In one of the strongest professional male long-course triathlon fields ever assembled it was a dark horse that crossed the line first.
The Professional Triathletes Organization gave American Collin Chartier a 0.06 percent chance of victory before the US Open in Irvine, Texas. But it was Chartier who broke the tape for first place in 3:17:17, followed by Dane Magnus Ditlev and American Sam Long.
Chartier had a consistent swim and bike leg in the brutal Texas heat, and came-from-behind on the run to win.
Chartier’s victory is all the more surprising because he and Lionel Sanders trained through the race to prepare for the upcoming Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Last weekend Chartier did a 7 hour race simulation that was nearly a complete Ironman. “If we could pull that off and recover we’d have a great day,” Chartier said.
The race started in the steamy Texas water. Australian Aaron Royle led the pack out of the 2 kilometer swim followed by Frenchman Sam Laidlow. In a sign of how conservative the field took the swim because of the 94 degree heat, the men came out of the water just 24 seconds ahead of the top professional woman from Saturday’s race, Lucy Charles-Barclay. Chartier exited the water 14 seconds behind and pre-race favorite Ditlev finished the swim 1:09 down. The Uber-biker pack that included Lionel Sanders and Sam Long came out of the water around 2:37 down.
German Florian Angert was 19 seconds down after the swim and quickly moved through the field to join Laidlow in the lead of the bike. Angert would eventually breakaway from Laidlow halfway through the 80k bike leg. Long, who exited the water last, motored through the bike field with the fastest split of the day. He finished the bike in a group with Laidlow, Ditlev and Chartier.
Angert started the run with a 41 second lead over Long thanks to a storming transition from the American, followed by Ditlev at 57 seconds back and Chartier with a 1:04 deficit.
With 15 kilometers remaining Long passed Angert for the lead. But Chartier picked off Ditlev and hunted down Long. The two Americans went side-by-side for a few seconds with 5 kilometers left before Chartier surged into the lead.
Chartier hung on to win, and Long was nipped with a few hundred meters to go by Ditlev. Both Long and Ditlev collapsed as soon as they crossed the finish line.
It was the biggest win of Chartier’s professional career, but the American said he had bigger goals ahead.
“Kona is coming up,” Chartier said. “That’s our single focus.”
1. Colin Chartier (USA) 3:17:17
2. Magnus Ditlev (DEN) 3:17:59
3. Sam Long (USA) 3:18:09
4. Sam Laidlow (FRA) 3:20:29
5. Florian Angert (GER) 3:21:14
6. Kristian Hogenhaug (DEN) 3:21:28
7. Aaron Royle (AUS) 3:21:33
8. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:22:27
9. Mika Noodt (GER) 3:22:36
10. Pablo Dapena Gonzalez 3:22:56
Photo Credit: PTO