After a fantastic showing from the professional women, the professional men lined up for the second day of racing at the PTO Canadian Open in Edmonton. The men would take on the same course and same distance as the women with a 2 km swim in Hawrelak Park Lake, a technical 80 km bike and an 18 km run split over four laps. The world-class roster was stacked with favourites including the “man of the moment” and PTO world number one Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), his compatriot and 2020 PTO Champion Gustav Iden, Canadian favourite and legend Lionel Sanders, fellow Canadian Jackson Laundry, Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee (GBR), North American Ironman Champion Matt Hanson (USA), and Ben Kanute (USA) who has success across all distances of triathlon.
Just like the women’s race, it was a short course athlete that took the reins on the swim. Henri Schoeman (RSA) set a pace that split the field with only Aaron Royle (AUS), Kanute, Brownlee, Sam Laidlow (FRA), and Kyle Smith (AUS) on his feet. Blummenfelt was at the front of the strung-out chase pack with Sanders and Hanson even farther back in the third group. Schoeman stopped the swim clock at 25:01 but would quickly surrender his lead going into the bike.
Brownlee took an aggressive start to take the lead with Laidlow responding to share the work. Behind them, Smith maintained a fast pace but Iden, Blummenfelt, and Frederic Funk (DEU) were on the move.
Sanders not only left a lot of work for himself after the swim but also clocked the slowest T1. In typical fashion, Sanders worked his way through the field from 35th to 11th by the end of the bike with over a three minute deficit.
Laidlow and Brownlee hit T2 first with a gap of just over a minute. After missing the dismount line and having to do a quick return, Brownlee gave Laidlow the advantage heading into the run. Brownlee wasn’t able to match the pace and, moments later, his face cracked in pain as he clutched his stomach and was forced to come to a stop.
Laidlow seemed to have a winning lead but behind him the Norwegians were coming and coming fast. Holding 3:15 pace per kilometre, the two were looking unstoppable, but, in another shocking moment, Blummenfelt suddenly stopped, pressing a cramping quadricep with his face wincing in pain. Iden continued and so did the fireworks. Seconds before Iden would take over the lead, Laidlow slowed and hobbled to a walk, his face in knots of pain as he reached for his hamstring.
Brownlee, Laidlow, and Blummenfelt would all continue and finish, but it was only Blummenfelt who would regain his speed and race for the win. The win, however, belonged to Iden. With a final time of 3:10:48, Iden ran on to claim the $100,000.00 prize purse and the title.
“It’s unbelievable to win here,” Iden said. “To be here in a world class field and to come away with the victory, that means more to me than the money. And I’m so glad the PTO managed to gather all the high profile [professionals] here in one race… To race the best in the sport here in Edmonton is so cool.”
Blummenfelt would take second, only 22 seconds back after running his way back through the field to make it a Norwegian 1-2. Royle claimed the final spot on the podium with Laidlow hanging on for fourth.
Canadian favourite Sanders ran from 11th off the bike into 7th.
- Gustav Iden – 3:10:48
- Kristian Blummenfelt – 3:11:15
- Aaron Royle – 3:14:26