After dominating a week ago in Yokohama, Japan, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt showed that he is the man in form, running to victory today at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon.
How it played out
‘Richard Varga leads out the swim’ has been one of the few constants in the ever-changing world of triathlon over the past decade, and the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon on Saturday wasn’t going to change that. Just for a change though, it was at the second attempt, as the wetsuit-legal beach start saw a rare false start from which the entire field was stopped, sent back to the beach and had to try again.
Germany’s breakaway king, Jonas Schomburg, was just three seconds back after the two lap swim, but with more than 30 athletes within 30 seconds at T1 – including last week’s Yokohama winner, Kristian Blummenfelt – a large front group on the bike, very soon, was a given.
Not all the favourites were in that group however, with Mario Mola, Gustav Iden and Casper Stornes all a full minute in arrears. Gordon Benson was safely in the front group, but Tom Bishop and Grant Sheldon would have to hope that chase group could work its way back to the front. With Gustav Iden present, that wasn’t unrealistic – and after three (of eight) bike laps that gap to the leading group of 32 was 37 seconds.
With 25 previous ITU World Cup winners in the race, and one of the last chances for Olympic qualifying points, the field was both strong and large. Marten Van Riel (BEL), Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN), Jonas Schomburg, Andrea Salvisberg (SUI), Crisanto Grajeles (MEX) plus Blummenfelt were among the class names in the leading pack, but by the mid-point of the bike, the chasing group (including Iden, Mola, Bishop, Sheldon), were only 24 seconds down, suggesting it was all going to come back to one huge leading pack. That it did – and the final couple of laps provided a perfect opportunity to go and make a cup of tea… and look forward to T2. 50+ athletes looking to dismount together.
Jonas Schomburg was first in, first out of transition and kept to script, by attacking the run hard from the start, while behind, the chasing group formed around Blummenfelt, Max Studer (SUI), Tom Richard (FRA), Genis Grau (ESP) and Van Riel (BEL), Surprisingly perhaps, Van Riel was the first to fade, while the remainder of the group closed the gap to Schomburg, leaving a leading five.
Tom Richard (third last week in Caorle, Italy) was the next to to drop, as Kristian put in a hard surge around the 5km mark. Grau, Schomburg, Studer and Big Blu were left to determine the winner on the flat, four-lap run course. Gordon Benson was making great progress, up to sixth with the final 3km approaching.
Blummenfelt was the hot favourite, but Max Studer took some serious shaking off, the Norwegian seeming to go into full sprint mode mid-race, to try and drop him. However, Kristian can combine peak form with his always aggressive race tactics and seemingly a desire to smash himself senseless. Another race, another win. Congrats to Studer on a brave second, with Grau getting the better of Schomburg for the bronze.
A strong performance from Gordon Benson, who held that sixth position to the finish, but with a DNF on the run from Tom Bishop, that will have knock-on effects on the chances of Great Britain’s men securing three slots for the individual race in Tokyo. With just three weekends of potential points scoring remaining, the selection committee could have some tough decisions to make over the coming weeks.
Next week it’s Arzachena, Italy, following by the AJ Bell World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds. Can Kristian win all four?
World Triathlon Cup Lisbon – Saturday 22nd May 2021
ELITE MEN – 1.5km / 40km / 10km
1st – Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) – 1:42:33
2nd – Max Studer (SUI) – 1:42:41
3rd – Genis Grau (ESP) – 1:42:55
4th – Jonas Schomburg (GER) – 1:42:56
5th – Tom Richard (FRA) – 1:43:13
6th – Gordon Benson (GBR) – 1:43:18
7th – Crisanto Grajales (MEX) – 1:43:20
8th – Gustav Iden (NOR) – 1:43:23
9th – Marten Van Riel (BEL) – 1:43:29
10th – Mario Mola (ESP) – 1:43:32
DNF – Tom Bishop (GBR)
DNF (TBC) – Grant Sheldon (GBR)