PTO Asian Open Preview

Klemen Suligoj gives us a full breakdown of this year's final PTO race

It seems like it was only yesterday that we saw the best triathletes put on a show in the PTO US Open and the dust definitely hasn’t settled down completely yet. However, the next battle is nearly upon us as a star studded field of triathletes is ready to perform in Singapore for the PTO Asian Open.

PTO Asian Open is the third and last PTO Tour race this season, following the European Open in Ibiza on May 6th and PTO US Open on August 4th-5th .

When: The Women's race starts on Saturday, August 19th at 15.00 local time (8:00 UK time, 9:00 CET or 3:00 EST) and men's race starts on Sunday, August 20th at 15.00 local time (8:00 UK time, 9:00 CET or 3:00 EST).

How to watch: For viewers in Europe, the race will be broadcasted on Eurosport, Discovery+ and GCN+. For spectators from the rest of the world, there will be a live stream available on PTO+ and on YouTube.

Distance: PTO Open races are raced over 100 km with a 2 km swim, 80 km bike and 18 km run.

Big prize: The prize fund has been changed for the 2023 season and is now $600,000 USD per event with $100,000 for the winner, $50,000 for second and $35,000 for third place. From there, prize money drops quite quickly and is capped at $2,000 for athletes placed 26th-30th. There is equal prize money for men and women.




At the moment of writing this preview, Kristian Blummenfelt is still in Paris for the Olympic test event. In fact, he is still waiting to compete in the test event, which is scheduled on Friday! Norwegian will then hop on the plane and travel halfway across the globe to compete in the PTO Asian Open. By his own words, the result in Paris doesn’t matter that much to him as the main focus is to get to know the course and the conditions. That said, some of us still remember him sprinting for the win in the 1st round of Superleague, despite it not mattering at all. We know Kristian can’t take it easy and always wants to win, especially in Singapore, where he wants to finally get a win in a PTO Open event.

There are not many athletes that would be disappointed with a 3rd place in PTO US Open, but Blu is one of them. We thought he had it in the bag when he came out of the water in the front and rode away on the bike, but a quadriceps cramp in T2 and on the run stopped him just enough to take the win away from him. Despite the cramps, Blummenfelt ran with blistering Jason West until the final metres and had the 5th fastest run split. Given his form in all 3 disciplines, he is the top favourite for the win, but it will be interesting to see how he manages all the racing, travel fatigue and issues with cramping.


We knew Jason West is the fastest runner out there. He had by far the fastest run in Ibiza, beating Blummenfelt by a minute and a half and third fastest runner Max Neumann by almost 2 minutes, but his run in the PTO US Open was on a whole new level. West ran a stunning 56:22, outrunning everyone by 5 minutes (!). What’s even more fascinating is the fact that he said he actually aimed to run 55 minutes, so I’d be worried if I were to compete against him.

However, West is not the best swimmer and seems to struggle even more on the bike. He lost a minute to the front of the race in Milwaukee and approximately 4 more minutes on the bike. With his next level run, he was able to catch everyone except Frodeno, who finished 20 seconds in front of him. The recipe for West in Singapore is simple: if he manages to execute the same swim as in Milwaukee and bike a little bit better, we could see him take the win.


Only a couple of days after becoming a father, Sam Long proved he is a real deal with a 5th place in the PTO US Open. Coming out of the water way back in 27th place, Sam slowly climbed through the ranks with a great bike and managed to secure a spot in top 5 and 10.000 $ for his family.

In his post race interview, the Big Unit said his remaining goals for the season are PTO Asian Open and 70.3 World Championship with more focus on the Asian Open because the course suits him and he performs well in the heat. Encouraged by a good result in Milwaukee and with his young family in mind, Sam will be one to watch in Singapore. Where he’ll end up will largely depend on his deficit coming out of the water.


Gustav’s 2023 season so far has been one to forget. He put all his focus on the 2024 Olympic games and competed only in the Arena games and WTCS races. His return to short course racing was far from ideal with his best result (outside of Arena games) being 14th place in the Europe Triathlon Cup in Quarteira in March. He also went through a rough period personally, losing his mother to cancer. Recently, it was announced Gustav will not be a part of the Norwegian team for the Paris test event.

In one of the interviews, his compatriot and training partner Kristian Blummenfelt said Gustav’s training hasn’t been going that well and his form is far from ideal. Iden posted a pretty unusual update for him on Instagram this week, criticising the federation’s decision not to include him in the team for the Paris test event, while simultaneously stating that his fitness is getting better, but he “has no expectations to perform with the top dogs in Singapore”. In spite of this, he is set to return to racing in the PTO Asian Open, where given his history in 70.3 and PTO events, he would normally be considered as one of the biggest favourites for the win. Norwegian’s true form is a mystery so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up and whether he can begin his comeback to winning ways.



After 8th place in the PTO European Open and 3rd place in Challenge Roth, Kanute came to Milwaukee with high hopes for a great result on home soil. But his PTO US Open ended with a disappointing 23rd place. He was in front on the swim as expected, but started drifting down the result list on the bike and finished with the slowest run split of the day. What went wrong? That’s the question Ben will be asking himself desperately in the lead up to the PTO Asian Open.
Kanute is a strong swimmer and with other strong swimmers we’ll see in Singapore (Royle, Laidlow, Baekkegard etc.), they should really aim to push the pace early. By doing so, they could put pressure on guys like Blummenfelt and West and cause them to spend more energy to catch up. Ultimately, Ben’s bike-run combo will determine how long he can stay in the lead group and whether he can contend for the top spots in the end.


Baekkegard is a dangerous athlete who is always somewhere near the front, but never really contends for top places. He said he wanted to fight for the podium in the PTO US Open, but once again fell short, finishing in 6th.

Daniel comes from a swimming background and is one of those who push the pace early in the race. He did so in Ibiza and Milwaukee, but was then unable to keep up on the bike and lost some more time on the run. He is a great athlete, don’t be mistaken; but it seems he is missing that extra something that would elevate him to someone who can contend for a win. We can once again expect Baekkegard in front of the swim, but his bike and run don’t seem to be good enough for him to podium in Singapore, so I expect him to once again finish somewhere in the 4th-7th range.


Laidlow dropped from “most talked about athletes” to “outside the main spotlight” with his performances in 2023. He was a huge surprise in Kona but it seems that the pressure got to him as he wasn’t able to replicate his success this year. Sure, he won Challenge Gran Canaria at the start of the season, but then DNF’d in Lanzarote, decided to skip the PTO European Open and blew up on the run in Challenge Roth, tearing his calf in the process.

Laidlow decided to skip the PTO US Open and race Challenge London instead. Competing in a far less stellar field might be something he needed to take the win, regain some confidence in his fitness and make sure he recovered from injury. We know what kind of a racer Laidlow is, so we can expect him to push right from the start. He is a great swimmer and cyclist, but will he be able to run like he did in Kona or will we once again see him blow up?



The 23 year old German was on his way to the top in 2022, but then saw his progress stopped by a broken fibula at the start of this season. The injury left him sidelined up until now, when he got a wild card to compete in the PTO Asian Open.

We know Mika can perform: he was 9th in the 2022 PTO US Open and 4th in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. He has been preparing diligently after the injury and spent the last 3 weeks before the race on a training camp in Phuket. His swim was not the best before his injury, but nobody knows if and how much he progressed during his rehabilitation. What we do know is that he is fresh, motivated, heat adapted and without jet lag. Mika has everything he needs for a top result and I expect to see him somewhere near the top.



Ashleigh Gentle extended her amazing result tally in PTO races with a 2nd place in PTO US Open and now has 2 PTO Open wins and 2 second places in her career. Her performance in the PTO US Open might be her best performance ever, as she swam and came off the bike closer to the leader than in previous races. Everyone expected her to gain time on the run and she did exactly that, as she had the best run split of the day, but it wasn’t enough to catch Taylor Knibb. It’s not that Ashleigh had a bad race or a bad run; she executed her race really well. To put things into perspective: Ashleigh beat 3rd placed Paula Findlay by 4 minutes, but unfortunately for her, Knibb was on an even higher level in Milwaukee.

In Singapore, Gentle will once again face her rivals from the PTO European Open, Anne Haug and Lucy Charles Barclay. While she was able to hunt down Lucy in Ibiza, she had no answer for Anne’s amazing run performance. This will be Gentle’s last race of the season, as she doesn’t plan to race 70.3 Worlds or Kona, and will return home after spending the last 4 months abroad. Encouraged by performing close to home and a good swim-bike performance in Milwaukee, Ashleigh can go all in in this race. She will hope to stay as close as possible to Lucy on the bike while getting an even bigger gap to Haug than in Ibiza, then to catch Lucy on the run while holding Anne behind her.

Anne doesn’t race as much as most of her competitors, but when we see her on the start line, we can be sure she’s in top form. Fun fact: last time Anne didn’t finish on the podium was Ironman Frankfurt in 2018, when she finished 4th! After her amazing performance in the PTO European Open, Anne finished 2nd in Challenge Roth and then took a 2 month “break”. We saw pictures of her training in Lanzarote with Lucy Charles Barclay and Jan Frodeno and we believe the social media, she’s ready to hit it again in Singapore.

Calling any of the disciplines her weakness would be blasphemy. She did however fall behind on the swim in Ibiza, losing 30 seconds to the group of Gentle, Findlay etc. That didn’t come back to haunt her as she had nearly the best bike split and by far the best run split of the day to take a comfortable win. In Singapore, she will have to be careful not to fall too far behind, especially since Gentle and Charles Barclay are two of the best runners themselves.


We were all surprised not to see Lucy on the start list of the PTO US Open. She actually hasn't raced at all since Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau at the end of May and didn’t post many training updates as she normally does. What we did know is that she was doing some aerodynamics testing on the bike and spent a lot of time in Lanzarote. Only earlier this week, Lucy posted an update on her training since May: she actually suffered a foot injury - she broke her metatarsal during the race in Kraichgau and was focusing on healing as soon as possible while maintaining as much fitness as possible.

With both Ironman 70.3 World Championship and Kona still to come, we can assume Lucy put in a big training block before the second part of the season. She herself said she spent a lot of time swimming, rowing and cycling and she posted some amazing cycling sessions in Lanzarote. Singapore will be the first indication of her form and from what we’ve seen so far, her rivals can be worried if she raised her fitness even further. There’s no doubt about her leading the swim and pushing the pace on the bike. The question is how well she can perform on the run and whether anyone can catch her or will she go wire to wire.



Ironman World Champion’s 2023 season is not going according to plan. Chelsea was 2nd in Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, but what followed were DNFs in PTO European Open and Challenge Roth and a surprising (and unannounced!) DNS in the PTO US Open.

After her Kona success, Chelsea faced mental issues (which she addressed openly) and the burden of expectation seems to have gotten to her. Looking at her social media updates, she seems to be fit and training, so one can only speculate what the reason behind her DNS at a home race was.

Chelsea is however on the start list for the PTO Asian Open and has already travelled to Singapore. She is more than capable of achieving a great result. Her biggest weakness is the swim, where she’ll be hoping to stay in a strong group and then stay close to the front of the race on the bike. Chelsea is a strong bike-runner, so we can expect her to gain places towards the end of the race, but the question is whether she can get on the podium with the likes of Haug, Gentle and LCB in the race.

Fenella is coming to Singapore straight after a win in her home race, Challenge London. While the field was not that strong, a home win will definitely serve as a good confidence and mood boost before a much more stacked PTO Asian Open. Her race in Ibiza didn’t go as planned, as she swam and biked well, but then the wheels fell off the wagon on the run and she finished in 15th place.

We know Fenella can swim and bike well, but her run is just not on a good enough level for her to contend for top spots in most competitive races. Against phenomenal runners like Haug, Gentle, LCB and Sodaro, I’m afraid Fenella will keep losing places throughout the race and fight for a top 5 spot in the end.


Ellie is one of the athletes doing the US Open - Asian Open double. Her performance in Milwaukee was a real confidence boost after a lackluster race in Ibiza and she will be even more motivated to give her best in a race close to her home.

In Milwaukee, Ellie swam and cycled well and stayed in the 2nd pack until Lucy Byram came storming from behind, taking Paula Findlay with her and establishing a gap before the start of the run. That gap was big enough for Byram to hold on to 4th place while Ellie finished 6th, 21 seconds behind Lucy and just behind 5th placed Holly Lawrence. Singapore will be a great chance for Ellie to get an even better result if she replicates her Milwaukee performance, although it’s hard to see her on the podium if top contenders perform their best.



Picking a dark horse in races like PTO Asian Open is hard, but if i had to choose one, It’d be Lotte Wilms. 39 year old Dutch triathlete won Ironman Austria and Challenge St. Polten this year and also achieved a very respectable 9th place in the PTO European Open. Despite all that, we don’t see her mentioned in the media that much and in Singapore, she might surprise many.

Lotte is one of the best swimmers around and she came out of the water 2nd in Ibiza, only 30 seconds behind LCB and a minute before the 2nd pack. She’s a good cyclist and she only lost about 60-90 seconds to the likes of LCB, Findlay, Gentle or Haug in Ibiza. Her weakness however is the run, where he loses a lot of time against the best. She was able to run well on a couple of occasions in the past (e.g. she had the 7th fastest run split in PTO US Open 2022) and if all the puzzle pieces fall into place, we can see her near the top.

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