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6 Takeaways from the men’s start list for PTO US Open

What can we look forward to at this year's PTO US Open in Milwaukee

Photo by: PTO

With US$600,000 up for grabs, you know that the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) US Open was going to attract a strong field. We wrote about the women’s field yesterday – today we have a look at the men who have signed up for the race in Milwaukee in August.

Here’s a list of the athletes competing in the race that was announced today – the wildcards for the race will be announced tomorrow.

  1. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR)
  2. Magnus Ditlev (DEN)
  3. Sam Long (USA)
  4. Ben Kanute (USA)
  5. Daniel Baekkegard (DEN)
  6. Aaron Royle (AUS)
  7. Frederic Funk (GER)
  8. Clement Mignon (FRA)
  9. Lionel Sanders (CAN)
  10. Florian Angert (GER)
  11. Jason West (USA)
  12. Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN)
  13. Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
  14. Bradley Weiss (SA)
  15. Miki Moerck Taagholt (DEN)
  16. Mathis Margirier (FRA)
  17. Jackson Laundry (CAN)
  18. Thomas Bishop (GBR)
  19. Gregory Barnaby (ITA)
  20. Trevor Foley (USA)
  21. Braden Currie (NZL)
  22. Chris Leiferman (USA)
  23. David McNamee (GBR)
  24. Thor Bendix Madsen (DEN)

So, based on this list, here are a few thoughts about the upcoming race:

Where’s Frodo?

Jan Frodeno wins Ironman 70.3 Andorra. Photo: Ironman

While Olympic gold medalist and three-time Kona champ Jan Frodeno isn’t on the list, there’s a good chance he’ll be named as one of the wild card athletes tomorrow. Frodeno only got a third result to bolster his PTO World Ranking after winning Ironman 70.3 Andorra earlier this month. (The auto qualifiers were based on the PTO rankings at the end of June.)

Based on his social media posts, Frodeno is training up a storm at altitude in Andorra right now, and one would imagine that competing in Milwaukee will fit in to his build for the world championship in Nice in September. So, we’re guessing we’ll see Frodeno taking on Kristian Blummenfelt and co. in Milwaukee next month.

Kristian Blummenfelt at the practice swim before WTCS Cagliari. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Blummenfelt’s big August (and September) race schedule

There are only a couple of things that Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t won over the last few years – a PTO title and an Ironman World Championship in Kona (he won his in St. George last year). The Norwegian star will arrive in Milwaukee wearing race #1, fresh off a bunch of World Triathlon events as he continues his quest to qualify for Paris next year.

Kristian Blummenfelt adds Super League Championship Series to his busy race schedule

In addition to the PTO US Open, Blummenfelt is looking to compete at the Paris Test Event, then fly overnight in order to compete at the PTO Asian Open, then turn around and fly back to Lahti, Finland to defend his 70.3 world title the following weekend. Then he’ll compete at three events in the Super League Championship series in September, and no-doubt try to fit the World Triathlon Grand Final in Pontevedra into that mix, too.

None of which will diminish his status as the race favourite heading into the PTO US Open.

How motivated (and confident) do you think Magnus Ditlev will be?

Fresh off an incredible Roth performance that saw him break the course record and complete arguably the world’s fastest long-distance race (all depending on your take on Ironman Cozumel – but you can read about all that debate here), Magnus Ditlev will arrive in Milwaukee both determined and confident, one would imagine. His performance in Roth was groundbreaking – now he has the opportunity to show the world that he can go fast and beat the world’s top athletes. Look for the Dane to rip the bike course apart in Milwaukee – should be fun to watch.

Magnus Ditlev tops again at Challenge Roth, shattering Jan Frodeno’s course record

Can Sam Long and Ben Kanute take the win in front of the home country crowd?

Fresh off a podium finish in Roth, Ben Kanute is also in great form. The 100 km distance for the PTO races is seemingly a good one for Kanute and, since he’s a strong swimmer, look for him to be part of an early breakaway group that could open some time on rest of the field.

After being forced to pull out of Ironman Coeur d’Alene after a third flat tire, Sam Long won’t be recovering from a full-distance race, and also highly motivated to have a big day in Milwaukee. He had a string of half-distance wins earlier this year, so the distance should suit him. Long will have to have a good swim, though – with the likes of Frodeno, Blummenfelt, Ditlev, Alistair Brownlee and Kanute in the field, the swim and bike are going to be very fast. Riding up to the lead group will be a challenge even if you’re a few seconds back. A few minutes could be really tough to make up.

Speaking of Alistair Brownlee …

Will the two-time Olympic gold medalist even be in Milwaukee? After leading at the PTO European Open, Brownlee faded during the run to sixth. He bounced back with an Xterra win the following week, but hasn’t been seen since at a start line. Brownlee is entered at Ironman Lake Placid, his last chance to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Nice in September. If he’s not to battered from that race, we could see him in Milwaukee, but one would imagine that if he’s successful in Lake Placid, he’ll want to hunker down to get ready for Nice. Here’s hoping we do see the British star in Milwaukee, though – he always ups the excitement level when he’s in a race!

Is Lionel Sanders ready to compete for the win … or at least a podium?

Lionel Sanders is exhausted, but happy as he qualifies for the final at the Arena Games Montreal earlier this year.

Canadian Lionel Sanders is one of the most popular figures in the sport, and people sure love to follow his exploits both in training and racing. While Sanders took third overall at last year’s Collins Cup, at the two PTO Open races last year he finished seventh and 21st. When the entire field can work together on the bike with a lead, Sanders struggles to get into back into the mix at the PTO races. Sanders’ success in Milwaukee will likely depend on how the swim goes. If both he and Long have good swims and come out of the water together and not too far back, they could work together to drive to the front of the race. It’ll be a tough ask, though, and very much dependent on how Sanders fares in the water.