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The sprint goes to the Paris-bound Olympian in photo finish at T100 San Francisco

Marten Van Riel takes the photo finish over Kyle Smith for a confidence-boost win before the Olympics in Paris

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Lest there be any doubt of what men’s T100 racing is going to look like after the Paris Olympics, today’s event in San Francisco provided a pretty good peek into the future. With a few hundred metres to go, three men were running side by side. And, in the end it likely comes as little surprise that it was the only one of the three who will be competing at this summer’s Olympic Games ho came out in front … but only just as Belgium’s Marten Van Riel managed to outsprint New Zealand’s Kyle Smith for the win, with reigning 70.3 world champ Rico Bogen rounding out the podium after finishing three seconds behind the other two.

With a raft of Olympic-distance speedsters ready to move up after the Games in Paris this summer, the long-distance race scene is likely to feature more finishes like today’s.

Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

You had an idea that the day was going to be fast as the men charged out of the freezing water with the view of Alcatraz prison in the background, having averaged a speedy 43 seconds/ 100 m. Leading the way was four-time Escape from Alcatraz champ Ben Kanute with Germany’s Rico Bogen alongside – the pair finished in a speedy 14:08. The word is that the course wasn’t short – the athletes were swimming with an incredible current. The current helped even the weakest swimmers in the mix – just 1:10 separated the entire men’s field with American Sam Long less than a minute behind for the long run from the swim exit to T1.

Out on the challenging bike course a group of nine men separated themselves from the rest of the field, with Long leading the way into the transition ahead of France’s Clement Mignon and Mathis Margirier, Smith, American Rudy von Berg, Bogen along with German compatriot Mika Node, Van Riel and Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev.

Once out on the run it quickly became apparent that Smith, Van Riel and Bogen were in a class of their own. By the halfway point of the run they were a minute up. Smith kept the pressure on, which almost worked. According to Van Riel, he had to “back his sprint” because he was simply too tired to try anything else as Smith and Bogen kept pushing for the line.

Bogen would make the first move, only to be passed by the other two, setting up the sprint for the line, which eventually went to the Belgian (3:18:21, with Smith finishing in the same time and Bogen coming across the line in 3:18:24).

“I’m super excited like to win a long-distance race that came down to such a close margin,” Van Riel said after the race. “It feels incredible to be the one that takes it.”
Behind the three speedsters on the run, Ditlev would signal his recovery from the broken wrist he sustained in training just before T100 Singapore by taking fourth, with Noodt finishing ahead of Margirier for fourth. Von Berg would take the “top-American” title in seventh, with Long one spot behind.