Kristian Blummenfelt produced a decisive break on the 10km run to win Olympic men’s triathlon gold for Norway in Tokyo early on Monday.
Blummenfelt broke his nearest rivals Alex Yee of Great Britain and Hayden Wilde of New Zealand with around 1km to go, and claimed an emphatic victory.
Yee would claim silver for Great Britain, with Wilde taking the bronze. Britain’s other representative, Jonny Brownlee, finished fifth with a exceptionally strong performance, just behind Belgium’s Martin Van Riel in fourth, a two place improvement on his sixth position in Rio.
Swim – Luis sets early pace
Luis, without a win so far in 2021. after stellar years in 2019 and 2020, was quickly into top gear in the warm waters and set the pace. He came out of the water first in 17:39, with the British pair of Brownlee and Yee 11 and 30 seconds back respectively.
This after incredible scenes as the race began with an unprecedented false start. Half of the field dived into the water as the gun sounded but the remainder were unable to – their way blocked by a huge boat. Absolute carnage as you can imagine but thankfully no injuries to report.
Bike – big guns all in contention
Luis set off on the bike heading a leading pack of around 10 riders – and by the time they reached the end of the first lap it was New Zealander Taylor Reid and Brownlee heading that group. The chasers, with Yee and Blummenfelt prominent, were around 18 seconds back as the race settled down.
The chase group – comprising around 20 riders – made moves on Lap three to start to close that gap, and it was down to 12 seconds by the time they headed over the start line again. There was bad news for American Morgan Pearson though, who had picked up a 15-second penalty for his equipment being outside his box in T1.
As the fourth lap finished we had one lead group of around 25 riders, with Yee now part of it and just four seconds off the lead set by the breaking Stefan Zachaus of Luxembourg. The Norwegians (Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes) were also very much in play.
Lap five brought devastation for Austrian Alois Knabl, whose race came to a premature end after a collision with Germany’s Jonas Schomburg. The latter was able to continue, but with a deficit to make up as a result. Meanwhile at the front Zachaus continued to lead them over the line into Lap 6, but was coming back to the rest of the pack after that mini-break. That main group now comprised 37 riders – with all of the big guns primed to contend.
As Lap six concluded, with just two more to go, Zachaus was no longer in front and it was Blummenfelt taking them across the line. Luis and Yee were literally metres behind as that massive lead group continued to wind up towards T2 and the run.
We had another athlete bidding to make a break on Lap seven, in the shape of Swiss star Andrea Salvisberg. He led by 21 seconds from the main pack headed by Blummenfelt as they began the final lap of the bike leg.
Salvisberg continued to lead the way into T2 and exited with a lead of 14 seconds from Stornes and Reid. Brownlee and Yee were very close behind, still prominent in that massive chasing pack.
Run – Blummenfelt breaks them
Salvisberg was gobbled up by the chasing pack very early in the 10km run, and it was British young gun Yee who now led as the race and the Tokyo temperature started to hot up.
The lead pack had been cut down to just nine athletes as the conditions began to take a toll, but Yee still looked comfortable at the front with British team-mate Brownlee still hanging on in there towards the rear of that group.
As the leaders hit halfway in the run it was still Yee at the front with Wilde and Blummenfelt in close contention. Brownlee was just off the pack, desperately trying to hang on. By now though the rest were spread out in the brutal conditions.
The pace at the front was gradually winding up and as the leaders took the bell the front pack was three – Yee, Blummenfelt and Wilde – with Brownlee still vainly trying to keep the leaders in sight.
The Norwegian Blummenfelt and then Wilde took up the running early in the final lap with Yee still very much in contention. Blummenfelt then tried to make a decisive move with Yee trying to go with him. Kristian was really grimacing and looking behind him as he surged clear with about 1km to go.
The break was indeed decisive as he continued to build a lead, while Yee had to settle for a highly creditable silver. Wilde meanwhile claimed the bronze for New Zealand.
Men’s Olympic triathlon results
Tokyo – Monday July 26, 2021
- Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) – 1:45:04
- Alex Yee (GBR) – 1:45:15
- Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 1:45:24
- Marten Van Riel (BEL) – 1:45:52
- Jonny Brownlee (GBR) – 1:45:53
- Kevin McDowell (USA) – 1:45:54
- Bence Bicsak (HUN) – 1:45:56
- Gustav Iden (NOR) – 1:46:00
- Max Studer (SUI) – 1:46:06
- Mario Mola (ESP) – 1:46:13
- Casper Stornes (NOR) – 1:46:19
- Fernando Alarza (ESP) – 1:46:22
- Vincent Luis (FRA) – 1:46:24
- Keni Nener (JPN) – 1:46:24
- Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) – 1:46:28