2021 continues to be a stellar year in the world of triathlon with the performance bar being raised at all distances ahead of the inaugural Collins Cup, which is now just a month away!
In this edition of the Tri Bulletin, we cover the Olympic individual races, the possibility of seeing an Olympic Champion at the Collins Cup and Jan Frodeno’s spectacular new world record at the Zwift Tri Battle Royale. We’ve also got news of Natascha Badmann becoming Team Europe captain, Swedish dominance at IM Lake Placid and the final broadcast team line-up for the Collins Cup.
Blummenfelt and Duffy Claim Olympic Gold
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt (PTO World #10) and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy claimed Olympic Gold in two thrilling individual triathlon races at Tokyo 2020.
Blummenfelt had to work hard at the start of the bike to bridge to a group of faster swimmers, creating a big pack of favourites that stayed together until the T2. Running side-by-side with Britain’s Alex Yee and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde, the trio shelled off all the other athletes with their savage pace until only they remained in the hunt for medals.
With around 1km to go, Blummenfelt put in his big attack – gritting his teeth with a relentless drive to the line the others couldn’t match. The Norwegian took Gold in 1:45:04 with an incredible 29:34 run despite the Tokyo heat, followed by Yee and Wilde.
In a rain-drenched women’s race, a swim a breakaway headlined by Flora Duffy, Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown and USA’s Katie Zaferes stayed clear of chasers on the bike. Taylor-Brown lost 22 seconds on the way to T2 due to a flat, but no one could match Duffy’s foot speed as the Bermudian pulled away from the start of the 10km.
Gaining more and more ground, throughout, Duffy crossed the line in tears after 1:55:36 of racing with a 33:00 run to claim Bermuda’s first-ever Olympic Gold medal. Meanwhile, Taylor-Brown managed to overhaul Zaferes for Silver while the American secured bronze.
Both Olympic champions have already qualified for the 70.3 worlds, having won events before Covid took hold – also making them eligible picks for the Collins Cup. Blummenfelt has stated his intention to win Kona this year and is set to do an Ironman in the coming weeks to qualify. At that point, he should jump up into at least fifth place for Team Europe in the Collins Cup rankings.
Meanwhile, Duffy, as Tokyo Gold medal winner and one of the fittest, fastest athletes on the planet will surely be an easy pick for Team Internationals captains Lisa Bentley and Simon Whitfield.
There’s still more exciting triathlon racing to come in Tokyo with this Saturday’s first-ever Olympic Mixed Relay event.
Jan Frodeno Sets New Iron-Distance Record
PTO World #1 Jan Frodeno set a new iron-distance world record of 7:27:53 at the Zwift Tri Battle Royale in Allgau, Germany on 18 July.
Going up against Team Internationals #1 Lionel Sanders, Frodeno put together a 45:58 swim, 3:55:22 bike and 2:44:21 run to secure the new world record – going 7:46 faster than his previous best set in Roth in 2016. Meanwhile, Sanders set a new PB of 7:43:28 thanks to a 50:58 swim, 4:00:26 bike and 2:50:31 run.
While Frodeno smashed the record over the Deutsche Triathlon Union-ratified course, it wasn’t plain sailing for either athlete. Heavy rain came down during the bike leg, compromising speed and adding a brisk chill factor as they rode at nearly 46km/h for four hours. On the run, Frodeno slipped on a section of wet carpet 10km in, landing hard on his hip. While a painful moment, Frodeno reportedly credited this occurrence as a key factor in his victory, the pain distracting from the same tightening back that forced him to walk in Kona 2017.
Both athletes slowed on the run, but Sanders had the worse time of it, the Canadian’s initial speed – set for a blistering 7:35 finish – costing him later on.
“That was hard, so unbelievably hard,” said Frodeno. “You haven’t done an Ironman for two years and you race it like a 70.3, that’s a mistake in the beginning…We dreamt of this but I didn’t have a time in my head. Lionel said he wanted to go 7:29 and I’m like ‘I’ve gotta go faster than that if he’s going 7:29’.
“Lionel is a great athlete who has pushed me further and further over the last two years.”
After crossing the finish with a grimace of agony, Sanders had a smile for Frodeno when he heard the German’s finishing time. “When he asked me to come, that’s an opportunity of a lifetime, to go up against literally your hero and to go toe-to-toe with him. I mean I don’t know how much I pushed him but it was an amazing experience…this is something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
Swiss Miss Natascha Badmann Joins Collins Cup
Six-time Kona winner Natascha Badmann has been announced as a Team Europe Collins Cup captain. Joining Normann Stadler to oversee Team Europe’s roster of 12 athletes at the event, Badmann can call on 25 years of experience as a pro triathlete and play a crucial tactical role thanks to the Collins Cup’s F1-style comms system between captains and athletes.
Badmann’s rookie Kona performance saw her take second to Paula Newby-Fraser in 1997, a breakthrough performance that she followed up with wins in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Even a savage bike crash in the 2007 race – an accident that required two shoulder surgeries – couldn’t keep her down. In 2011 she won Ironman South Africa and in 2012, at the age of 45, she set the fastest bike split in Hawaii.
A 2021 Ironman Hall of Fame inductee, Badmann takes the place of Chrissie Wellington as Team Europe captain – the latter unable to travel due to Covid restrictions. Meanwhile, the Team Internationals captains have been paired back to two. With Craig Alexander and Erin Baker also unable to travel, it’ll be down to Lisa Bentley and Simon Whitfield to guide the likes of Lionel Sanders and Teresa Adam to victory.
Swede Sweep At IM Lake Placid
IM Lake Placid featured two Swedish victors in Rasmus Svenningsson (PTO World #95) and iron-rookie Lisa Norden (PTO World #41).
In the men’s race, Svenningsson, who won his Kona age group in 2018, wiped away his 2:45 swim deficit on the bike by 60km before pulling away from the rest to earn a 2:11 lead to France’s Arnaud Guilloux.
From there he put together a solid 2:51 marathon on the challenging run course to stay ahead and cross the line in 8:13:25. Meanwhile, Guilloux held off a fast-charging Joe Skipper (Europe #3 / PTO World #6) to claim second.
For the women, Lisa Norden came out the water with 4:09 to make up, which she did to end the bike with a 6:11 lead on Heather Jackson (USA #2 / PTO World #18). Jackson began slicing chunks out of Norden’s advantage – getting the gap down to 50 seconds at 31km.
However, Jackson was soon halted due to cramps while Norden ran strongly to a debut Ironman victory in 9:11:26. Jackson had to settle for second seven minutes later while Switzerland’s Joanna Ryter made a name for herself with a blazing fast 2:57:30 marathon to claim third.
Collins Cup Broadcast Team Announced
The full Collins Cup broadcast team will combine master storytelling, presenting talent and triathlon experts to provide world-class coverage of the first Collins Cup on 28 August.
Anchored by longtime cycling commentator Phil Liggett, the incomparable ‘Voice of Cycling’ will be joined by experienced presenters Charlie Webster and Alex Payne, who sports fans might recognise from Wimbledon and Rugby Union broadcasts.
Meanwhile, the triathlon expertise will come from Belinda Granger – a former pro and a familiar voice from the PTO 2020 Championship in Daytona, former World Triathlon commentator Barrie Shepley, multiple world champion and podcast host Greg Bennett and Olympic Bronze medallist Vicky Holland.
Just a month away, the Collins Cup will be broadcast globally by Eurosport and Discovery+ as well as LAOLA1 in Austria and FujiTV in Japan