Neumann steals the show with huge PTO European Open win
Kristian Blummenfelt takes the battle of Olympic champions with runner-up finishPhoto by: PTO
With all the pre-race hype about the battle of the GOATs, Australia’s Max Neumann managed to steal the show, holding off Kristian Blummenfelt for the biggest win of his career. The Norwegian bested the two other Olympic gold medalists in the field, but came up short, crossing the line just seconds behind as Dane Magnus Ditlev rounded out the podium.
Royle dominates in the water
Aaron Royle led a group of 10 out of the water with Jan Frodeno and Alistair Brownlee right on his heels. Others in the group included Max Neumann, Daniel Baekkegard and Ben Kanute. American Jason West led the chase group out of the water about a minute down, with Kristian Blummenfelt and Rudy Von Berg right behind, and Magnus Ditlev about seven more seconds behind.
Out on the bike it wasn’t long before Ditlev and Blummenfelt had powered their way to the front. Once he powered his way to the front, Ditlev managed to spur things up at the front and a group of four including the Dane, Brownlee, Neumann and Aussie Kyle Smith pulled clear of a chase group of four led by Brit Tom Bishop, Royle, Frodeno and Blummenfelt.
With 10 km to go things had split up even more as Brownlee powered up to the front of the lead group. Bishop and Royle pushed on 36 seconds back, with Frodeno at 49 seconds and Blummenfelt 54 seconds behind.
T2 – Brownlee charges … a bit too soon
By the end of the bike Brownlee was at the front again, showing his short-course prowess as he flew out onto the run course three seconds up on Smith. Neumann and Ditlev were about 15 seconds behind as they start the run. Blummenfelt, Royle and Frodeno all cruised out just over a minute down.
Out on the run course Smith moved up to Brownlee’s shoulder for a few km, but eventually found himself struggling to keep up with the Brit’s torrid pace. Behind them Blummenfelt and Frodeno were running together.
Brownlee continued to run alone, but you could see the tension starting to rise as he stopped at an aid station and screamed as he struggled to find his nutrition. Jason West was running a touch faster than the two-time Olympic gold medalist through the early stages of the race, but had started the run over four minutes back, so wasn’t a threat for the lead.
Through 8 km of the run Blummenfelt finally managed to pull clear of Frodeno, but found himself 1:18 behind as he started to push the pace towards the front. Neumann remained in second, 17 seconds behind Brownlee, with Ditlev in third, 39 seconds down.
Shortly after that, though, it was Neumann’s turn to go for the front. The Aussie surged past Brownlee and quickly pulled into the lead. Behind them Blummenfelt continued his charge towards the front, steadily moving past the men ahead.
Through just over 10 km of the run Brownlee had well and truly folded, struggling to stay in third as Blummenfelt flew by as he chased the win, 42 seconds behind. At this point Frodeno was trying to get himself into the top five.
With three km to go it was still Neumann in front, with Blummenfelt about 30 seconds behind. The question now was whether or not Blummenfelt was going to run out of real estate. Every split the gap kept closing, but then, with 2 km to go, Neumann either found another gear or Blummenfelt finally ran out of gas.
Neumann would get to the line for the biggest win of his career, taking the win in 3:13:46. Blummenfelt would finish in 3:14:13 with Ditlev rounding out the podium in 3:15:36. Frodeno managed to get to the line in fourth (3:16:02) with West posting the day’s fastest run (57:02) to come across the line three seconds later. Next across, in sixth, was Brownlee (3:17:03).
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“You don’t get many chances to race these guys. It is just a privilege to go up against Jan, Kristian and Ali,” Neumann said. “To race with Kristian breathing down your neck … there’s no bullshit science – just a power meter and lots of hard work.”