Neumann outshines triathlon kings to clinch PTO European Open crown

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Neumann, 27, beat Olympic champion Blummenfelt and Danish ace Ditlev to the summit of the podium in Ibiza
Neumann, 27, beat Olympic champion Blummenfelt and Danish ace Ditlev to the summit of the podium in Ibiza

By Will Jennings in Ibiza

Max Neumann delivered a stunning late surge to topple triathlon kings Alistair Brownlee, Kristian Blummenfelt and Jan Frodeno and clinch the maiden PTO European Open crown in Ibiza.

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Two-time Olympic champion Brownlee, 35, led for large parts of the middle distance 100km showpiece but was unable to hold on as Tokyo gold medallist Blummenfelt finished second in the Balearic battle.

Magnus Ditlev bagged the bronze medal as Beijing 2008 champion Frodeno, widely-regarded as the greatest triathlete of all-time, was pipped to the podium by the Dane.

Australian ace Neumann, 27, trailed Brownlee and New Zealand’s Kyle Smith heading into the final transition but rapidly reeled them in to ascend the PTO throne’s top spot on the day of King Charles III’s coronation back in the UK.

Run by the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO), the event was the first time Brownlee, Blummenfelt and Frodeno - the three Olympic champions since the Games in China 15 years ago - had raced against each other as the radical recent start-up bids to enhance the visibility of the sport.

And it was Brownlee and Frodeno, 41, who came storming out of the blocks on the swim as Blummenfelt, 29, lagged behind in what is his weakest discipline of the three.

But it was Aussie ace Aaron Royle who set the early aquatic pace as he opened up a healthy advantage heading into the 80km cycle.

He was soon leapfrogged by four-time ITU world champion Brownlee, however, who hauled himself to the front of the field alongside Kiwi star Smith.

Blummenfelt remained around minute off the pace while fellow Scandinavian Ditlev, 25, embarked on a race-changing surge up the field by gaining 15 places.

Brownlee entered the final transition in the lead with a slender advantage over Smith, with Blummenfelt and Frodeno leaving themselves with considerable work to do over the 18km run around the scenic Ibiza Town.

But it was current world No.7 Neumann, who finished fourth in the Ironman World Championships in Kona last year, who had the most left in the tank as he caught the leaders at around the halfway mark of the six-lap run.

Brownlee’s hopes evaporated as his fitness started to fade while Blummenfelt, the current world No.1 ramping up preparations for the Paris Olympic Games next summer, embarked on a thrilling late pursuit of Neumann.

But it was the Australian star who held on to outshine the big names in Ibiza as he led home Blummenfelt, Ditlev, Frodeno, American Jason West and Brownlee to claim an impressive PTO title in the Spanish sun.

The PTO European Open races took place on Saturday 6 May, with the men starting at 0815 CET and the women at 0945 CET. Both were broadcast live on Eurosport 2