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With the 70.3 World Championships this Saturday, the pro field is getting ready for an intense sprint-to-the-finish battle on what is almost sure to be one of the most brutal run courses out there—but the Norwegian duo of Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt and defending 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden are certain the battle will really be between the two of them.
“I think it’s going to be a battle for me and him for the win,” said Iden.
The new, slightly modified course in St. George, Utah features a two-loop run that most of the pros agreed will be exceptionally hard because of the steep downhill at the end of each lap. “The bike was easier than I expected,” said Iden. “The run was way, way worse.”
The question for all of them is do you want to be neck and neck with someone as you hit that downhill or do you want to make your break earlier?
British star Lucy Charles-Barclay said she doesn’t want it to come down to the steep drop at the end; she’ll try to make a break earlier. Up and coming American Sam Long thinks the run course is actually faster than the old way—and he plans to bomb all the way to the finish. (He also noted he was 26 minutes behind Iden at the 2019 70.3 Worlds in Nice, France and has certainly come a long way since.) And the 23-year-old Taylor Knibb only got into Utah last night after a long drive from Boulder and has never seen the course before—in fact, this will only be her second 70.3 ever, after taking second at Boulder 70.3 on her road bike before an impressive rest of the summer. But that’s OK, she said, she watched the 70.3 race here back in May on Facebook, so she has the general idea.
“I’m not really entirely sure of the course yet, so I need to kind of figure that out,” she said. “So I’m not sure. I’m excited to race, and we’ll see.”
With a deep women’s field, it’s expected to be a competitive race all the way to the finish. Defending champ and many time world champ Daniela Ryf, who won the 70.3 here in May, said to win on Saturday “it will need to be faster than that for sure.”
And the Norwegian duo? They expect it to come down to a sprint between the two of them.
“I think it’s going to be a tight battle between us and I think I will be the stronger one on Saturday,” said Blummenfelt, who took 4th in 2019, but has been dominant this year with an Olympic win and a World Triathlon world title.
“I also think Kristan thinks he will be the stronger one,” joked Iden. “But I am the reigning champ and I want to stay the reigning champ.”
While they disagreed on who will come out on top, one thing was certain: “There’s going to be a Norwegian title afterwards,” said Blummenfelt.
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