“I’m so happy that the PTO managed to gather all the high-profile pro athletes at one race,” Iden said after the win. “I’m really driven to be racing the best.”
With a total prize purse of $1 million, the inaugural PTO Canadian Open featured a stacked men’s field including seven of the top-10 finishers from the recent Ironman World Championships in St. George, Utah—an event that Blummenfelt won in May.
Iden and Blummenfelt came out of the 2km swim in Hawrelak Park in a chase group that trailed leader Henri Schoeman of South Africa by 1:16 through the first transition. From there, Iden hopped on his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro bike to tackle the 80km bike leg. Riding with a CADEX WheelSystem, the two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion put in a strong ride, passing several other chasers in pursuit of leaders Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain and Sam Laidlow of France.
By the time they hit the run, Iden and Blummenfelt were together in a seven-man group that was 1:07 behind the lead duo. From there, the Norwegian duo immediately began closing in on the leaders. Running side-by-side, they passed Brownlee and closed to within 16 seconds of Laidlow before Blummenfelt suddenly pulled up with an apparent leg injury or cramp.
“I started to kind of get a bit uncomfortable behind [Blummenfelt] and then he suddenly pulled out with a cramp and I was thinking, damn, now I have this, no problem," Iden explained to tri247.com.
Iden surged ahead, and by the midway point of the 18km run he had a lead of 1:30 over Blummenfelt. But Blummenfelt was able to recover and he soon began a dramatic pursuit of the leader. “Then I see [Blummenfelt] at the turnaround and it’s actually not that far behind and he’s gaining on me,” Iden said. “And I’m a bit low on energy. The last lap was a full-on struggle.”
Blummenfelt was flying over the final kilometers, closing in on his training partner, coming within 30 seconds of the lead. “I was thinking, that’s 15 seconds per kilometer,” Iden said. “I mean, Kristian has done it before so he can do it again.”
Digging deep, Iden was ultimately able to hold off Blummenfelt. He powered to the finish line with a winning margin of 27 seconds, reasserting his standing as perhaps the greatest middle distance triathlete in the world today.
Blummenfelt, who was riding the new CADEX Tri frameset with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem, finished second to Iden. Aaron Royle, who is sponsored by Giant Australia and also rides a Giant Trinity Advanced Pro, finished third to round out the podium.