With the PTO Tour announcement drawing closer, news is starting to filter through from professional long course athletes who are opting to turn down contracts in favour of racing the IRONMAN Pro Series.
Patrick Lange, who is the PTO World #10 and has made two appearances for Team Europe at the Collins Cup, became the latest high profile name to commit to the new IRONMAN Pro Series yesterday with an announcement on Instagram.
The two-time IRONMAN World Champion, who finished second behind Sam Laidlow in Nice last September, said that Kona remained his number one goal for the upcoming season.
“I’ve decided to stay true to my path”
The 37-year-old German, who won the last of his world championship titles in 2018, was a force to be reckoned with last season, coming up just short of a big win at both Challenge Roth and the IRONMAN World Championship.
Explaining his decision to continue chasing success at the full distance events, Lange said that whilst he is sure the PTO Tour will be an incredible spectacle, the Ironman distance is what it’s all about for him.
“Life’s about choices, and I’ve made mine. After ending 2023 in the 10th spot on the PTO ranking, I received an invitation to join the newly arranged PTO Tour. Massive shout out and thanks to @professionaltriathletesorg for setting up quite a show!
“I am sure it will be a great year. However, I’ve decided to stay true to my path. With the IRONMAN Pro Series and the incredible races to choose from, my focus is on long course racing, Kona remains the ultimate goal!”
Bucket list race incoming
Hinting towards his next race, Lange said that there are other events he would like to take a crack at this season, with the next one on the calendar one he has wanted to do for some time.
“Sure, my eyes are not ‘only’ set on Kona. Exciting times ahead, and my first race of the year is one that’s been on my bucket list for too long. Decision made, eyes set on a big season! Stay tuned for updates.”
With the IRONMAN Pro Series set to kick off in April at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside, it will be interesting to see if the German flies out to race the iconic middle distance event for the first time.
Having dropped down in distance for his first race of 2023 at Challenge Gran Canaria, a season opener in sunny California could be on the cards.