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The two newest players in the pro triathlon game put on marquee events in the U.S. over the weekend, with the debut of the PTO U.S. Open somewhere outside of Dallas and Super League returning to one of triathlon’s swankiest venues in Malibu. Over in Europe, a surprise DQ took away a win in Germany, and Ironman Italy Emilia-Romagna somehow took place after torrential storms devastated the region.
Chartier and Gentle Bag $100K in Dallas Heat
Collin Chartier is having himself a month. The 28-year-old American is currently ranked #28 in the PTO World Rankings, but that will soon change after taking the biggest win of his career. It comes just a few weeks after what was previously the biggest win of his career at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.
With the heat index soaring into triple digits on Sunday, Chartier reeled in fellow American Sam Long, who managed to be last out of the water and third off the bike. That’s ridiculously hard to do against a field that included nearly all of the top long-distance triathletes in the world except the Norwegians. (There were two Norwegians racing, just not those two Norwegians.)
Long took the lead early in the run and appeared to be on the way to the biggest payday of his career, but Chartier and Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev handled the heat just a bit better. Chartier finished 40 seconds clear of Ditlev for the win, with Long just 10 seconds behind the Dane to take a bittersweet third. Chartier now heads into his first race in Kona in terrific form—and clearly ready for the heat.
RELATED: Remember the Name: Collin Chartier
If I buried the lede, it’s only because this is a U.S.-based publication, and I could risk deportation to a better place if I didn’t start with the surprise American winner. The big story of the weekend is that Ashleigh Gentle straight up kicked the crap out of one of the best fields we’ve seen in a very long time. She ran six minutes faster than any other woman in the top 10 and eight minutes better than runner-up Taylor Knibb—who had the race won were it not for the best run performance we’ve seen all season.
Gentle’s 1:04:59 run split over 18K (11.2 miles) was four minutes faster than Lionel Sanders ran on the same course the following day. (Sanders finished 21st). She’s currently ranked number six in the world, and nobody knows quite how the algorithm works, but a performance like this should catapult her very near the top. She’s arguably had the best season of any woman in the world, with wins at Clash Miami, the PTO Canadian Open, and now the U.S. Open. Since moving on from draft-legal racing, she’s found her stride at this new, 100K distance, and it’s making her triathlon rich.
Knibb was the only woman able to swim with Lucy Charles-Barclay, and she then rode four minutes faster than the Brit (who had a slew of bike issues). Knibb ended the day just over a minute behind Gentle, which is a bit of a win for the young, American phenom that has had a less-than-phenomenal season due to injury. (She did win 70.3 Oceanside.) Charles-Barclay was another two minutes back, in third.
I only caught a bit of the live coverage for the women’s race, because the men’s race was up against NFL football on Sunday, which is a great way to ensure Americans don’t watch. The broadcast was fine, but nothing really improved from previous PTO productions. There weren’t many live metrics; we didn’t see a lot of athletes moving through the field; watching Gentle pick off each of the eight women she passed on the run would’ve been fun, especially if we could see their paces (or maybe heart rate!) live on screen.
But seriously, if the goal is to bring in new audiences to a live event or live broadcast, pitting it against football is a terrible idea. I don’t watch college football because I think watching amateur sports is absurd, but I realize a huge percentage of Americans do. And, like a normal American, I spent every second of my Sunday afternoons in the fall watching NFL football and would never consider doing anything else. If it’s a big ask for me to watch a triathlon, then you’re never going to bring in a fresh audience. Don’t try to compete with football: you’ll never win.
Video Highlights: PTO U.S. Open
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Spivey and Wilde Win Round Three of Super League in Malibu
The one place in America you can compete with football is Southern California, because out there people only care about the Lakers and themselves. The third stop of this year’s championship series partnered with the ever-popular Malibu Triathlon, and the beaches of Southern California are very much where Taylor Spivey feels at home.
After finishing second in London and third in Munich, Spivey got her first W of the season, winning with relative ease over the three-race “eliminator” format. Much of that ease was because series favorite Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain had a spill on the second bike leg, but she still managed to run her way up to third on the final run. Spivey now leads Taylor-Brown by just one point with races still to come in Toulouse, France, and Neom, Saudi Arabia. (Weird, I know.)
A crash was a big story of the day in the men’s race as well, with Aussie Matt Hauser wrecking on the first bike leg to spoil a potential showdown with co-favorite Hayden Wilde of New Zealand. The pair from Down Under have been smashing the series so far in 2022, but Hauser will now have some ground to make up in the standings after his wreck forced him out of the race on Saturday. Wilde took control of the race on the second of three miniature triathlons and now has a commanding nine-point lead in the series standings over Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca, who was the runner-up on the weekend. Hauser drops to third, three points behind Vilaca, who he should have a chance to catch with two races remaining.
Most importantly, my Sharks are now crushing the team standings. We’re 19 points ahead of the second-place Cheetahs, and I’m pretty sure that’s a lot. Plans are already underway for the championship parade, where we’ll be feeding cheetahs, rhinos, scorpions and eagles to a variety of sharks. Heads down. Fins up.
A DQ Shakes Up the Podium in at 70.3 Dresden
Estonia’s Kaidi Kivioja appeared to have won the first race of her career, but was subsequently disqualified for making an illegal pass on the bike. I know things used to be pretty strict in East Germany, but that seems like a bit much for a relatively benign infraction. It’s still unclear whether she was notified of the infraction on the bike and didn’t stop to serve a penalty, but the race was allowed to play out and she did break the tape.
It would’ve been a huge win for Kivioja, who competed in the last two Olympics and did finish top 10 in a WTS back in 2016. Instead the victory went to Germany’s Carolin Pohle, who was competing in just her second pro race. Britain’s Nikki Bartlett moved up to second with the DQ.
The men’s podium was swept by Germany—led by Franz Loeschke, who took his first win of the season and should now crack the top 50 of the world rankings for the first time. He finished third at Ironman Sweden last month with a very impressive 7:49 finish.
Ironman Emilia-Romagna Overcomes Conditions for Crowded Event
One of the most beautiful Ironman races in one of the world’s wealthiest regions was officially canceled on Friday, before it was officially uncancelled on Saturday and moved to Sunday. That meant racing both a full Ironman and a 70.3 simultaneously, making for drafting the likes of which we’ve never seen (even in Kona!).
— Maarten van Kooij (@maartenvkooij) September 18, 2022
Moving an Ironman from one day to the next is a monumental feat. Nearly every host community on earth wouldn’t do it, apart from like Ironman Estonia, which is the race that cannot be stopped. The seaside resort town of Cervia (go there if you’re in Northern Italy) made it happen, crowded roads be damned. A packed race is better than no race at all, no doubt, but it appears from some of the videos coming out of Italy that some safety concerns were overlooked. As pro Joe Skipper pointed out in the comments, one slip from one athlete could cause a lot of bodies to hit the pavement.
The only place there wasn’t much drafting was up front, where German Svenja Thoes continued her lowkey very good season, notching her third victory of 2022. She’s won Challenge Malta, Ironman France and now Ironman Italy. This woman knows how to race-cation. The only way a pro triathlete can afford to race in Malta, Nice, and Cervia is by winning them all. Thoes will now have a quick turnaround for her second race-cation on the Big Island, where she finished 20th the last time we had a race there in 2019.
Switzerland rounded out the podium in Italy, with Julie Derron and Joanna Ryter finishing second and third, respectively. There was no men’s pro race in Italy.