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The race for the #1 PTO World Ranking: Frodeno and Iden duel at Ironman California

Race in Sacramento will determine top-ranked athlete for 2021

Photo by: Professional Triathletes Organisation

Canadian triathlon fans were excited to see that Lionel Sanders had joined the mix for this weekend’s Ironman California race this weekend, but for the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) this weekend’s race will showcase a close race for the top spot in the PTO World Rankings.

Germany’s Jan Frodeno has been atop the standings pretty much since the PTO announced them, only to have Norway’s Gustav Iden sneak ahead thanks to his successful defence of his Ironman 70.3 World Championship title in St. George last month.

Related: Canadian pro’s predictions for Ironman California

Frodeno on the bike at the Tri-Battle Royale. Photo: tri-battle.com

Three best races

The PTO World Rankings are based on an athlete’s best three races of the year. Iden’s three best races this year netted him 111.34, 110.18 and 100.12 points, which averages out to 107.21. Frodeno’s three best races earned him 112.86, 107.51 and 88.10 points – his average is 102.82 points. A win this weekend will likely put Frodeno back on top of the rankings – in all but one of his long-distance races since 2015 (the exception being the 2017 Ironman World Championship when he was forced to walk the marathon due to a back injury) Frodeno has averaged 108.83 points.

This is Iden’s first long-distance race, but many anticipate that he can very much be in the mix this weekend. While he spent much of the year focussed on the Olympics in Tokyo, he and his teammate Kristian Blummenfelt tend to follow a demanding training schedule that often includes some very high-volume efforts in all three sports.

Gustav Iden on his way to a success title defence at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George. Photo: Jordan Bryden

Related: Sanders back in for Ironman California

$2 million bonus pool

The final PTO World Rankings will be decided at the end of the year, with the top PTO professionals sharing US$2 million. Frodeno and Iden won’t be pushing for the number one spot in the interests of money – the winner will receive $100,000, while the runner-up will take home $90,000. As much as the $10,000 would be nice, one imagines that both these world champions are after the top spot in the standings.

Regardless, the event will make for some riveting watching, especially with the addition of Sanders to the mix.