Marten Van Riel Prevails in Thrilling Sprint Finish at T100 San Francisco

Marten Van Riel of Belgium outsprinted Kyle Smith and Rico Bogen in a photo finish to claim his first T100 victory.

Marten Van Riel Prevails in Thrilling Sprint Finish at T100 San Francisco

Marten Van Riel of Belgium emerged victorious in a heart-pounding three-way sprint finish at the T100 San Francisco triathlon. The 31-year-old narrowly edged out New Zealand's Kyle Smith and Germany's Rico Bogen on the iconic Escape from Alcatraz course to claim his maiden T100 victory.

Pre-Race Expectations and Conditions

Ahead of the race, Magnus Ditlev, Sam Long and a few wildcards like Van Riel, Alistair Brownlee and Jason West were considered the top contenders in the men's field. The cold waters of San Francisco Bay and the hilly, technical bike course were expected to be deciding factors.

How the Race Was Won


Aaron Royle led the swim, but strong currents resulted in the entire field exiting within a minute of each other. This included Sam Long, typically well behind after the swim. Long did incur a 30-second penalty for not securing his helmet in transition.

Athletes faced chilly, choppy waters, currents and even the threat of sharks (🦈 🤷🏻‍♂️) in the Bay swim. For many, escaping Alcatraz's vicinity brought as much relief as the inmates that attempted the same.


On the challenging 80km bike, Marten Van Riel, Kyle Smith and Rico Bogen formed a lead trio. But surges from behind, including from Long, gradually closed the gap to create a large lead pack. Long, shaking off his transition penalty, even managed to lead the group into T2.

The bike presented relentless climbs, technical descents and damp roads - all combining to shatter the race and the riders' legs. Even the run, though flat, was a war of attrition coming off the arduous swim and bike.


Kyle Smith set a blistering pace right out of transition, immediately distancing Sam Long and the chase group. Only Marten Van Riel responded, quickly bridging up to the Kiwi and sitting on his shoulder.

Rico Bogen was next to make a move, breaking away from Magnus Ditlev and the others to join Smith and Van Riel at the front. The three opened up a one-minute lead by the midpoint of the 18km run.

With 6.5km to go, Bogen surged, but was covered by Smith. Van Riel took a bit longer to close the gap, but proved strong enough to reconnect. The trio remained locked together, clearly bound for the podium but the order still uncertain.

Inside the final 500m, it was Bogen again acting as the aggressor, unleashing a long sprint. Smith and Van Riel shut it down, then the Kiwi soared past into the lead. But one last dig from the Belgian propelled him up to Smith's shoulder. In a photo finish, Van Riel's chest broke the tape a mere 0.23 seconds ahead of Smith to snatch the victory in 3:18:21. Bogen crossed 3 seconds later to round out the podium.

Post-Race Reflections

In a post-race interview, Van Riel said "I gave everything I had. I just had Kyle on the line - that was incredible." He admitted the other two made a mistake by not trying to drop him earlier, as with 2km to go he was "really dead" and unsure if he could hang on.

Smith, though disappointed to miss the win, had no regrets, saying he'd given it his absolute best shot. Bogen was delighted with his first T100 podium.

Looking ahead, Van Riel cements himself as a favorite for the T100 series, but his immediate focus now shifts to the Olympics. Smith's performance makes a compelling case for future wildcard slots. And Bogen, at just 23, proves he's a serious contender at this distance.

Other notable results saw Magnus Ditlev finish 4th and Sam Long 8th after his swim and penalty deficits proved too much to completely overcome on this day. Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez, pre-race dark horses, struggled to 14th and 16th.

In the end, Marten Van Riel timed his race to perfection, expending just enough to stay in contention then unleashing an unmatched final sprint when it mattered most. After batting away repeated attacks from Smith and Bogen, his perfectly timed lunge at the line made the ultimate difference.

Van Riel's win propels him into the thick of the T100 series battle. But with a long season ahead and every course and conditions posing unique challenges, there are sure to be many more plot twists and cliffhangers to come. One thing is certain: if the races ahead deliver even a fraction of the San Francisco thriller, we will be in for a treat.