CHALLENGEMIAMI® promised spectacular speedway racing action and with a stellar field vying for a $50,000 prize purse, the event didn’t disappoint.
The Big Stories
In the women’s race, it was no surprise to see Charles-Barclay (PTO #2) lead the swim, but the Brit had company with former Olympic breaststroker and World Triathlon racer Sara Perez. Leaving the water, the pair had a lead of 1:23 to chasers including Paula Findlay (PTO #8) and Jodie Stimpson.
Charles-Barclay and Perez shared the lead for the whole bike but passing a lapped athlete on the left meant Charles-Barclay incurred a two-minute time penalty. As Perez headed out of T2, Charles-Barclay served her time-out meaning she started the run with Stimpson, who had been just over two-minutes back.
The British pair quickly passed a flagging Findlay and averaging 3:43/km pace, Stimpson dropped her compatriot and cruised past Perez into first on lap four of seven. Making it look easy, the Brit ran away to an emotional win, rocketing the former Commonwealth gold medallist into contention Collins Cup selection.
“I am absolutely stoked!” said Stimpson at the finish. “This is an absolutely stellar field… you’ve got Lucy Charles, you’ve got Paula Findlay who absolutely dominated in Daytona… this field is absolutely stacked and of course, I’m so happy to come out on top today.”
Showing her class as PTO #2 and further cementing her automatic qualification spot for the Collins Cup, Charles-Barclay came in second despite the penalty.
“It’s a bit bittersweet,” said Charles-Barclay. “I mean I’m just so happy to be back racing. It’s been 15 months and I was definitely a bit rusty and made a few mistakes, but Jodie was just all class on that run.”
Meanwhile, Jackie Hering (PTO #20) ran up into third, her run split second only to Stimpson – only helping her case as a possible captain’s pick contender.
In the men’s race, Ben Kanute (PTO #47) led out the water with Jan Frodeno (PTO #1) close behind, the German quickly taking the lead on two wheels. By halfway on the bike, Andrew Starykowicz (PTO #34) had stormed into the lead.
The American’s 21-second advantage off the bike was dispatched by Frodeno within 200m. From there, it was clear that the race was sewn up. No-one was able to touch the three-time Hawaii winner on his way to first place, the world number one delivering a physical and psychological blow to any would-be Collins Cup challengers.
“There’s always an expectation,” said Frodeno at the finish. “I always expect the most. I wake up at 3am in the morning because I’m just nervous – I’m a little kid and then I come out and I’ve got good legs… it’s just awesome to be able to push yourself and really go to that limit.”
Behind, Lionel Sanders (PTO #5) tore through the field, snapping the elastic to everyone who tried to hold on to him. While his swim deficit ultimately meant no head-to-head battle with his hero-come-nemesis, the Canadian turned himself inside out in the chase, finishing well ahead of third-placed Kanute.
Once again marking himself out as a fearsome competitor for his Team USA and Team Europe rivals, Sanders spoke about never giving up and racing against Frodeno.
“I’m going to fight to the very last second,” he said. “I think the moment I stop fighting will probably be the end of my career.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m going up against Tiger Woods in his prime… no one was winning against Tiger in his prime and that’s what it’s like with this guy. At the very least it makes you a better athlete and a better person.”
As the top seeds for the European and Internationals Collins Cup teams, the stage is set for another clash of these triathlon titans in August.
Paula Findlay’s seventh place might not be what the Canadian was looking for, but the two-time Daytona winner was still the top International region finisher. She came ahead of the two athletes above her in the rankings – Carrie Lester and Sarah Crowley – so is surely a must-have for the Collins Cup.
Skye Moench finished in fifth with a strong all-round race, solidifying her standing as the USA’s top-ranked athlete.
Ben Kanute managed to pass Chris Leiferman for third in the final lap, the ninth-ranked US athlete taking out his fifth-ranked compatriot and giving the team captains some food for thought.
Matt Hanson (PTO #9) once again proved his superior run speed, clocking in at a staggering 3:14/km average pace making him an ideal tactical match-up against Team Europe and Team International’s fastest runners in the Collins Cup.
Another exciting Collins Cup matchup could be the USA’s Andrew Starykowicz and Europe’s Magnus Ditlev (PTO #38), both over a minute faster on the bike than Jan Frodeno, showing their prowess on two wheels.