Jan Frodeno again staked his claim to the title of greatest triathlete ever with a quite sensational performance to win the 2023 PTO Tour US Open in Milwaukee on Friday.
In second and third behind Frodeno, American Jason West broke Kristian Blummenfelt in the dying stages to take the runner-up spot. West ran through the field, in the process taking down a number of the early leaders – including Dane Magnus Ditlev and Frenchman Mathis Margirier.
Swim – Blummenfelt makes the cut
Leading the first lap of the swim, Australian Aaron Royle set the early tempo as a front group of eight including pre-race favourite Blummenfelt opened up a gap on the likes of uber cyclist Ditlev, who was +0:47 adrift at the start of the second leg.
Over the course of the second lap, the front group consolidated their lead, with Frodeno, Blummenfelt and Royle joined by Americans Marc Dubrick and Ben Kanute, Dane Daniel Baekkegard, Canadian Matt Sharpe and Aussie Josh Amberger.
Entering transition, a surge by Royle left Frodeno floundering, with the German, rushing out on to the bike to make up the small gap that had opened up, almost jumping onto two wheels with his swim skin still on! Kanute was first out of T1, closely followed by Blummenfelt and the rest of the pack.
Further back, Ditlev was +1:31 down, with home favourite Sam Long +2:45 back and Canadian Lionel Sanders way down with a deficit of +4:06 to the front of the race. Britain’s Tom Bishop was less than a minute down and in good company with German Frederic Funk and Frenchman Margirier.
Bike – Ditlev closes the gap
Taking the whole field by surprise, Blummenfelt took the race by the scruff of the neck and waited for no man as he put his foot down out of transition and opened up a lead of close to +0:30 over the rest of the front pack after two laps. As the gaps to his previous companions grew, others began to make their way through the field.
By the 21.3km mark, Margirier and Frodeno were the only athletes within half a minute of Blummenfelt, as Baekkegard, Royle, Kanute and Amberger were the only other athletes within a minute of the front. Closing fast, Ditlev and Funk were gaining on the quartet.
With Margirier leaving Frodeno behind to bridge up to Blummenfelt, the German was left in no man’s land and was eventually caught by Ditlev around the halfway mark, with the PTO Tour European Open third place finisher looking as smooth as ever on the bike.
By 50km, Margirier was joined up front by Blummenfelt, Frodeno and Ditlev, with Funk the only athlete within one minute of the quartet and everyone outside of the Top 10 over +2:30 from the front, including Long and Sanders. Bishop, who was looking so good early on, was forced to withdraw with a mechanical.
With 20km to go on the bike, Ditlev surged ahead of Margirier and managed temporarily to shake Frodeno and put the hurt on Margirier and Blummenfelt. Into transition, Ditlev was first in, with Blummenfelt, Margirier and Frodeno all within a handful of seconds, as Blu cramped coming into T2.
Behind the lead group, Funk was +1:24 down, with a huge group of 18 athletes between 3-5 minutes down and fighting for the minor places, including home favourites West, Kanute and Long, with the Top 10 all to play for on the run.
Run – Frodeno takes the crown
After cramping in transition, Blummenfelt lost Margirier, Frodeno and Ditlev out of the gates, as the trio tried to take their chance to shake the Olympic champion. Frodeno, realising Blummenfelt was vulnerable, pushed onwards and opened up a +0:16 gap on Margirier and Ditlev, with Blummenfelt +0:25 down at the 4km mark.
Just as Blummenfelt made it back up to the shoulder of Ditlev in third place, disaster struck again, as the cramp that derailed his PTO Tour Canadian Open campaign last year returned with a vengeance, as the Norwegian star lost over a minute trying to stretch out the pain before bravely carrying on.
Up front, Frodeno was looking like he’d never left, as he kept on gapping Margirer, who was in turn putting the pressure on Ditlev. With 10km to go, Frodeno had over a minute to next best Margirier, as Ditlev and Blummenfelt held their positions and West and Baekkegard began to close on Long in fifth.
With a +1:15 gap over Margirier at the 12km mark, Frodeno looked safe at the front, with West closing down on the podium with every step, as the battle for second and third intensified over the final laps of the run course. Ditlev, stepping to the side of the race, seemed to succumb to the heat, as West moved past Blummenfelt into third.
On to the last lap, Blummenfelt and West came flying past Margirier to set up an enthralling battle for second place, as Frodeno held them off over the final few kilometres to take the tape after one of the most incredible performances of his career to beat a world-class field. Behind, West broke Blummenfelt in the dying stages for second.
PTO Tour US Open Men’s Results 2023
Friday August 4, 2023, Milwaukee (USA):
- 1. Jan Frodeno (GER) – 3:14:12
- 2. Jason West (USA) – 3:14:40
- 3. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) – 3:14:50
- 4. Mathis Margirier (FRA) – 3:15:45
- 5. Sam Long (USA) – 3:17:27