The first stop on the new PTO Tour could be a World Championships preview
Edmonton will play host to one of the most star-studded triathlon fields of the year so far.
The first stop on the brand new PTO Tour will be the Canadian Open. With a $1 million prize purse on offer, naturally some of the best triathletes were game to participate. From Trek, American Ben Kanute will compete in the men’s race, and Holly Lawrence, Skye Moench and Ellie Salthouse will compete in the women’s race.
The women will race Saturday, followed by the men on Sunday. The Canadian Open is a middle distance event, meaning there will be a 2-kilometer swim, 80-kilometer bike and a 18-kilometer run. With the Ironman 70.3 World Championships looming at the end of October, Edmonton could give us an early taste of what the racing in St. George will be like.
Here’s your primer for one of the biggest races yet.
Kanute is currently ranked 18th in the PTO standings. He struggled early in the year, including finishing fourth at Escape from Alcatraz, an event he had won four times in a row.
But after completing a training camp in Oceanside, Calif., recently, Kanute is feeling confident about his chances in Canada.
“I’m feeling the most ready I have been all year,” Kanute said. “I love big races. I have always loved competing at Regional and World Championships and unique competitive events, and this is another high caliber event. It really makes racing interesting, and you have to be a solid all around triathlete to do well.”
Kanute is going against a men’s field that features seven of the top 10 finishers at the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Some of the heaviest hitters include the Norwegian duo of Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in the current PTO standings. Two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee is also headed to Edmonton to spice up the proceedings.
In the women’s race, Moench may be among the favorites to win in the midst of another strong season. She is coming off a win at Ironman Des Moines in June and a fourth-place finish at the 2021 Ironman World Championships in May. Salthouse and Lawrence should also heavily factor in the proceedings. Salthouse took eighth at the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Elsinore just a few weeks ago, despite a bike crash.
Lawrence is looking for a bit of redemption, too. She had to pull out of Escape from Alcatraz and the race in Elsinore because of a crash and illness, respectively. A strong result in Edmonton would be a good sign that she’s on her way to closing the season strong.
“I’m really looking forward to racing this weekend at the PTO Canadian Open,” Lawrence said. “The last few weeks have just been steadily building back. I may be lacking a bit of fitness but I’m healthy and ready to put it all out there.”
Laura Philipp will be the PTO standings’ highest ranked athlete in the field at No. 3 overall. (Moench is the second-highest at No. 7). She will certainly give the powerhouse Trek trio everything they can handle. Paul Findlay is another name to watch. She’s ranked No. 10 on the PTO standings, and she’ll be looking to impress on home soil.
The bike leg could be the deciding factor in the race, with 752 meters of elevation gain — that’s nearly 2,500 feet — to be surmounted. Thankfully for the athletes, the conditions look bearable. The women can expect a high of 77 degrees and sun with almost no wind. The men face a slight chance of rain, but the high temperature is forecasted at 78, and winds only up to nine miles per hour.
Kanute has raced the Hawrelak Park course several times in his career and is looking forward to the return trip.
“The swim is interesting with three loops, which means we will get to see where we are after each loop in comparison to others,” Kanute said. “The bike is rolling with a couple of punchy hills over four loops. It is not just a flat course where you are in aero the entire time. I think a lot of guys will be looking to ride hard whether they are trying to go off the front or catch back up to it. With a 20-meter draft rule, it is much harder to hide in the group, as well.”
Lawrence is looking forward to a potentially electric atmosphere along the track.
“The course looks fun. It’s definitely designed to be spectator friendly. It’ll be exciting to watch and probably a lot more busy on course than I’m used to,” Lawrence said. “I like to race stacked races; it’s an opportunity to race amongst the best. We don’t often get to race everyone outside of a World Champs, so it’ll be great to see how everyone’s shaping up for the year with eyes on 70.3 World Champs.”
How to watch
The women’s race will begin 10:45 a.m. local, 12:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. The men’s race will begin at 12:30 p.m. local, 2:30 p.m. ET. Want to catch the racing live? If you live in Europe, you can watch on Eurosport. The rest of the world can watch the race on the PTO+ app.
If you’ve been hankering for some ultra-competitive racing, you definitely won’t want to miss this event.