Chris McCormack is a huge fan of Kristian Blummenfelt – he openly admits it – but that doesn’t mean he is getting carried away by the ‘Norwegian hype train’.
Blummenfelt and his fellow Bergen boy Gustav Iden will head for the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship next month as two of THE favourites to reign in St George.
Kristian recently told our Mark Allen in his ‘The Road To St George’ series that the race for the win in Utah is between him, Gustav and German superstar Jan Frodeno. Well now three becomes two after Frodeno announced on Thursday that he will miss the race due to a small partial tear in his Achilles tendon.
Even before that news though, McCormack had tapped the brakes just a little, writing in a preview of the big race for the TRI247 newsletter.
Macca on Blummenfelt
“Kristian has done one race in Cozumel, as has Gustav in Florida – but you’re not racing the same people you raced in Cozumel. And it’s not Kona either.
“Kona is a completely different beast; comparing Kona and St George is like comparing the French Open with Wimbledon – two completely different things, both tennis tournaments but completely different environments and dynamics.
“It’s one thing to call it, but you’ve got to do it. And he does do that, which is what I like about Kristian: he calls what he wants to do and he does it. He got it right about the Olympics, but mate, the sun’s coming back out again. The COVID cloud’s done, and guys are coming back.
“Vincent Luis dominated in 2019 and 2020, and had the Olympics been that year he might have been Olympic champion. But Tokyo got moved to 2021, and Vincent wasn’t the same athlete. The question is: is Kristian Blummenfelt the same athlete in 2022 as he was in 2021?”
Backing up the talk
McCormack loved to build rivalries when he was racing, and he loves the supreme confidence and belief the Norwegians show in everything they do and say. But that doesn’t mean it comes without risk.
“I love the bravado, but it ain’t a three-horse race (in St George) and actually by saying that you’ve got a bit of mud on your face if you don’t get on the podium. And a mechanical again would be a bummer of a reason.
“One mechanical a season or two, I can understand. If you get four mechanicals in a 12-month period you need to speak to your manufacturers and suppliers and get better products. I think it’s important we all see the best of the best.”
A feature of the last couple of weeks has been the back and forth between Blummenfelt and British star Joe Skipper – resulting in that ‘hype train’ narrative. McCormack believes Skipper has a shot to do well in St George, despite that disappointing fourth at IRONMAN South Africa earlier this month. Assuming he recovers well from a recent bout of COVID of course.
“I think Joe Skipper is strong enough to do something there; that South Africa performance was a little aberration for me because he had such momentum and was on a roll. No disrespect to the podium there; he did have a mechanical problem on the bike which cost him, but I still think he could have been a little bit stronger.”
So now we begin the final countdown to St George with the race under a month away. The Norwegians will go there supremely confident, and expected to deliver. But there will be high-profile dangers lying in wait.
“All the pressure’s on Gustav and Kristian,” said McCormack.