Taylor Knibb lights up Ironman 70.3 Oceanside!

Taylor Knibb and Sam Long put on impressive displays of fitness in California

One of the biggest years ever in Trek Factory Racing Triathlon history continues to be one of the strongest. This past weekend at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, Taylor Knibb gave a dominant performance to win by nearly 11 minutes in the women’s race. Fenella Langridge also performed well, taking sixth at 4:30 outside of second place. On the men’s side, Sam Long notched his fifth consecutive podium, taking second at just 1:11 behind Lionel Sanders.

The results build on a strong opening race for Long and Holly Lawrence last month at the T100 Triathlon World Tour opener in Miami, where both athletes took the podium. Coming up, Long heads to Singapore for Round 2 of the T100 along with Ben Kanute (14th in Miami). The season is heating up, with eyes towards major races in the summer and fall.

Knibb and Long sat down with the Race Shop to talk about their weekends in Oceanside, and what’s next for them this season.

One race in, one big win for Taylor Knibb in 2024.

Taylor Knibb flashes dominance

Langridge had a strong swim to lead Oceanside out of the water. After that, it was the Taylor Knibb Show. Knibb led the race by 1:15 at the first checkpoint at 20k and never looked back. At the end of the 90k ride, she led by more than 10 minutes over second-place Paula Findlay.

The race was a big relief for Knibb, who was supposed to open her season at the World Triathlon Championship Series opener in Abu Dhabi last month, before the race was canceled due to weather. She showed she’s in great shape on her mission to perform at the Paris Olympics in July. Here was her reaction to Oceanside: 

On finally getting to race: “The Abu Dhabi cancellation really bummed me out, more than I thought it would. It took me about a week after getting home to get back into full training. I knew the biggest objective this weekend in Oceanside was to validate my 70.3 Worlds slot. So I really wanted to complete the race first and foremost. I also wanted a little taste of where I am fitness-wise. I have new coaches this year, so there was a bit of unknown. But I was just really excited to get to race!”

I have new coaches this year, so there was a bit of unknown. But I was just really excited to get to race!

On her performance: “A win is always nice. I will never take winning for granted. I would say I’m disappointed with some aspects of my race, so it’s a bit bitter-sweet. I wanted to run much better. I need to sort things out. So it’s hard to not just look forward and see everything that I want and need to keep working on. But I do have to be super excited and grateful for where my biking is at the moment. I also didn’t do much specific preparation for this race because the No. 1 goal is Paris, so I need to look at everything with a bit better context.” 

On her run: “I have a lot of mixed feelings about my run. I felt like I was just running uphill and fighting myself the whole time. I never really found a rhythm. I really wanted to and thought I would run better than that. But I also have to just be super grateful. Last year, I was commentating on Oceanside because I wasn’t even running yet. I would have been so excited to be able to race and run 13.1 miles healthy.”

Taylor laying down a blistering pace on her Speed Concept.

On what’s next: “Next up for me in my build up to Paris is WTCS Yokohama. I’ll race WTCS Cagliari two weeks later. So unless I’m able to add a race on May 15th, I’ll be back on my road bike and focusing purely on the Olympic distances — 1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run.

Sam Long is on a hot streak of podiums.

Sam Long establishes consistency

Long will gladly take a win when he can, but he’s incredibly proud of the consistency streak he’s on. Going back to September 2023, he has placed third or better at five straight events, including a win at Ironman 70.3 Pucon. He already has three podium performances on the year. And proving he has a strong baseline performance could set him up for big success in the near future.

Here are his reactions to Oceanside, including what it was like getting to show off with his family at the race with him.

On how the race played out: “On an individual basis, I did roughly the performance I was expecting to have within myself. My initial goal was to push the bike a little bit less and run a little bit faster, but then how the race dynamics played out, it made sense to push the bike. You know me, sometimes I just get carried away on the bike [laughs].”

A happy Sam at the finish.

On takeaways from the race: “Tactically, I do feel like I should have made Lionel do a little bit more work on the bike. Because I was kind of the one doing all the work, and I think that put me at a disadvantage on the run. So maybe I didn’t use my strengths as well as I could have. I feel like he ended up looking maybe better even though I think we’re more equal in ability levels.”

On heading to Singapore: “I always love doing these double race blocks. I think it’s because it raises the stakes, and it makes me so motivated to do the training leading into it. It’s like, ‘OK, I got two coming up. I need to be strong at both. I need to manage all the logistics really well and travel really well.’ And for sure, the T100 is the most exciting thing for me this year.

“The T100 is where the stakes are high and you really got to perform. And for me, I love the hot races. I love the 20-meter draft rule. So I’m definitely shooting for another podium on the T100.”

[My family] just brought more enjoyment to the whole week. All that fear is gone. Let's bring them to all the races.

On Oceanside’s personal significance: “Oceanside was important for me because I’ve been there a lot. It’s kind of been my Achilles heel every year, actually. I’ve always gone and it’s always my worst race of the whole year. So I had to go and turn that around for me. I just wanted to go and do that and have a great time with the family.”

On racing in front of his family: “It was so fun. I think I overcame the fear of bringing a baby and potentially losing sleep, and having all the other duties involved with the race besides just racing. I realized that those things definitely did not hamper my performance in any way whatsoever. They just brought more enjoyment to the whole week. All that fear is gone. Let’s bring them to all the races. So I just feel free in my mind.”

Sam is charging full speed into T100 racing.

On his consistency:  “I’m super proud of that. It’s my fifth podium in a row, and already my third podium of the year. 

“I just think it’s a sign of becoming a great athlete. It’s something that’s really difficult to do, and it’s taken me years to grow into that. I think at first you get one result, and then you get too up on the high of that, and then you fall off. Or you’re able to get one really good performance out of your body, but you’re performing above what you’re capable of, while right now, I’m just performing. Like at Oceanside, I would say I performed exactly where I was capable. I didn’t have an amazing race. I didn’t have a bad race. I just did what I was capable of, and that was second.”