Norway’s Gustav Iden has become the first ever PTO Canadian Open Champion, proving himself the strongest in a dramatic race in Edmonton.
The inaugural PTO Canadian Open promised to take the sport to the next level and just as with the women’s race, the men’s event delivered all the action, thrills and emotion to take triathlon up a notch. With a $1m prize purse and $100,000 on the line for the winner, it was a hotly fought contest with the world’s best athletes fighting it out for victory.
How It Played Out
Henri Schoeman – a wildcard entry to this race making a bid for a Collins Cup slot – quickly formed the point of the spear in the swim. The South African broke away to lead a pack of six including Australian wildcard Aaron Royle (PTO World #100), the USA’s Ben Kanute (PTO World #18), GBR’s Alistair Brownlee, France’s Sam Laidlow (PTO World #20) and New Zealand’s Kyle Smith (PTO World #25).
Pre-race favourites Kristian Blummenfelt (PTO World #1) and Gustav Iden (PTO World #3) were in the second pack, over a minute behind by the end of the swim along with Frederic Funk (PTO World #28). Meanwhile, Canadian favourite Lionel Sanders mounted his bike with 4:06 to make up, having been dropped in the swim and putting in the day’s slowest transition.
Brownlee quickly found the front on the bike and began putting the chasers under pressure with Sam Laidlow the only athlete to hold with the Brit. By halfway on the bike, Laidlow and Brownlee had a lead of 47 seconds to Smith with Iden and Blummenfelt now sat in fourth and fifth at 1:32 back, beginning to eat into their deficit. Sanders had lost more time at 4:13 but having moved up from 34th to 20th on the course.
Iden continued to push the pedals hard in the bike’s closing stages, reducing the deficit to the leaders to 1:02 as he ran out of transition having brought Blummenfelt and Funk along for the ride, with Royle another 20 seconds back in sixth and Sanders in 11th with 3:19 to make up.
Laidlow began the run at a ferocious pace, immediately dropping the British double-Olympic champion. Behind, Iden and Blummenfelt were running shoulder-to-shoulder taking chunks of time out of the leaders. Before long, Alistair Brownlee was reduced to a walk as he grimaced holding his sides. The Yorkshireman would battle gamely on but end the day in 24th place.
After the Norwegian pair overtook Laidlow, the drama continued as early in the second lap as Blummentfelt suddenly stopped running holding a cramp in his hip. He would get going again but the world number one would lose around 1:30 to his countryman in the process.
Then, another victim of cramp – Laidlow was forced to hobble to the nearest Precision Fuel and Hydration station before being able to pick the pace up again.
Coming onto the final lap, Iden remained in the lead but a recovered Blummenfelt was running quicker, steadily closing the gap. Royle was in third, three minutes down, with Laidlow in fourth and Pieter Heemeryck in fifth ahead of Funk. Meanwhile, Sanders, off the bike in 11th, was up to seventh.
Hitting the finishing straight, Iden broke into a smile, high-fiving fans to take the tape only to collapse exhausted to the ground, $100,000 richer and the first-ever PTO Canadian Open Champion.
Blummenfelt was second, only 27 seconds behind – securing $70,000 and a Norwegian one-two. Aaron Royle took third and a $50,000 paycheck – a big statement to the Team Internationals Collins Cup captains.
Laidlow hung tough for fourth and $40,000 while Funk’s late surge put him in fifth to take $35,000 ahead of Heemeryck’s sixth-place, $30,000 finish – all three attention-grabbing performances making selection tough for the Team Europe Collins Cup captains.
Sanders finished the day in seventh place, battling on through a less-than-perfect day to take home $25,000.
Remaining places and prize money
- 8th – Max Neumann – $20,000
- 9th – Kyle Smith – $18,000
- 10th – Miki Taagholt – $16,000
- 11th – Collin Chartier – $14,000
- 12th – Sebastian Kienle – $13,000
- 13th – Clement Mignon – $12,000
- 14th – Matt McElroy – $11,000
- 15th – Filipe Azevedo – $10,000
- 16th – Pablo Dapena Gonzalez – $9,000
- 17th – David McNamee – $8,000
- 18th – Thomas Steger – $7,000
- 19th – Jackson Laundry – $6,000
- 20th – Jason West – $5,000
All other athletes – $2,000
Watch The Full Replay
You can watch the full race replay on PTO+ (available from Tuesday evening in Europe and the Indian Subcontinent.