Gustav Iden tips Blummenfelt as favourite in St George

Gustav Iden tips fellow Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt as the favourite at the Ironman World Champs; Sam Long opens up on recent car crash

Gustav Iden finishing Ironman Florida

Norwegian triathlete Gustav Iden has named his favourite for this Saturday’s Ironman World Championship in St George, Utah.

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Responding to a question about who he thinks is the favourite at a press conference on Thursday 5 May, the reigning 70.3 world champion said: “I think there’s a favourite. To be honest I think it’s not me this time, it’s Kristian [Blummenfelt].

“In my mind I’m giving out percentages to everyone. I think I gave Kristian a 30% chance of winning. That’s my pick for the weekend. I won’t say anything more about the percentages, but yeah, Kristian got a 30%.”

That’s probably not a huge surprise, given Blummenfelt’s performances over the past 12 months. He won Olympic gold in Tokyo in July, claimed the World Triathlon title in August and then set a new record for the fastest-ever Ironman on his debut at the distance in Cozumel.

Both athletes share the same coach and often train together, which led to Blummenfelt being asked if the duo will be working together and sharing strategies in St George.

“We will see,” said Blummenfelt. “Hopefully I’ll have a little gap on Gustav after the swim, because I know he’s really riding well, especially on the second half of the bike course.

“I would like to be up front with a comfortable gap, so I can stay up front toward T2. Because if he’s having a gap like he had in the 70.3 coming into T2, he’ll be really difficult to catch. It’s not like I can give him a minute and 40 seconds, I’d like to be at least with him coming into T2.

“He’s one of the strongest guys in the field so I can’t just race the same tactics as him. I’ll try to use my strengths.”

Asked a similar question about tactics, Iden said: “I can’t say it out-loud here because he’ll listen, so my strategy is still undisclosed.

“I would tell my coach, but the problem is my coach is the same as Kristian’s and my brother is the coach of Lionel [Sanders], so I don’t really have anyone to talk to. That’s why I actually invited my mother to come over here. It’s the first time she will watch me race.”

Bad luck for Long

Sam Long competes during Ironman Louisville in 2018, where he’ll eventually finish second (Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The USA’s Sam Long, who’s had a promising start to the season following wins at Clash Miami and Challenge Puerto Varas, also provided a noteworthy moment when asked about some visible road rash.

“I want to clarify, I didn’t take a tumble. A car ran directly into me and pretty much tried to kill me. But thankfully, yeah, the big unit prevailed and the car is in the shop.

“I’m coming around, my hip’s coming around. I nearly didn’t come. I was actually going to leave Monday morning. But thankfully coming here, I think with all the energy from the fans and everyone, it’s making a miraculous recovery so I’m really looking forward to Saturday.

Writing about the incident on his Instagram three days ago, Long said: “It’s been a blur after getting pummelled by a car last week. After feeling and seeing peak fitness in my metrics—after months of work, cancelling Christmas and so much focus—I nearly lost it all.

“I’m en route to St George today to do what I can and keep taking care of my body. I hope to be at 100 percent by Saturday.”

Want more Ironman World Championship content? Check out our preview of the men’s race and find out who we think will win the women’s race.

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Top photo credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images for Ironman