The first round of wildcard entries to the PTO Championship in Daytona in December includes four of the top draft-legal ITU competitors from the last few years. The list includes the two reigning ITU World Champions – France’s Vincent Luis and Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown – who won last month’s world championship event in Hamburg.
Also on the list is Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and silver medalist at the Rio Games in 2016, and Kristian Blummenfelt, last year’s ITU Grand Final champion and the fastest man ever over the 70.3 distance.
The two-time world champion will be embarking on his first middle-distance non-drafting race in Daytona, but has certainly shown his strength over the last few years with dominant peformances at the 2017 and 2018 Grand Final, along with big Super League Triathlon wins.
A four-time Olympian, Spirig somehow has managed to earn a law degree and raise three children while winning gold and silver at the Olympics. In addition to her draft-legal prowess, she’s excelled in running events, duathlon and has a number of 70.3 titles to her credit – she used Ironman 70.3 Pescara and Haugesund (which she won) as tune ups for her silver medal in Rio.
While she might have been disqualified at the Tokyo Test Event last year after trying to tie the race with countrywoman Jessica Learmonth last year, that won’t stop triathlon pundits from naming her one of the favourites for gold in Tokyo next summer if the Olympics do in fact take place. Taylor-Brown proved she can come through with a big race when it counts by running her way to the world title in Hamburg.
The fastest man at the 70.3 distance thanks to a 3:25:21 clocking at Ironman 70.3 Abu Dhabi in 2019, Blummenfelt took the 2019 ITU Grand Final in Lausanne, making him another Tokyo favourite. He’s shown that he has the speed to compete with the world’s fastest draft-legal athletes, but also has the strength to excel in a non-drafting half-distance race, too. Blummenfelt will arrive in Daytona as one of the pre-race favourites.