By Roger Childs
You would think after swimming 1500 metres, biking 40 km and running 10 km there would be clear winner. It happened in the elite women’s event in Edmonton last weekend – See —-. But the men’s race proved much more competitive and came down to a mad dash on the blue carpet at the finish.
Three swimmers were well ahead coming out of the water — Frenchman Vincent Luis, Hungarian Mark Devey and Martin Van Riel from Belgium. They quickly formed a lead group on the bike and steadily built a lead of 30 seconds. But unlike Taylor Knibb in the women’s event, they couldn’t push it out further. In fact in the last two laps the chase pack led by Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt closed to within 10 seconds by the bike-run transition.
On the run
The fast runners in the chase pack soon joined the front three up the hill, and led by Swiss Adrian Briffod they stayed together until the final lap of four. The leading group was down to seven by this stage and included Kiwi Taylor Reid. Blummenfeldt was in the middle and probably confident that he could outsprint the others. He came to the front with about 2k to go and three of the front group dropped off the back. However, Léo Bergere and Van Riel stayed with him. As they came on to the blue finish carpet at the bottom of the downhill there was an almighty sprint and the Norwegian just hung on to take first place. A blanket could have covered the three and Van Riele was given the same time as the winner with Bergere one second back. Taylor Reid was seventh and the second New Zealander Hayden Wilde finished 14th.
This was the final elite triathlon event of the year and Kristian Blummenfelt took the series title with Van Riel second and Olympic silver medallist Briton Alex Yee third.
The Edmonton race was a fitting climax to the season with one of the closest finishes in triathlon history at this level.