Singapore: Despite only arriving the day before from his exploits at the Olympic test event in Paris, PTO World #1 Kristian Blummenfelt blew away a strong field in a hot and humid Singapore to claim his first PTO Tour title this evening, by winning the PTO Asian Open.
Having been trying to land a PTO title since Daytona in 2020, it took a whirlwind trip to the iconic city of Singapore to finally land the one major triathlon title that has eluded him.
The Norwegian can now add a PTO Tour win to his glittering CV alongside Olympic gold and both a full Ironman and 70.3 World Championships.
“I’m very happy and relieved,” he said after crossing the line ahead almost two minutes ahead of second placed Belgium Pieter Heemeryck. “It’s something I’ve been chasing for three years now and to finally be able to take this is a massive relief. It’s been a long time coming since the PTO 2020 Championship in Daytona and I really wanted to win a PTO race.”
“Two weeks ago at the PTO US Open, 60km into the bike leg, I thought I had it in my pocket but it sort of slipped out when I cramped coming off the bike so you can’t really celebrate too early. When I finally knew I have a PTO Tour win, it’s what I felt I’ve been missing. The atmosphere with all the people on the course, wow, it’s something I’ve been working for for a long time.”
Heemeryck was surprised to have led the bike course from Blummenfelt and was pleased to finish second despite the win slipping from his grasp at the end.
He said: “I have to be honest, I never thought that was going to ride away from this field. So it was a little bit surprising. When I saw Kristian running and I knew he’s going to get me but I have to be very…. patient because at the end, you want to be on the podium here. When I saw Jason, I really thought that he was going to get me also. But at the end, I finished with a strong run. It was a hot and hard race, but a fun one. The laps on the bike were beautiful and coming into the transition area, there were a lot of people supporting the race. At the end, I had a good day.”
How the race unfolded
As opposed to the downpours ahead of the women’s race, the men got underway in Singapore’s signature heat and humidity – the city’s stunning skyline providing a fittingly dramatic backdrop for high-octane racing at the PTO Asian Open.
The group stayed largely together in the swim and after Josh Amberger (PTO World #35) led the first 1000m, he waved through Aaron Royle (PTO World #17) who navigated the remainder of the 2km course to enter T1 first. The big athlete to get distanced was the Big Unit himself, Sam Long (PTO World #3), who was 17th, 3:56 off the pace.
As the 80km bike course unfolded, the 10% grades up the Benjamin Sheares Bridge provided the opportunity for moves to happen. Wildcard Mike Noodt was the early aggressor heading to the front ahead of PTO World #1 Kristian Blummenfelt. By the start of the second 10km lap, it was Pieter Heemeryck (PTO World #13) who put the hammer down to pull away from the rest of the field.
There was plenty of drama on the bike with Sam Laidlow (PTO World #8) retiring due to illness and Gustav Iden, Royle and Jason West (PTO World #7) all taking spills while flat tyres and mechanicals added to the jeopardy.
By T2, Heemeryck had a lead of 2:18 over Blummenfelt while West – second in the US Open with a colossal run – was in 8th place, 5:13 back.
Heemeryck was running well, but after a swift transition, it was clear that Blummenfelt’s packed fortnight race schedule – US Open, Paris Olympic Test Event and Asian Open – hadn’t dented his speed. By 10km, the Norwegian had Heemeryck in his sights and moments later steamrollered into the lead.
Behind, West was initially matching Blummenfelt’s pace but as the kilometres wore on, the US athlete’s foot speed dropped a little – taking away his chances to top the podium.
There was more action behind, too, as Long tore through the field. Having come off the bike in 9th place, 5:13 off the lead, the American – just two weeks after the birth of his first child – ran hard to move up into 5th and get Daniel Baekkegard (PTO World #9) in his sights.
Soon though, it became clear the biggest late-mover of the day was Denis Chevrot (PTO World #22). The Frenchman was off the bike in 14th and then suddenly, with 1km to go, had crept on the shoulder of Long. The pair pushed past Baekkegard but it was Chevrot who had the stronger legs to pull away from the US star.
At the head of affairs, Kristian Blummenfelt scored his first PTO Tour win in 3:20:48 – taking a $100,000 payday. Heemeryck, strong to the last, made sure 2nd place was locked in along with $50,000. Jason West once again proved himself an athlete to be feared on the run, taking 3rd and $35,000.
With his late surge, Chevrot claimed 4th place and $20,000, leaving Long to take his second 5th place in as many weeks and $14,000.
- Kristian Blummenfelt – $100,000
- Peter Heemeryck – $50,000
- Jason West – $35,000
- Denis Chevrot – $20,000
- Sam Long – $14,000
- Daniel Baekkegard – $10,000
- Kacper Stepniak – $8,500
- Aaron Royle – $8,000
- Samuel Appleton – $7,500
- David McNamee- $7,000
The PTO Asian Open weekend saw over 6,000 participants in a fun-filled event at the Marina Bay, beginning with two duathlon races in the morning over a standard 4.5km Run/32km Bike/4.5km Run and a longer 9km Run/64km Bike/9km Run. These were followed by the 100km experienced amateur triathlon, which also saw past and present Team Singapore athletes strut their stuff in relay teams led by 2016 Olympic champion Joseph Schooling.
Schooling said: “Overall, I had a lot of fun. Rounding the buoys was something different, I’m used to turning in the pool. All the Team Singapore athletes did really well. Luke (Tan) did really well, I think he was maybe five or six body lengths in front of me or more because he hit it really well. I’ve traineded with him at the National Training Centre and his aerobic base good, I’m only a sprinter. Overall, I’m just happy to finish. I got a little nervous and excited a few days leading up to this. It was nice to be in a race atmosphere, in terms of nutrition and sleep time – that’s something I really missed as well. Going 20 times what I’m used to in terms of distance… it was out of my comfort zone and that was fun so yeah, I did miss it. Hopefully I get a chance to do it again next year and I’ll be better prepared.”
His chance will come sooner rather than later after the PTO also announced their 2024 Asian Open dates on Sunday. The 2024 PTO Asian Open will take place from April 12 to 14 and Heemeryck is already looking forward to returning to Singapore after an enjoyable first trip.
Speaking after the Men’s Pro Race, he said: “The bike course was the hardest because during the run it’s more cloudy but during the bike, it was the hottest. As you can see, now it’s perfect for running so maybe next year, we have to start one hour later. There are also a lot of parks here with many play areas and I saw so many kids, so I think maybe next year I have to take my kids and dogs here because they would find it so cool. I like the atmosphere and you see all the buildings which, as a Belgian, you’re not used to. So it was a good experience here.”
Sign-ups for the 100km experienced amateur triathlon are open at https://protriathletes.org. More information on the event will be made available soon.
For further information:
Anthony Scammell – [email protected]
About the Professional Triathletes Organisation
The PTO is a new body, co-owned by the professional athletes, seeking to elevate and grow the sport of Triathlon and take it to the next level. Each PTO Open is raced over 100km (2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run). The PTO European Open on 6 May kicked off the 2023 PTO Tour and was followed by the PTO US Open in Milwaukee on 4-5 August, with this weekend’s PTO Asian Open in Singapore finishing things off. The season is underpinned by the new PTO World Rankings, helping to create a compelling season-long narrative in the sport for the first time.