Tri Race Results: A Big Blummenfelt Double, Brits Take Paris, and More

Travis Mundell recaps a wild weekend of racing that includes the Paris Test Event, PTO Asian Open, XTERRA Germany, and the final qualifying races for the 2023 women's Ironman World Championship.

Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization

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Which is better: earning a spot on the start line of your second Olympic Games, or collecting a $100,000 prize for winning the PTO Asian Open? If you’re Kristian Blummenfelt, you don’t have to choose. It was all in a weekend’s work as the Norwegian racked up the miles both on and off the race course with an impressive doubleheader en route to this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship. But Big Blu wasn’t the only one pulling off impressive feats of triathlon this weekend. From a British invasion of Paris to the last-chance efforts for qualifying for the women’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, plus off-road action in Germany, there was no shortage of triathlon news to follow this weekend. There’s a lot to unpack (and we’re not just talking about Blu’s bike box here). Let’s get into it.

Potter takes Paris Test Event

Beth Potter Paris Test Event
(Photo: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon)

The Paris Test Event, where countries sent their best short-course athletes to preview the 2024 Olympics course and vie for a spot at the Games, kicked off on Thursday with the women’s race.  One notable name missing: Flora Duffy, the defending champion Olympic champion, withdrew from the event at the last minute, saying she was “not quite ready.” Tokyo silver medalist Georgia Taylor Brown missed out due to injury as well, leaving 65 other women lucky enough to make the start list to battle it out in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Bianca Seregni of Italy led out of the swim in the Seine, with France’s Cassandre Beaugrand right on her heels with a nice advantage over the other strong competitors including American Taylor Knibb and Brits Beth Potter and Sophie Coldwell. But that lead was brief, as Knibb pushed to the the front on the bike, clearly eyeing a breakaway. But that wasn’t to be – the American instead pulled a train into the T2 station that included Potter and Beaugrand, the two most outstanding runners in the field.

In a thrilling showdown, the two ran neck and neck until Potter made her move in the final turn of the race, showing off her track and field background with a mind-blowing kick to leave a cramping Beaugrand behind and take the win.

Germany’s Laura Lindemann took third, also punching her ticket to Paris 2024 with a fantastic finish ahead of another young Frenchwoman, Emma Lombardi. Behind them was Knibb with a brilliant fifth place to become the first triathlete to earn a spot on Team USA for next year’s Games.

Yee burns up Paris Test Event course

Alex Yee Paris Test Event
(Photo: Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon)

Any time there’s a showdown between New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde and Great Britian’s Alex Yee, it delievers on all the hype. But the Paris chapter of this rivalry got a new twist, with Wilde sustaining a hip injury from what he called a “stupid pre-race slow bike crash riding into the venue.” Still, he wasn’t going to miss a crack at the Paris course and his longtime frenemy.

France’s Vincent Luis was first out of the swim, with some significant separation to Wilde, Yee, and fellow podium contenders Vasco Vilaca and Kristian Blummenfelt. On the bike, the two chase groups soon became one as Blummenfelt (as he often does) pulled his group to the front. One large pack of athletes jostled for positions, rumbled on the cobbles, and attempted breakaways for the remainder of the laps. No one was able to have an advantage starting the run – not what most of the men, especially the French, would be wanting with Yee and Wilde in the field.

The drama immediately began on the run as Wilde tumbled off to the side, only slowly continuing on with a hobbling jog before eventually being lapped out. With Wilde out, this left the other fastest runner to put on a show we are all too familiar with. Yee ended up finishing the 10K run in an astonishing 29 minutes flat, showing again why many are calling him the favorite for the gold medal next year and drawing many comparisons between him and the great Alistair Brownlee. Yee now heads to the top of the World Triathlon standings with that result, and will look to become world champion at the Grand Final in Pontevedra in September.

Behind Yee was a sprint finish, with Vilaca just edging out an impressive Dorian Conninx (FRA) for second. American Morgan Pearson, a last-minute add to the start list, finished a remarkable sixth place and will join Knibb on Team USA.

Blummenfelt, who is hoping to defend his Olympic gold medal next year, finished ninth, then hopped a 14-hour flight to race the PTO Asian Open in Singapore on Sunday – more on that in a second.

A paratriathlon preview for Paris Games

Chris Hammer Paris Test Event 2023
(Photo: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon)

Though water testing results were acceptable for the triathlon swim on the first two days of the Paris Test Event, they didn’t pass muster for day three, which featured the paratriathlon competitions. (Clearly, the city’s 1.5 billion-dollar project to clean up the Seine before the Games is still in progress.) Instead, athletes raced a duathlon format, coming off of the back of the WTPS race in Swansea that was changed to an Aquathlon format just last month.

Still, as always when a format is changed, it allows for some interesting racing dynamics and new talent to rise to the top. Anja Renner (GER) was one of those names that stood out. Despite being new to the sport, she showed all of her potential with a fantastic win in the PTVI category. Similarly, in the women’s PTS2 category, Anu Francis of Australia – who recently switched to triathlon from rowing – showed her potential after a fantastic 5K in 23:28 to take gold.

There were also mishaps and missteps with the confusion of the duathlon format. Germany’s Martin Schulz, the reigning Olympic Gold medalist in the PTS5 category, miscounted the laps in his race and continued to ride his bike, while the likes of American Chris Hammer racked his back and took off on the run – which eventually resulted in a Hammer victory. Kyle Coon (USA) and his guide also miscounted the laps and hit the blue carpet early, eventually realizing they had one more to go – which meant that Britain’s Dave Ellis took the lead and the win.

RELATED: What is Paratriathlon? Understanding Triathlon in the Paralympics

A duathlon mixed relay (?) and sprint finish in Paris

Paris Test Event Mixed Relay
(Photo: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon)

On day four of the Paris Test Event, we once again saw the swim canceled, turning the mixed relay event into a duathlon. With four legs alternating between the men and women, it was a very intriguing sight to see.

Though France has been dominating the mixed-relay scene as of late, the new format meant everything was up for grabs. In the end, it came down to Germany versus Britian – specifically, Lindemann against Potter, who placed third and first, respectively, in the women’s race days prior and ran as anchors for their teams. In a sprint finish, Lindemann ended up narrowly beating Potter to the line. A sprint finish for third place made things even more exciting, as France agonizingly fell just short of third when a delighted Belgium snuck ahead to take the last step on the podium. Team USA, who placed second at the Olympic games in Tokyo, had a disappointing race, finishing in ninth place 47 seconds back.

Ashleigh Gentle number one at PTO Asian Open

Gentle PTO Asian Open -05269
(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

In the final race of the 2023 PTO tour, athletes athletes traveled to Singapore for their shot at the podium (and a hefty payday). A full weekend of drama and intrigue kicked off with the swim leg of women’s race, where Sara Perez Sala raised eyebrows when she beat Lucy Charles-Barclay into T1  – the first time this has ever happened to Lucy in a long-distance race. It didn’t take long for Lucy to assume the front spot on the bike, but behind her, all the big hitters were moving faster, including the other ladies who stood above her on the podium when she last raced at the PTO European Open: Anne Haug and Ashleigh Gentle.

Both of those women would rapidly gain time to the front and eventually, and by the final lap of the bike, would take over. The heat, humidity, and hills dominated the talk of the commentary, seemingly favoring these two tough athletes. Gentle moved to the front, and Haug was on her way there before the biggest moment of the race occurred. Haug’s spare tube unraveled from beneath her seat and got caught in her rear wheel. This forced her to stop at a crucial point in the race and lose precious minutes to the front. Eventually, she was back on the (now-working) bike and managed to come into T2 with a three-minute deficit, but that proved just too large of a gap to bridge.

Ashleigh “Savage by Nature” Gentle ran home to take the victory, earning her another $100,000 and further cementing her number-one PTO ranking. Haug impressively clawed her way back to second place, and after the race spoke incredibly highly of Gentle’s performance with a positive viewpoint on the incident that potentially cost her her race. Chelsea Sodaro seemed to right her topsy-turvy season so far by securing a brilliant third place that will springboard her towards defending her Kona title in just under two months.

Mechanicals, meltdowns, and a Blummenfelt win at PTO Asian Open

Blummenfelt PTO Asian Open
(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

The men’s race at the PTO Asian Open was somehow even hotter and more humid than the women’s event the day prior, and with it came even more unpredictability. Mechanicals, meltdowns, and crashes were the name of the game, as the swim yielded a larger-than-normal front pack that included almost of the big names. Dark horse Pieter Heemeryck of Germany quickly moved to the front of the race on the bike, and not only dominated the bike but all the discussion about the race, as he was moving significantly faster than even the likes of Kristian Blummenfelt. Heemeryck’s bold move resulted in a lead of two minutes into T2, leaving us all wondering if a spectacular blow-up (and shake-up) was ahead.

The answer: yes, but not in the way we expected. The shake-up happened behind Heemeryck, when mechanicals ended the day for Mike Phillips and Top Bishop; Sam Laidlow dropped out due to illness; and one athlete after another crashed. Aaron Royle, Jason West, and reigning Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden each took a spill on the bike leg. Royle and West were able to continue while Iden decided to pull the plug on what was clearly already a tough day.

With Heemeryck onto his favorite leg, Blummenfelt within touching distance, and West still within a shout (and a shout is all he needs on the run) the run was full of nail-biting, popcorn-munching material. Blummenfelt was clearly having a day to remember, despite the travel, as he pulled off his first PTO win with the fastest run of the day. Heemeryck made sure he will never fly under the radar again with his second place, and West ran down his opponents (as usual) to finish third and cement himself as one of the favorites at the 100K distance.

If you think Blummenfelt is taking a post-race nap, think again – his mad schedule continued the next day when he left for Finland, where he will try to defend his 70.3 World Championship title next weekend. Sounds crazy and impossible – but then again, so was racing two big events in the same weekend.

Women’s Kona qualifying window closes at Ironmans Kalmar and Mont-Tremblant

Ironman had a host of races on offer for the professionals this weekend, although one of them, the famous Ironman Canada in Penticton, ended up being canceled due to the tragic wildfires sweeping through British Columbia. The other Canadian race, Ironman Mont-Tremblant, thankfully went ahead. This was one of two full-distance, women’s-only pro races on the weekend that were the last opportunity for the women to grab Kona qualifications. It was also the last chance to race the event with the full distance in Mont-Tremblant being canceled moving forward (the venue will only host a 70.3 next year). The race was one to remember, with many lead changes throughout the bike and run and a win from American Rachel Zilinskas who surprised many by taking down the likes of Sarah Crowley and Meredith Kessler in the process.

Across the pond at Ironman Kalmar, home favorite Lisa Norden took a delightful victory. And with that, the women’s qualifying window for this year’s Ironman World Championship in Kona has closed. To see if your favorite pros made it, check out the 2023 Kona Ironman World Championship women’s pro start list and analysis.

Serrieres, Paties, take Ws at XTERRA World Cup Germany

Arthur Serrières XTERRA Germany
(Photo: XTERRA)

The fifth stop on the XTERRA World Cup saw the best off-road triathletes storm the demanding short-track and full-distance courses at Olbersdorfer Lake in Germany. Eric Lagerstrom was one of those athletes, looking to test himself again at XTERRA racing after placing second at XTERRA Oak Mountain earlier this year. However, the pace of the races set by current world champion Arthur Serrieres was on another level, winning the men’s short-track and full-distance races. Lagerstrom seemed pleased with his fifth place in the full distance, although he said he’d hoped his swim lead “would last a little bit longer.”

After receiving no points in the short track and breaking her handlebars in the process at the race in the Czech Republic last week, Alizee Paties wrote a redemption story for the ages, pulling off a double victory in the women’s short-track and full races.

On deck

If last weekend didn’t have enough heart-pumping action for you, don’t worry. Next up is none other than the 70.3 World Championship in Lahti, Finland. Take a deep breath before you read the start lists for the men’s and women’s races, because most of the big names are there. All eyes will be on Blummenfelt, as mentioned earlier – can he pull off one of the craziest feats in triathlon history by winning Worlds? Taylor Knibb, fresh off Paris, will also be there, defending her title against none other than Daniela Ryf, who is having a record-breaking kind of season. Super League’s Championship Series also kicks off next weekend, delivering fast-paced, explosive action on Sunday, and XTERRA Beaver Creek and Challenge Davos round off another stack weekend of racing.

RELATED: The 2023 Must-Watch Pro Triathlon Calendar

Travis Mundell is the founder of YouTube channel TheDailyTri and a self-proclaimed triathlon superfan. He is obsessed with covering professional triathlon in a comprehensive and engaging way.

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