For such a highly rated field competing for a rich prize purse, there was a great number of ups and downs that left many stars at the mercy of sudden dips and rises that seemed out of place on a flat as a pancake racing surface meant to handle 200-mph race cars.
Gustav Iden started his day with a 22nd best 23:43 swim split, followed by a 15th-best 1:41:02 bike split, then cleaned house with a second-best 58:16 split for the 11.2-mile run to finish in 3:05:06 with a 51 seconds margin over Matthew Hanson of the U.S. and 1:03 over 3rd place finisher George Goodwin of Great Britain.
“I raced smart once again," said Iden. "I felt like I had pretty good control during the run, but on the bike I was struggling till the very end.”
Speaking of the pressure wrought by very deep, high quality field, Iden laughed and said, “It shouldn’t be allowed. I was thinking this is torture.”
Torture it might have been, but at the end Iden added another shining mark on his resume to his 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Iden’s run was just enough to hold off Matthew Hanson’s race-best 57:22 18-kilometer run for the win, while George Goodwin of Great Britain made up for a 5th fastest 1:39:34 bike split with a 4th-best 59:29 run to take the final spot on the podium.
Lionel Sanders climbed out of a 42nd place hole via a 25:54 swim with a second-best 1:38:30 bike split that ascended him to 11th place. Sanders then climbed to 4th place overall with a 5th-fastest 59:47 run that was 1:10 out of Iden’s winning time.
“Every day is tough at this course, but this one was very, very tough," said Sanders. "Especially the competition and my swim like garbage. But it’s ok; I came here and wanted to know where I stand. Now I know where I stand.”
The high-powered favorites who had disappointing outings included two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee, who withdrew while near the lead of the run with a calf strain. “I was dying completely,” Brownlee said just some minutes before ending his race. Two-time ITU World Champion Vincent Luis and two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Brownlee both fell from early contention with 2-minute drafting penalties. Javier Gomez started well with a 3rd-fastest 22:30 swim split, fell out of contention with a 1:44:32 bike split, then rebounded with a 2nd best 58:49 run that brought him back to 10th place overall.
Perhaps the most enjoyable racing came with cut and thrust duels on the run in which contenders rapidly shuffled the deck. Rudy Von Berg started the run in the lead but fell to 5th place after a 9th-fastest 1:01:27 run. After an 8th-best swim and a 7th-best bike split, Iden got his motor going on the run and passed early leaders Thomas Davis and Sam Appleton on the second lap before running away to the title . Sam Long and Rudy Von Berg dueled mightily for 4th place before Von Berg fell to 5th and Long dropped to 9th at the end. Best of all was Matt Hanson’s attacking run from obscurity on the swim, 8th after the bike, then sliced through the field to second place overall with a sparkling race-best 57:22 run.
“The smile hasn’t left my face since crossing the finish line," Hanson said . "Wow. It was hurting during the run. I guess I came off the bike in 20th or so and it felt pretty good the first kilometers. I just went for it and picked a great day for a great day.”
George Goodwin closed to third place overall with a 3rd-best 59:29 run split that left him 12 seconds behind Hanson.
"A dream comes true," he told PTO media. "I was trying not to think like where I was, just keep focused and relax. I probably had like ten or twelve weeks of full training so I knew top ten was possible.”
PTO Championship – Challenge Daytona
Daytona Beach, Florida
December 6, 2020
S 2k-1.2 mi. / B 80k - 50 mi. / R 18k – 11.2 mi.
1. Gustav Iden NOR Leader 3:05:06 S 23:43 T1 1:16 B 1:41:02 T2 00:51 R 58:16
2. Matthew Hanson USA 3:05:57 +0:51s S 24:39 T1 1:30 B 1:41:45 T2 00:43 R 57:22
3. George Goodwin GBR 3:06:09 +1:03 S 24:47 T1 1:23 B 1:39:34 T2 00:57 R 59:29
4. Lionel Sanders CAN 3:06:16 +1:10 S 25:54 T1 1:16 B 1:38:30 T2 00:51 R 59:47
5. Rodolphe Von Berg USA 3:06:41 +1:35 S 23:40 T1 1:21 B 1:39:31 T2 00:43 R 1:01:27
6. Sam Appleton AUS 3:06:58 + 1:52 S 23:13 T1 1:25 B 1:39:58 T2 00:49 R 1:01:35
7. Henri Schoeman RSA 3:07:16 +2:10 S 22:24 T1 1:21 B 1:42:15 T2 00:48 R 1:00:30
8. Vincent Luis FRA 3:07:21 +2:15 S 22:28 T1 1:19 B 1:41:53 T2 00:38 R 1:01:05
9. Sam Long USA 3:07:28 +2:21 S 25:54 T1 1:18 B 1:38:24 T2 00:49 R 1:01:05
10. Andreas Dreitz GER 3:07:45 +2:39 S 24:41 T1 1:37 B 1:39:19 T2 1:37 R 1:01L23
11. Javier Gomez ESP 3:07:51 +2:45 S 22:30 T1 1:16 B 1:44:32 T2 00:46 R 58:49
16. Timothy O’Donnell USA 3:10:15 +5:09 S 23:16 T1 1:17 B 1:40:15 T2 00:41 R 1:04:48