Triathlon fans are desperately looking forward to the match up of triathlon’s long-distance stars – Jan Frodeno against the Norwegian duo of Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden. The race between the three was supposed to happen in Kona last year, where Iden used the perfect conditions and a fast field to destroy Frodeno’s course record. We hoped to see Frodeno compete in Oceanside earlier this month (the Norwegians weren’t going to be there, but at least we’d get to see Frodeno back after a couple of years of sickness and injury), but he got sick and had to bail from that race.
Which now leaves us to hope that we’ll finally see the three race on the Spanish island next month for the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s European Open. And, just to add to the hype meter, how about including two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee to the mix? Both Brownlee and Frodeno will need wild card invitations to be able to race in Ibiza, but it’s hard to imagine the PTO wouldn’t be ready to oblige.
The men’s field will officially be announced tomorrow, with the wildcard athletes named on Thursday. We already know that Lionel Sanders won’t be racing in Ibiza, and the word is Sam Long and Jackson Laundry are leaning towards joining Sanders at Ironman 70.3 St. George. While they will be missed as part of the pre-race hype, there is definitely a race scenario in which Sanders’ prediction could be true – those who are more than a minute back after the swim are out of the podium picture.
Another day for Laidlow?
While many triathlon fans were surprised to see Sam Laidlow pull clear of the men’s field at the Ironman World Championship in Kona last year, not to mention holding on for a brilliant runner-up finish, it’s not a stretch to imagine the Frenchman will push at the front of the race again in Ibiza. That actually makes for a perfect race scenario for Frodeno – the two could very well open up a gap in the water, then look to expand on that on the bike. (And it’s not hard to add Brownlee to that group, too.) Laidlow and Brownlee did just that at the PTO Canadian Open last year, but the Brit suffered from cramping issues early in the run, while Laidlow was passed by the two Norwegians and Aussie Aaron Royle and had to settle for fourth.
Last year Iden and Blummenfelt trailed Laidlow by over a minute after the swim at the PTO Canadian Open. The two ran about five minutes faster for 20 km. Laidlow dramatically improved his run by the time he got to Kona, and will now be racing with added confidence after that huge day. If Frodeno has returned to top form, it’s easy to imagine that he could run as fast as the Norwegians.
Prize money draw
While the PTO events are offering a smaller prize purse than last year (US$600,000 vs $1 million), the money is still huge, especially for triathlon events. The World Triathlon Long Distance Championships, happening the same weekend as the PTO event, are offering $120,000 in prize money. That means that even if Frodeno and Brownlee don’t end up in the race there will still be a stellar field on hand.
That might not be enough, though, for this race to live up to all the expectations. Triathlon fans are getting antsy to see the long-awaited match up – the man many consider to be the GOAT, taking on the two up and comers who appear very much ready to follow in his footsteps. All of them racing, at their best, is what folks want to see.
First things first – confirmation that they will all be on the start list over the next few days. Then we have to hope that