Rewire Athletes Matt Hanson and Ben Kanute put a close to their 2021 seasons on Saturday, as the Daytona Speedway swapped motor racing for some of the world’s finest triathletes. Taking on a course in and around a circuit best known for the season-opening Daytona 500 in NASCAR, a 20-strong men’s pro field looked to bring the curtain down in style on a 2021 season that held plenty of intrigue.
The Clash Daytona event took place just over a year on from the 2020 PTO Championships at the same venue, in which Matt Hanson took second place behind a dominant Gustav Iden. The 2021 event saw victories for Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt in the men’s race and American Jackie Hering in the women’s, the latter taking her first win of 2021.
The two-lap swim course took place in Lake Lloyd, an artificial body of water situated in the centre of the racetrack that was formed by the combination of a high water table, and the removal of enough earth to form the 31° banked turns at either end of the circuit.
After a commanding win by over 2 minutes at the California Ironman 70.3 just over a month prior, Kanute swapped West Coast for East, and was well-primed to take on the two kilometre swim. The 2016 Olympian led the field through the end of the swim in a time of 24:35, tied with eventual 12th-placer Marc Dubrick, 11 seconds ahead of their nearest challengers.
Matt Hanson was just over two minutes behind, his 26:36 placing him ninth out of the water.
While the bike leg for those in the amateur field took the athletes out of the stadium, the professionals had the benefit of staying within the confines of the circuit, tackling 20 four kilometre laps at a blistering pace. Seventh after the swim, Danish athlete Magnus Ditlev catapulted himself up the field to finish the bike leg in first place, after completing the 80 kilometres in 1:40:44, nearly two minutes faster than his closest competitor.
Both Kanute and Hanson had steady cycle legs, with Kanute producing 1:44:08 for fifth-fastest leg, and Hanson 1:44:32 for seventh-fastest, the pair split by former WorldTour cyclist Adam Hansen. Kanute was fourth into T2, positioned behind Ditlev and the pair who would join him on the podium at the conclusion of the race, Kristian Blummenfelt and Rudy von Berg.
Despite a bike leg that averaged 47.6 km/h, giving him a buffer of over 2.5 minutes ahead of the chasing Kristian Blummenfelt, it did not prove to be enough as the Olympic champion reeled in and caught the fading Dane well before the line.
It should be no surprise that fresh off the fastest men’s Ironman time in history, Blummenfelt produced a searing run over the 18 kilometres, finishing in a time of 58:18 for the overall victory and a total time of 3:08:30.
Ditlev was the next athlete home, followed by von Berg, with fourth position occupied by a charging Matt Hanson. With Hanson the only man under the hour mark on the run bar Blummenfelt, 59:44 led the Minnesota-born athlete to a total time of 3:12:46, and a healthy prize pot of $5,500.
Kanute unfortunately did not fare so well on his run, his 1:05:47 dropping the 28-year-old two places to sixth overall in a time of 3:16:11. However, the University of Arizona alum can look back at a highly successful 2021 season that cemented his place as one of the world’s best, with a top 10 PTO ranking, and victories in both the California Ironman 70.3 and Escape from Alcatraz, as well as strong showings at both the Collins Cup and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
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