Brownlee, Ditlev, Sanders and more set for PTO US Open

Chief Correspondent

Earlier this week the PTO revealed the female Pro names that have signed up to race in Dallas on September 17 for the debut edition of the PTO US Open.

The Men’s Pro race will be held a day later on Sunday 18 September, and includes another impressive line-up of athletes, a race which for many will be their final race before the IRONMAN World Championship in early October.

With $1million and a $100k top prize on offer, we would have expected nothing less.

Brownlee the man to beat?

The prospects for Alistair Brownlee look far different now than they did on 24 July. After leading off of the bike with Sam Laidlow at the Canadian Open in Edmonton, the double Olympic champion faded badly with stomach cramps to cross the line 24th.

Since then, a total domination of IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea followed by a hugely impressive performance at IRONMAN Kalmar have shown, not for the first time in his career, that while form is temporary, class is permanent.

Alistair Brownlee Kalmar 2022 win photo credit Getty Images for IRONMAN
[Photo credit: Getty Images for IRONMAN]

While he’s not the top ranked PTO athlete going into the race, with Magnus Ditlev (#3) and Lionel Sanders (#4) also on the start list, for many he will be the favourite.

As you would expect in Dallas, plenty of home talent signed up, including Sam Long, who will resume rivalries with ‘No Limits’:

“I enjoyed finally letting my racing do the talking at the Collins Cup with Lionel Sanders, but I’ll be looking to go one better on home soil at the PTO US Open later this month,” said the twenty-six-year-old from Boulder, Colorado. 

“I always enjoy racing in the US and have been fortunate enough to notch up a couple of wins at Chattanooga, so I’m hoping I can continue that trend in Dallas.”

Collins Cup 2022 Lionel Sanders Sam Long photo credit PTO
[Photo credit: PTO]

Scandinavian strength in Dallas (see below) will likely be Danish rather than Norwegian. Challenge Roth champion, Ditlev, will be joined by Daniel Bækkegård, Miki Taagholt and Kristian Hogenhaug.

While he may have been overlooked before Edmonton slightly, that’s unlikely to be the case in Dallas for Australian, Aaron Royle. That Canadian Open third placed secured him a Collins Cup start (where he also won his match), and so he is “riding the wave“, as he told us recently. He will be one of the athletes not thinking about Kona a few weeks later.

Gustav Iden Kristian Blummenfelt Aaron Royle photo credit PTO Canadian Open
Gustav Iden Kristian Blummenfelt Aaron Royle [Photo credit: PTO Canadian Open]

Add in the likes of Florian Angert, Frederic Funk and Sebastian Kienle from Germany, Sam Laidlow (FRA), Kyle Smith (NZL), Jackson Laundry (CAN) and home athletes Rudy Von Berg, Matt Hanson and Ben Kanute, and you have a very deep field – even if a couple of obvious names will not be there…

No Norway

The most notable absentees of course are the two top-ranked athletes in the world right now, Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden. They topped the podium at the PTO Canadian Open in July (over the same 2k / 80k / 18k distance), with Gustav taking the win by just 27 seconds over his friend and training partner.

With Gustav having also won the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona, and won his Collins Cup matches in 2021 and 2022 (both with maximum points), there will be a new men’s champion at a PTO event.

With both athletes having gone back to race at the Sprint distance – and what a race it was – in their home town of Bergen a week after the Collins Cup, it would appear that they have decided that the timing of this race doesn’t quite fit with their preparations for a debut on the Big Island.


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