Australia’s Max Neumann won the first-ever PTO European Open in Ibiza, holding off current Olympic Champion and PTO World #1 Kristian Blummenfelt’s late charge and keeping former Olympic gold medallists Jan Frodeno (4th) and Alistair Brownlee (6th) at bay.
After claiming the biggest win of his career, the PTO World #7 was quick to acknowledge the roles of the Olympic Champions in building the sport, but also full of praise for his small team and their focus on the basics: “I just think you don’t get many chances to race these guys. You know, they made Triathlon and it’s just a privilege to go up against Jan, Ali and Kristian. They literally made the sport for us guys. So, it’s quite emotional. But I love racing. To race like that with Kristian breathing down your neck is just literally what you live for. So I couldn’t have asked for more really.
“Yeah, we are literally like, just me, my brother, my girlfriend. It’s literally a family project almost. My masseuse Wayno. Shout out to Wayno. And that’s literally it. No psuedo science. Just a power meter and bloody hard work – and being smart. This [win] is for just going back to the basics. None of the crap. Just the basics.”
“I never expected ever to be winning. You always want to win but you never say you’re going to win. You’d just be an idiot if you did that. There was a couple of moments in the bike there where I saw Kristian and Jan were struggling a bit and, yeah, Kyle [Smith] and Ali [Brownlee] really pushed the pace on the bike. I just raced my race and paced it well on the run and finished it off at the end.”
For PTO World #1 Blummenfelt, this was another second place in a PTO Open following his runner up finish at the PTO Canadian Open last year.
“It’s a season opener; it’s something to build on,” said Blummenfelt. “It’s nice to be on the podium, but I think I feel a little bit like in Edmonton. I think in the PTO Canadian Open last year you do want to touch that tape. You don’t want to see that guy 20 seconds ahead coming into the finish shoot just in front of you. But yeah, it was a great race from Max in front.”
On his return from a long lay-off, Frodeno said: “It’s good to be back…it really is. That was a hard day in the office!”
With calm waters lapping the sand of Figeurtas Beach in sunny Ibiza, it was Aaron Royle (PTO World #11) who took the honours in the water leading onto dry land in 22:38 with 2008 Olympic Champion and 5-time world champ Jan Frodeno, double-Olympic Gold medallist Alistair Brownlee (PTO World #39) and PTO World #7 Max Neumann all within 20 seconds.
Onto the 80km bike course and it wasn’t long before Brownlee took the lead of a group with Neumann and Kyle Smith (PTO World #34). Meanwhile behind, Magnus Ditlev (PTO World #3) was tearing through the field hitting speeds of 75kmph with Kristian Blummenfelt on his wheel. While the Dane continued to push up to the front group, Blummenfelt and Frodeno were losing time to the leaders.
Race Ranger was in use in Ibiza to ensure fair racing with all athletes able to judge their 20m drafting zone thanks to the system’s innovative distance-detection technology.
Brownlee and Smith were first off the bike, the Brit taking the lead and soon well ahead and looking imperious with Ditlev back in third. As the kilometres clicked by Brownlee began to slow and Neumann strode ahead to take pole by half way through the run. Blummenfelt was charging hard from behind and soon only Neumann stood between the Norwegian and glory. Digging deep and visibly suffering Neumann pressed his advantage to stave of the Olympic Champion’s attack and crossed the line first in 3:13:46. The Austalian was crowned the first-ever PTO European Open Champion, taking a cool $100,000 for his efforts.
As in last year’s PTO Canadian Open, Blummentfelt was second, to claim $50,000 while Ditlev rounded out the podium to take $35,000. On his first race finish in 616 days, Jan Frodeno came fourth to score $15,000 while a fleet-footed Jason West (PTO World #18) moved up 13 places to take fifth and $10,000.
Winning this season’s first Platinum Tier race is sure to help boost Neumann’s current #7 PTO World Ranking when the new rankings are released on Tuesday while he’ll be the one to watch at future PTO Tour races.
2023 PTO Tour events are being broadcast live in a record 195 territories, reaching 425 million Households and being translated into 22 languages, thanks to deals with a range of international, regional and local broadcast deals, including DAZN, beIN Sports and SPOTV. It is also available on PTO+.
The next PTO Tour event will be the PTO US Open in Milwaukee on 4-5 August followed by the first PTO Asian Open in Singapore on 19-20 August.