Patrik Nilsson on St George: Blu and Iden the stuff of nightmares

News Director
Last updated -
T100 Triathlon World Tour
Redefining triathlon

Patrik Nilsson says most elite triathletes will have one recurring nightmare ahead of the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in St George.

The showdown in Utah is now more open than ever, following the withdrawal of reigning champion Jan Frodeno along with the likes of Patrick Lange, Javier Gomez and Joe Skipper.

The 30-year-old Nilsson, who jetted out to Utah at the start of this week, believes most athletes lining up are at least known quantities – but there are two notable exceptions. That would be the Norwegian prodigies Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden.

Norwegian nightmares

Speaking during the official broadcast for IRONMAN Texas last Saturday, Nilsson explained: “It’s definitely going to be a different race. Most years you have Jan Frodeno being in the front in the swim, in the front in the bike, in front in the run. He’s the guy you want to beat, he’s the golden standard you want to achieve.

Jan Frodeno Zwift Tri Battle Royale 2021
Jan Frodeno misses IRONMAN WC at St George (Photo Credit: Joern Pollex).

“This year definitely I think it’s more open. With Jan out, with Patrick Lange out, with Javier Gomez out, there’s some good athletes not racing. So I think someone like Alistair Brownlee perhaps to get with Daniel Bækkegård, Max Neumann wanting to push the pace on the swim really to break away and get a gap to the two Norwegians.

“I think back in everyone’s head, when you wake up through the night screaming, I think everyone is watching Kristian and Gustav catching you on the run.

“They are the big question mark, where even if you assume they are not going to be in the mix or assume they are not going to be on the podium, they are definitely mentally going to mix up the race before the start, before the race even starts.

“Nobody really knows where they are. Someone like Gustav and Kristian, nobody really knows what they are going to do. So it’s going to be a tough race, it’s going to be furious, it’s going to be different. But I am definitely looking forward to it.”

North American stars Sam Long and Lionel Sanders will also start as major players, but Nilsson says at least there is enough evidence to be able to predict what they will do. Not so with the Norwegians.

“I think most athletes still know where both Sam and Lionel are at. You know they are good strong bikers, they’re good strong runners. But you still know what they can do on a race course. I have huge respect for both of them them, they are both fast, I mean Lionel has been second in Kona.

“But still, Kristian and Gustav, it’s just a question mark. Are they going to do sub-2:30 on the marathon, are they going to blow up the field on the run, on the bike – what is going to happen?

“That’s why I think they will be the big question mark throughout the whole race. You might start the run with a 10-minute lead over them and they are still going to catch you. You just don’t know because they haven’t done any races.”


Nilsson in peak shape

Patrik is in a very positive frame of mind heading into the biggest race of the year so far, feeling fitter than he did at any time in 2021 – even for that impressive IRONMAN Frankfurt victory in August. He admits the last couple of years have been tough due to COVID, lockdowns and the impact on the triathlon calendar.

“It’s not always easy to stay healthy and stay focused and stay illness-free. Over the last two or three years there’s been a lot of illness, especially during and after COVID and during the lockdowns – it’s been maybe not hard to find a focus, but tougher to find this killer mentality that I especially need during a race, where you want to perform at 110 percent.

Patrik Nilsson
Patrik Nilsson wins IRONMAN Frankfurt in 2021.

“So this build-up is probably the first year in a long time where I feel really prepared, I feel super-fit, I feel strong. I’ve been doing the sessions I want.

“I spoke to the mental coach a few times and I said I don’t have anything to complain about, everything’s been going so good.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
Discover more
Kate Auld riding on an indoor trainer
Rouvy vs Zwift: our indoor cyclists put them to the test
Triathlete riding a time trial bike wearing a Ryzon tri suit
Tri suit buying guide: how to find your perfect tri suit
Cameron Brown signs off with seventh in his 25th and final appearance at IRONMAN New Zealand photo credit Graeme Murray
What is an average & good time for a triathlon?
Professional triathletes on the bike course at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam
Fastest triathlon courses: Best IRONMAN, long course and middle distance races for a sure-fire personal best
PTO European Open 2023 Ibiza - Ashleigh Gentle
Ashleigh Gentle on T100 racing: ‘The best battles are yet to come’
latest News
Sam Long Sam Laidlow Collins Cup press conference photo credit Darren Wheeler and PTO
The Best of Frenemies? Laidlow picks Long as one to watch in Miami
Pieter Heemeryck IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship Tallinn 2023.
PTO star looking to keep the ball rolling after career best season in 2023
Magnus Ditlev en route to another famous win at Challenge Roth 2023
Magnus Ditlev talks triathlon legends, T100 Tour calendar and who he can’t wait to race in 2024
Ben Kanute Escape from Alcatraz 2021
Latest T100 Triathlon World Tour stop announced after PTO unveil iconic location for California race
Mike Phillips IRONMAN New Zealand champion 2023 photo credit Graeme Murray
International stars announced for 40th anniversary of IRONMAN New Zealand
Story to tell?
Share interesting & inspirational stories with our news team
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

Share to...