He was the surprise winner of the 2019 Ironman World Championships in Nice, but now Norway’s Gustav Iden has truly established himself as a major force in triathlon with victory at the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona in Florida.
The Norwegian 24-year-old took control on the 20km run leg as more famous names suffered, including Alistair Brownlee who dropped out with a calf issue, and run to victory with over a minute gap to the chasing pack. In that pack group was George Goodwin, 24, from Rugby, the rising star of middle-distance racing in the UK after a victory over Tim Don at Outlaw X in September, who would finish third behind Matt Hanson.
The PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona easily saw the best men’s elite tri field of the year, admittedly in a massively disrupted season, but here were multiple ITU World Champions, an Ironman World champ, Olympic champions and medallists, and Commonwealth Games victors all lining up to compete for the $100,000 winner’s cheque.
And they're off! What are your predictions? #ChallengeDaytona
The wetsuit-legal swim saw South Africa’s reigning Commonwealth Games champ Henri Schoeman exit Lake Lloyd in first after 22:25mins, with a formidable foursome of Ali Brownlee, Vincent Luis, Jonny Brownlee and Javier Gomez in close pursuit.
Out of T1 flew Ali Brownlee aboard his new Scott Plasma and, with the German Floren Angert, would largely control the pace for the 4 x 20km laps. In contrast to the women’s race, the 20m drafting rules were being tested (okay, broken) for much of the first 20km, and Vincent Luis and Jonny Brownlee were just two athletes to fall foul of the draftbusters and receive 2min penalties.
By 40km, Ali Brownlee was safely dictating the tempo (rumours of a puncture proved unfounded) but a tactical game was playing out behind him, with athletes exchanging places and attempting to avoid drafting penalties. Two surprise casualties of the pace were 2014 Ironman world champ Kienle and five-time ITU champion Javier Gomez who both fell out of the reckoning, and Jonny Brownlee, who drifted to over 2mins back from the leaders.
The final 20km did little to excite the online viewers, but USA’s Rudi Von Berg would enter T2 in the lead, 10secs ahead of Aussie Sam Appleton and 18secs before Ali Brownlee. Rising 25-year-old Brit star Tom Davis was 25secs back, having finished second ahead of Tim Don at the Outlaw X in September.
A lot of movement in the run sees Brit @tomdavis1995 in first place and @sam_appo close behind him. Unfortunately, race favourite @AliBrownleetri is suffering with calf cramp and has fallen down the rankings to 19th #challengedaytona
Onto the run and Ali Brownlee took to the front of the race despite a shaky T2, and soon he’d dropped out after a reported calf issue. And so it was left to Brits Tom Davis and George Goodwin to scoop most of the UK’s attention as they moved through the field.
Goodwin, the Outlaw X 2020 winner who we profile in the next edition of 220 (out on 24th December), stepped up to second on the third lap in the pursuit of Iden, but had America’s Matt Hansen close behind him.
CONGRATULATIONS to young Norwegian Gustav Iden, the reigning World 70.3 Champion takes the win here at @challengedaytona the PTO 2020 World Championship. I was "in the zone, in the end I had pretty good control", winning focus from Iden! #challengedaytona
The pace was frenetic and the battle for the podium spots intense, but Iden’s victory looked assured from the third of four laps and the Norwegian would wrap up the title in 3:05:06.
Second was Hansen before Goodwin took third and a $50,000 pay day, before Canada’s Lionel Sanders and Von Berg rounded out the top five.
1. Gustav Iden (NOR) 3:05:06
2. Matthew Hanson (USA) 3:05:57 (+0:51)
3. George Goodwin (UK) 3:06:09 (+1:03)
4. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:06:19 (+1:10)
5. Rudi Von Berg (USA) 3:06:41 (+1:35)