The first-ever PTO European Open in Ibiza featured a star-studded lineup with Olympic champions Jan Frodeno, Alistair Brownlee, and Kristian Blummenfelt. Despite the pre-race focus on these legends of the sport, it was Australia's Max Neumann, ranked #7 in the world, who emerged victorious in a thrilling race.
The 2km wetsuit swim saw Aussie Aaron Royle leading the way, closely followed by Frodeno and Brownlee. A gap of over a minute separated the top ten from the rest of the field. Neumann was part of the first group alongside other strong swimmers, while reigning Olympic champion Blummenfelt was 12th, just over a minute behind.
During the 80km bike section, Ditlev and Blummenfelt joined the frontrunners, with Ditlev showcasing his biking prowess by reaching speeds of 75 kmph. Neumann, Smith, and Brownlee pushed the pace, but Ditlev managed to bridge the gap, while Blummenfelt and Frodeno were losing time to the leaders.
The race was won or lost during the 18km run. Brownlee initially opened up an advantage of nearly half a minute, but Neumann gained ground and overtook the Brit around the halfway mark. This pivotal moment turned the tide of the race in Neumann's favor. Blummenfelt, always a threat, managed to close the gap to just under 20 seconds with 1.5km to go, but Neumann responded with a final surge to secure the victory, 27 seconds ahead of the Norwegian.
Ditlev secured third place, with Frodeno and Brownlee finishing fourth and sixth, respectively. Neumann's victory over such an elite field, including the Olympic champions, highlights his potential to become one of the sport's top contenders. With this win, he earns a $100,000 prize and is likely to climb higher in the world rankings.