Kristian Blummenfelt is hands down one of the most competitive people on the planet. The guy loves to win and, as much as he says he hates losing, he’s actually a really good sport, which fits with the take most of us have on him – he’s a really nice guy.
Nice guys still like to win, though, and one thing Kristian Blummenfelt hadn’t won in his incredible last few years was a PTO Open title. He cramped and came second to his buddy and training partner Gustav Iden (who won the 2020 PTO Tour Championship) at the PTO Canadian Open last year. He finished second to Max Neumann at the PTO European Open in May. Then, earlier this month, he cramped again and found himself having to pull out all the stops to get third.
So the fact that Blummenfelt managed to finish ninth at the Paris Test Event on Friday, fly to Singapore and then dismantle an impressive field for the PTO Asian Open win is nothing but good news for both Blummenfelt and triathlon fans around the world.
I won’t spend too much time recapping the race, but basically you saw a big group come out of the water together, then witnessed Belgium’s Pieter Heemeryck show the rest of the world the talent that many of us have been tracking for a few years and blast to a lead of over two minutes off the bike. During the bike there was a bit of “carnage” with mechanicals, Sam Laidlow (who had been sick going in) having to pull out and Gustav Iden crashing on one of the turnarounds. Once on the final leg of the race there was a devastating run from Blummenfelt for the win, Heemeryck rounding out his great day with second and Jason West running his way to third.
“I’m very happy and relieved,” Blummenfelt said after crossing the line almost two minutes ahead of Heemeryck. “It’s something I’ve been chasing for three years now and to finally be able to take this is a massive relief. It’s been a long time coming since the PTO 2020 Championship in Daytona and I really wanted to win a PTO race.”
- Kristian Blummenfelt – $100,000
- Peter Heemeryck – $50,000
- Jason West – $35,000
- Denis Chevrot – $20,000
- Sam Long – $14,000
- Daniel Baekkegard – $10,000
- Kacper Stepniak – $8,500
- Aaron Royle – $8,000
- Samuel Appleton – $7,500
- David McNamee- $7,000
All sounds pretty good, right? So what, you are likely asking, am I talking about when I add “bad news” to the headline?
Big week for PTO
It’s actually been a huge week for the PTO. The organization has partnered with World Triathlon and will be the official world championship long distance tour for triathlon next year. There will be at least six events, including five continental championships that age group athletes can compete in. Sure, it might have been nice to see Jan Frodeno in Singapore, but the race did feature both of the 2022 Ironman World Championship winners (Blummenfelt in St. George, Iden in Kona) and an impressive field. The women’s race was a barn burner, with Ashleigh Gentle taking the win over Anne Haug and included one of the most popular athletes in the sport, Lucy Charles-Barclay, coming back from injury.
Still looking for the bad news? OK, here’s the thing.. On Friday, after his ninth at the Paris Test Event, Blummenfelt said he’ll be doing one more long-distance race after Singapore – he’s off to defend his 70.3 world title in Lahti, Finland next weekend. (Yes, that is a lot of air miles.) Which means, depending on how much the PTO can stack the season to include as many events as possible after the Olympics, we’re not going to have a a chance to see one of the PTO’s marquee athletes compete. Even when Blummenfelt doesn’t win, his mere presence elevates the status of the race. Anyone want to argue that Frodeno’s amazing US Open win will be remembered as one for the ages because he beat another (younger, up and coming) Olympic and Ironman world champion?
Blummenfelt could have done the PTO a favour with either a loss or an insanely close finish that at least gave the impression that a race without him could be really exciting.
It’s not all bad news, though. First off, things are only going to get more exciting with the women’s races next year – it’s hard to imagine that a resurgent Daniela Ryf won’t want her share of those big ol’ prize purses, but she’s going to have her work cut out for her, even at her best. Also, it’s not hard to argue that a Blummenfelt-less race can still be more than a little exciting. Heck, the guys only won one of them!
Most importantly, after next year’s Olympics the PTO is going to have the best problem ever. It has set up the perfect stepping stone for Olympic athletes to move to long-distance racing. Every four years we see an influx of insanely talented draft-legal racers move up to 70.3 races. Now they don’t have to go quite as far (100 km vs 113), and there’s a lot more money up for grabs.
So, we just have to bide our time until after the Olympics next year for the 100 km PTO bonanzas to appear on a screen near you. Whatever PTO Open events happen before the Games in Paris will no-doubt offer lots of entertainment, and will only set the stage for an incredible climax to the season.