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Laidlow looking to validate training numbers – and Kona slot – at IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz

Reigning men's IRONMAN World Champion Sam Laidlow and Kat Matthews are the headline names in the latest IRONMAN Pro Series race.

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Sam Laidlow, the reigning men’s IRONMAN World Champion, will bid to validate his slot for this year’s race in Kona at IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz in northern Spain’s Basque Country on Sunday 14 July.

It’s the 11th and latest race in the IRONMAN Pro Series, with 5,000 points up for grabs for the winner as well as three places per gender for the IMWC in Nice (women) and Kona (men).

As a champion with a five-year exemption, Laidlow just has to finish the race to book his Kona ticket.

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Heading in the right direction

But speaking on his Instagram channel, he said: “I’m very excited to start my IRONMAN season at Vitoria-Gasteiz.

“I’m looking forward to discover what I think is a rolling bike course and I think the run course will be particularly special with it being in the centre of town.

“I’m expecting to kind of just confirm my numbers from training, I believe everything is going in the right direction.

“Of course I want to come away with a win but Kona is still quite a long way away.

“So [it’s about] making sure I’m going in the right direction and just have a solid race. So to be able to validate that is what I’m there for – and of course to validate my slot for Kona.”

Sam Laidlow IRONMAN World Championship 2023 Nice finish line celebration
Sam Laidlow winning at Nice last year [Photo Credit: Donald Miralle for IRONMAN]

It’s been a mixed first half of the year for Laidlow, with ninth place at T100 in Miami in March before he exited T100 Singapore on the bike leg and he hasn’t raced since that April event.

This will be his first full-distance race of 2024 and he’s by far the highest ranked athlete on the current start list, with Brit David McNamee the only other inside the top 20.

One interesting rival for Laidlow will be his training partner and fellow Frenchman Arthur Horseau who progressed rapidly last year to finish sixth behind him at the IMWC in Nice and was runner-up at IRONMAN Austria last time out.

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Matthews looking for maximum points haul

The headline name on the women’s start list is world #4 Kat Matthews.

The Brit has already won IRONMAN Texas this season and was a superb second to Taylor Knibb at the T100 San Francisco last month.

That Texas win gave her the maximum 5,000 Pro Series points and she said on her Instagram page: “I’m aiming to win IM Vitoria-Gasteiz (for +5000 points), head home and prepare the body for T100 London!”

Kat Matthews successfully defend her title at IRONMAN Texas.
Kat Matthews defended her IRONMAN Texas title [Photo Credit: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images for IRONMAN]

But wearing the #1 bib will be reigning Vitoria-Gasteiz champion, Gurutze Frades Larralde (ESP).

Ruth Astle (GBR), who has been battling injury since the start of the year will also take to the start in her IRONMAN Pro Series debut.

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.  
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