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Marten Van Riel “almost tripped twice” in that BLOCKBUSTER sprint finish at San Francisco T100

Belgian star admits it could all have ended very differently after that epic three-way sprint for the win at the San Francisco T100.

Staff Reporter
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Marten Van Riel says he was pushed to the absolute limit by both of his rivals – and the grass surface – in that epic sprint finish at the San Francisco T100.

That’s now five wins out of five at middle distance for the Belgian but this was by far the biggest – and the closest – as he and Kyle Smith lunged for the tape in unison at the end of the 100km, with reigning IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Rico Bogen just three seconds behind after a nail-biting three-way battle.

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“I wasn’t expecting it to be grass”

Van Riel, who is targeting a medal at the Paris Olympics next month, looked to have timed his sprint to perfection but admitted that not only was he caught out by the grass on the finishing straight but also battled a number of demons in the desperate closing stages when he thought he was beaten.

He explained in his post-race interview on the live broadcast: “I wasn’t expecting it to be grass on the home stretch, I almost tripped twice.

“In the last 200m I thought three times that Kyle was going to get it, but I just didn’t want to stop sprinting and going all out and it ended up being so close.

“I gave it everything I had and it was incredible – once I crossed the line, I knew I had it.”

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All about the final 200 metres

After what he described as a sub-par swim in difficult conditions, Van Riel broke away with Bogen and Smith on the bike, which helped keep the trio out of trouble on a challenging course.

Talking through the race as a whole, Van Riel added: “My swim wasn’t very good, it was super choppy and a very difficult swim, which weirdly made it more bunched up.

“On the bike, the three guys who sprinted for the win were away for four of the six laps, which was nice because we could just safely ride.”

After a poor transition, Van Riel was on the back foot, which he said almost cost him the race, as he used up a lot of energy to reel in Smith.

“Coming off the bike I let some others pass me and had a really bad transition. At the start of the run, I saw Kyle go off the front and I knew before the race that he would be the most dangerous guy, so I tried to close the deficit quickly on the first lap and almost broke myself there. I had to recover from that pretty much until the last 200m.”

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More of the same please

And the man he beat was rightly taking nothing but encouragement from the race, with Smith writing on his Instagram page: “Bwoahh what a race 🥈 2nd place in an epic 3 up sprint finish and getting pipped by 1cm by the better man today @martenvanriel

“I gave it absolutely everything and I’m over the moon with that.

“It’s fair to say @t100triathlon San Francisco absolutely delivered.”

And the good news for triathlon fans is that Van Riel reckons more finishes like that are in the offing as the biggest names continue to square up against each other in the PTO’s T100 series.

He explained: “This is something we have not had for a long time in middle-distance triathlon [but] because T100 manages to get the best athletes in the world on the start line, I am sure there will be more close racing in the future and I hope to be a part of that.”

T100 San Francisco 2024 Men sprint finish - Marten Van Riel, Kyle Smith, Rico Bogen
[Photo Credit – PTO]

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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