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Triathlon’s biggest payday – PTO Championship recap

Canada's Paula Findlay and Norway's Gustav Iden take $100,000 chunks of the $1.15 million prize purse

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

You don’t have to have been involved in the sport for very long, or even an avid triathlete, to remember the tears on the finish line at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Hobbled by injury, Paula Findlay, who had been lauded as a potential gold medalist a year earlier throughout Canada, struggled to get to the line. During an interview she apologized to the Canadian public.

There was no need for that apology, and today there were tears at the line yet again, but these ones were decidedly different at Paula Findlay 2.0 proved that once again she is back at the top of the triathlon world. Thanks to an impressive all-around performance that saw her come out of the water at the tail end of the chase pack, ride to the front of the race with an impressive show of power followed by one of the day’s most impressive run splits, Findlay topped the stacked field for her second straight win here at Daytona International Speedway.

All-around performances rule the day

Great Britain’s Lucy Hall was first out of the water, managing to even gap super-swimmer Lauran Brandon by eight seconds. Findlay was in a group that included Fenella Langridge, Holly Lawrence, Jodie Stimpson, Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden.

Out on the bike it was Findlay who quickly took control, with Norden staying close behind until just passed the halfway point of the 80 km bike ride, where the Swede moved in front and pushed to the line. Findlay beat the Olympic silver medalist out to the run course, though.

Behind those two came Kimberly Morrison followed by the German connection of Anne Haug and Laura Philipp. Early on in the bike Haug had found herself in a tight position trying to get past a group of riders and was hit by the officials with a penalty, so she had to spend two minutes in the penalty tent right after transition before she could get started on the run.

Meanwhile, almost at the back-stretch with what was now a lead of almost six minutes on the only woman with the run-firepower to catch her, Findlay was striding along looking not a whole lot unlike the young woman who won five WTS titles, which is still more than any other Canadian. Haug might have powered through the field to take second, but Findlay managed to take the penalty out of the equation by running just 1:25 slower than the German Ironman world champion, leaving her 2:37 clear for a solid win and a $100,000 piece of the $1.15 million prize purse.

“I was so shocked,” Findlay said of her win. “In a field like this I thought maybe a top-ten would be great. I felt really good all day. It was one of those perfect days that you don’t get very often.”

There are those who might argue she had a similar day a year ago here when she won in Daytona, but who wants to be picky. The bottom line is Paula Findlay is most definitely back at the top of her game, and while it might be a shocker for her, the rest of us aren’t even remotely suprised.

Name Total 2 km Swim 80 km Bike 18 km Run
1 Paula Findlay 3:24:56 25:02 1:51:13 1:06:26
2 Anne Haug 3:27:33 25:55 1:54:26 1:05:01
3 Laura Philipp 3:30:02 26:55 1:53:12 1:07:24
4 Holly Lawrence 3:31:11 24:59 1:55:39 1:08:27
5 Amelia Watkinson 3:32:51 25:58 1:55:06 1:08:39

Sanders rallies for fourth, Iden takes another big win

The stacked men’s race began with a World-Triathlon-lookalike swim pack leading the way through the water as Henri Schoeman led the way out of the water ahead of a large group that included most of the favourites, including the two men who finished on the podium at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

Once out on the bike much of that large group powered away in front, working hard to figure out how to stay 20 m behind the speedster ahead of them, which became a challenge at times as they faced a stiff headwind down the Daytona International Speedway’s back stretch. Eventually some of the cycling powerhouses we expected to make a dent in the lead group worked their way towards the front – Lionel Sanders, Sam Long, Magnus Ditlev and Sebastian Kienle seemed to be making up ground at some point, but no one put in a dominant enough bike split to ride clear. Kienle started to fade badly, though, eventually pulling out of the race due to a calf injury.

Rudy von Berg was first into T2, but it wasn’t long before Alistair Brownlee was in front on the run course with von Berg, Sam Appleton, Thomas Davis, Timothy O’Donnell and Henri Schoeman all making appearances near the front. Jonny Brownlee and Vincent Luis ended up spending time in the penalty tent due to drafting penalties, which effectively put them out of the hunt for the win.

Heading into the second lap of the run Alistair Brownlee suddenly pulled to the side of the track and would eventually have to call it a day thanks to a torn calf muscle. Not long after that Gustav Iden glided by all the men who appeared to be ready to duke it out for the win, pulling clear and never looking back as he took his second major title in 15 months after his Ironman 70.3 World Championship win in Nice last year.

Behind him Matt Hanson used the day’s fastest run to work his way to second, while George Goodwin put together the race of his young career to take third. Sanders pushed hard over the tail end of the run but found himself just seven-seconds short of third.

Name Total 2 km Swim 80 km Bike 18 km Run
1 Gustav Iden 3:05:06 23:44 1:41:02 58:16
2 Matthew Hanson 3:05:57 24:40 1:41:45 57:22
3 George Goodwin 3:06:09 24:47 1:39:34 59:29
4 Lionel Sanders 3:06:16 25:54 1:38:30 59:47
5 Rudy von Berg 3:06:41 23:41 1:39:31 1:01:27