Lionel Sanders’ team took the win at the inaugural Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) Pro Am event that was part of the Herbalife23 Triathlon Los Angeles on the weekend. The six-team event included a number of Challenged Athletes Foundation stars competing on relay teams along with PTO professionals.
“Three-time Paralympian Chris Hammer (Team Jackson) and 2019 World Para Swimming Championships silver medallist Ahalya Lettenberger (Team Chura) traded the lead in the water, but it wasn’t long before an excellent swim from Endeavor Games silver medallist, Haven Shepherd, put Lionel Sanders into the race and, soon after, the lead,” the PTO reported. “Sam Long was next onto the bike thanks to a great swim from three-time Paralympic swimmer-turned-rock climber Emily Gray. Meanwhile, 17-time World Triathlon Paratriathlon event gold medallist Allysa Seely and number one in the US Paralympic 100m freestyler Jamal Hill passed the baton to Daniel Baekkegard and Skye Moench respectively.”
Sanders used the day’s fastest bike split to set his team up for victory as Felder, who has become an avid triathlete of late, set a 10 km PB to bring the team across the line in first. Team (Daniel) Baekkegard took second with Modern Pentathlon Olympic silver medalist Heather Fell anchoring the team, while Team (Sam) Long, who had Rudy Garcia-Tolson doing the run, took third.
“I knew they had assembled a strong team because we were going to dominate this event from start to finish,” said Sanders. “Haven got us a big lead and then I just tried to hang on to it and then Paul brought it home so it was a lot of fun… It was a full-blown competition. I knew I’d be out here trying to compare my bike time to the pros and to Sam Long and to Daniel [Baekkegard] so I rode as hard as I can and I’m excited to go look at the results and see where I stacked in the bike portion of the race.”
There was US$100,000 up for grabs in the elite race courtesy of the PTO. The men’s race saw South African Jamie Riddle out-kicking American Eric Lagerstrom for the men’s win. Australia’s Steve McKenna would round out the podium. For the women, Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes led the entire race to take the women’s win. American Amy Sloan trailed New Zealand’s Amelia Watkinson off the bike, but would outrun the Kiwi for the runner-up spot in the race.