The PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® was a memorable event for a number of reasons – the greatest triathlon starting line ever assembled, the biggest prize purse in triathlon history and some exceptional performances at the world-famous Daytona Speedway®.
Arguably one of the most impressive performances was that of Danish star Magnus Elbæk Ditlev on the bike to push himself into contention.
The 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia champion found himself towards the back of the pack after the swim, forcing the 23-year-old to produce the ride of his life to get into the top 20.
A 14th place finish for the Dane earned him €10,000 – an achievement that looked spectacular after the swim, but which could also be described as a disappointment after the bike stage.
40th coming out of the water
It was a swim to forget for Magnus, who finished the 2km swim two and a half minutes behind the leading pack in 40th position.
“Losing more than two and a half minutes to the front group on the swim is completely unacceptable if you want to have a shot for the top spots in a big race like the PTO championships,” he commented.
“Since the race I’ve taken some time to critically reassess my stroke and technique together with experts that know much more about swimming than myself and we’ve found some quite inconvenient patterns of movement.”
“I’m stunned to see someone ride like this”
However, his cycling performance was a complete contrast, causing Alicia Kaye, who was covering the race for the PTO’s live stream to say: “I’m speechless. Magnus for 15, 20 seconds – I’ve just watched him go by the entire field. I’m stunned to see someone riding like this.”
In those 20 seconds the Dane passed the first five competitors on lap 13 of the 20-lap bike circuit to take the lead.
“Watched this video [of those 20 seconds] probably 1,000 times,” he posted on Instagram. “It still gives me goosebumps.”
His 1:38:12 split on the bike was the fastest in the field, bridging the two-and-a-half-minute deficit he had conceded during the 2km swim.
“I lost my nutrition at the start of the bike and I thought I would never get back into the race,” he said.
“To bridge the gap to the front guys, taking the lead halfway through the bike and feeling amazing at the 4 km run mark was part of the emotional rollercoaster of the event.”
Paying the price
Just after the 4km mark on the run, Magnus – who had been running comfortably with the leading pack of Rudy Von Berg and Alistair Brownlee cramped up – paying the price for the lack of nutrition during the frantic bike split.
“I was barely able to walk, barely able to get back running again,” he posted on social media after the race as he dropped back through the field and was overtaken by eventual winner Gustav Iden and podium placers Matt Hanson and George Goodwin.
Despite dropping all the way back to 14th in the final standings, Magnus commented: “It was an absolutely amazing experience and an honour to be a part of such a great event. Thank you to the PTO.
“Motivation towards 2021 couldn’t be higher, but first some down time.”