A few days before the Collins Cup this year, Lionel Sanders was heading out for a “recovery” bike ride after his runner-up finish at Ironman Copenhagen a few days before. As he started out, Norway’s Gustav Iden (pictured above on his way to taking the PTO 2020 Championship in Daytona) yelled to the Canadian star – hey, join us for the ride. Sanders found himself riding with Iden and his brother, and was impressed with what he saw. Later that week Sanders told me that Iden was brimming with confidence – and rightfully so. He was super fit and would be tough to beat in St. George in less than a month.
Sanders couldn’t have been more correct. Today Iden proved that his dramatic sin in Nice two years ago where he ran away from no-less a superstar than Alistair Brownlee was no fluke – the Norwegian did it all again thanks to a spectacular bike and run combination that saw him take the win.
Kanute leads into T1
American Ben Kanute led the men out of the water with Sam Appleton (AUS), Daniel Baekkegard (DEN) and Norway’s Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt close behind. Canada’s Jackson Laundry was 15th out of the water, 1:01 behind, but most importantly, was part of a big chase group that included the defending men’s champion, Iden. Canadian Taylor Reid found himself in a bit of a hole starting the ride – he was 34th out of the water, 2:08 behind the leaders.
Out on the bike course it didn’t take long for a group of 10 to form at the front as Germany’s Frederic Funk moved to the front ahead of Kanute and Blummenfelt. The rest of the international group of 10 included: Miki Taagholt (DEN), Baekkegard, Magnus Ditlev (DEN), Iden, Appleton and Laundry. They all had a minute lead on the closest pursuer, with a gap of two minutes to some of the other potential contenders including Americans Sam Long and Collin Chartier.
Iden pulls clear on the bike
Iden made his move shortly after the halfway point of the ride, going to the front and steadily putting the pressure on the rest of the group. His countryman Blummenfelt would flat out on the bike course, taking him out of the picture, but nothing was slowing down the defending champ, who finally managed to break clear with about 20 km of riding to go, opening up a gap of 44 seconds on Ditlev into T2, with Funk 1:50 down and American Eric Lagerstrom and Laundry hitting T2 2:50 behind the lead. American Sam Long managed to stay in the mix as he started the run three minutes behind.
Iden was simply untouchable, though, leaving the excitement in the race to come from watching the battle for the rest of the podium positions. Long used his impressive downhill running capabilities on the challenging St. George course to run his way to second place, but was 3:46 behind Iden thorugh 14 km, with Baekkegard at four minutes.
Iden would take his second world 70.3 title in a blazing 3:37:13 after an impressive 1:11:32 run split on the tough run course. Long would hang on to the runner-up finish in 3:41:09, followed by Baekkegard in 3:42:24. Laundry couldn’t quite hold off a late charge by Denmark’s Miki Taagholt, who got to the line in fourth (3:43:08) with the Canadian rounding out the top five in 3:43:25.
You can find the full results here.