Meanwhile, in St. George, Lionel Sanders headlines the “other” race
The Ironman 70.3 North American Championship takes place in Utah tomorrowPhoto by: Kevin Mackinnon
All eyes will be on the Spanish island Ibiza tomorrow as the $600,000 Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) European Open with it’s stellar captures the triathlon world’s imagination, but a number of the sport’s biggest names have chosen to skip the PTO Tour event in favour for the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship in St. George, Utah.
While the field in St. George won’t be nearly as strong as the one set for Ibiza tomorrow, there’s enough firepower to make for an exciting race. (You can see the men’s and women’s start lists here.)
There will be live coverage of the race on Outside Watch starting at 8:30 EST.
Sanders vs Long vs Laundry?
While we just finished pointing out that the intense race-day rivalries we hype up heading into a race rarely actually happen (see link below), triathlon fans are looking forward to the competition between three men in particular tomorrow.
Leading the charge will be Canadian Lionel Sanders (pictured above taking second at the Ironman World Championship St. George in 2022), who has won the race in Utah three times (2016, 2018 and 2021), and finished second to Alistair Brownlee when the two-time Olympic gold medalist made his long-distance debut there in 2017. In 2021 Sanders out sprinted American Sam Long to take the North American championship in St. George. The two had another sprint to the line at last year’s Collins Cup. Suffice it to say that triathlon fans are keen to see the pair battle to the line again tomorrow.
Another Canadian, Jackson Laundry, could also factor in the mix. Laundry enjoyed a breakthrough win at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside last year, where he handily beat Sanders, Rudy Von Berg and Alistair Brownlee. When he’s on, Laundry can put together similar bike and run splits to both Sanders and Long, and is typically a little better in the water.
If he’s healthy, Matt Hanson could also big a big player for the win tomorrow, but the American was taken out by an age grouper on the bike a few weeks ago at Ironman Texas, so it’s not even certain he’ll end up on the start line.
Moench highlights the women’s field
Americn Skye Moench is another athlete we could have seen racing in Ibiza tomorrow, but the PTO #14 decided to stay in her home country this weekend. After taking some time off, South Africa’s Jeanni Metzler returns to racing tomorrow. The 2021 70.3 world championship runner-up is renowned for her running ability – if she comes off the bike within a few minutes of the leaders she’ll certainly be in contention for the win. Same goes for American Jackie Hering.
One athlete in the race who will likely be at the front and won’t be too familiar to many in North American is Dane Sif Bendix Madsen. She’s incredibly strong on the bike and led most of the way at Clash Miami this year on her way to a runner-up performance. Her running continues to improve as she’s over the injury that slowed her down and left her to finish seventh at Clash Daytona last year.
Others to watch this weekend include Americans Lauren Brandon, who will likely lead the way out of the water, Danielle Lewis and Lesley Smith.