jackson Laundry – $6,000
- 20th – Jason West – $5,000
- All other athletes – $2,000
“What incredible drama. That was exactly the kind of head-to-head action we hoped for when we were planning the PTO Tour ,” said Sam Renouf, CEO of the PTO, the body co-owned by its professional triathlete membership, seeking to elevate the sport to the next level.