Can Kristian Blummenfelt do the Treble?
Newly crowned Olympic Champion, Kristian Blummenfelt never shy’s away from a challenge and readily lays his cards out on the table when he sets himself a goal. Having ticked Olympic Champion off his list last month, Kristian revealed shortly after the race during an interview with the World Triathlon Podcast that he aims to seal the WTCS World Series Champion title on his way to also winning Kona in October. This would be the ultimate Triathlon treble, combining Olympics, World Series and Kona in a span of 4 months. (All this on his way to attempting a Sub-7hr Iron Distance race with the Phoenix Foundation next Spring). Can he do it? Perhaps, but probably not, except maybe! Read on below to find out how he plans to complete the treble and how we think he can achieve it.
Olympic Champion - Done
Blummenfelt has been working for the Olympic Gold medal ever since he began training with his coach Arild Tveiten as a teenager. Building on some solid World Cup results and his first World Series races back in 2015 and 2016, Blummenfelt hit the headlines with back-to-back wins at the Madrid & Calgliari World Cups in May 2016. He went on to finish 13th at the Rio Olympics and has built from strength to strength ever since. Slowly working his way up the world rankings with consistent racing in 2017 and 2018, Blummenfelt had 9 WTS podiums to his name before eventually winning the ITU Lausanne Grand Final in 2019.
A resounding win at WTCS Yokohama at the start of May 2021 backed up by another win at the Lisbon World Cup had experts wondering if he had peaked too early for the Olympic year. In true Norwegian style though, Arild Tveiten had his three stars firing on all cylinders on the 26th of July as Kristian took home the Olympic Gold and Gustav Iden & Casper Stornes finished 8th and 11th respectively. Above and beyond the physical performance required to win the race, Blummenfelt’s victory in Tokyo demonstrated his willingness and ability to out-suffer competitors.
Heading onto the run with a group of nearly 20 medal hopefuls, Kristian wasn’t necessarily favoured as one of the faster runners. He managed his effort perfectly through the first laps and dug deep to run away from the race-favourite Alex Yee with just over a kilometre to go. Crossing the finish line you could see the pain etched across his face as every muscle in his body must have been screaming at him to stop.
WTCS Champion – Very Possible
The 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series will be contested over a total of 5 events (Yokohama – Leeds – Tokyo – Montreal – Edmonton) with each athlete counting their three best results and their Edmonton Grand Final result towards their points tally. Currently in the driving seat for the World Title is young Briton Alex Yee, Blummenfelt sits second, well clear of all the chasers. The world title should be contested between these two athletes this season unless a dramatic turn of events sees them fail to score any further points. The only two athletes who could realistically ruffle their feathers are Hayden Wilde and Marten van Riel, but this would require one of these two contenders to win both Montreal and Edmonton races.
Despite only having one win to his name (WTCS Leeds), Alex Yee’s 2nd place in Tokyo and 4th place in Yokohama give him a slender 39-point lead over the Norwegian in the world title race. Neither of the two athletes will be racing at WTCS Montreal this weekend, meaning the battle will come down to the Grand Final in Edmonton. With Ironman offering Kristian a wildcard for Kona (see the next section for more info), he will be able to prepare correctly for Edmonton before turning his attention to the big island. With such a small points gap between the two athletes, all Blummenfelt will need to do is beat Yee on the day. This is assuming they finish in the points and that neither Wilde nor Van Riel has sealed the Canadian double. If Wilde or Van Riel wins Montreal this weekend we will be getting our calculators out to figure out the permutations for the world title.
Despite being behind Yee in the current standings, his Grand Final and Big Day race experience would suggest he is the favourite to take home the world title. What might make the difference is whether he has fully turned his training towards Kona yet or not, we will have to follow his Strava to stay updated heading into race day.
Ironman Kona – Daring to Dream
Kristian Blummenfelt has never done an Ironman, and yet he’s clearly stated his intention and strongly believes that he has the capabilities to win the Ironman World Championships this October. Only one man, Jan Frodeno, has ever completed the Olympics-Ironman double, except he had 7 years between his two titles. Kristian is hoping to do it in the space of 4 months.
Within the next 8 weeks, Blummenfelt will have to race the WTCS Grand Final in Edmonton and then turn his attention fully to Kona, with the potential for racing 70.3 Worlds in St George looking less and less likely. At first glance it seems a big ask for Blummenfelt to fit in the required Ironman training if he truly wishes to be competitive at Edmonton as well.
Is it possible for Blummenfelt to win in Kona? If all the stars align yes. Is it probable that Blummenfelt will win in Kona? Absolutely not, looking at his programme objectively it seems almost outlandish to suggest that it is possible to align all those racing goals. Regardless of how the next 8 weeks play out for Blummenfelt and his Norwegian compatriots, it will be fascinating to follow as a triathlon fan, and a stunning story to write about if it pans out as he hopes.