The PTO European Open promised to be the first big appointment on the 2023 race calendar. A world class field assembled in Ibiza including three former Olympic Champions. Max Neumann and Kristian Hogenhaug took to the starting line for the BMC Pro Triathlon Team p/b 2XU. Neumann had proven to be nearing his top shape with an outstanding victory in Hell of the West earlier in the year. For Hogenhaug it was his season opener.
And what a race it turned out to be! Neumann delivered one of his career best performances and it was the BMC Pro Triathlete who outshone some of the greatest-ever names in men’s triathlon to become the first-ever PTO European Open Champion. Kristian Blummenfelt finished 2nd 27 seconds back with Magnus Ditlev rounding out the podium in 3rd.
Teammate Kristian Hogenhaug put together a very solid performance to finish in 16th.
Max started his day with an excellent swim. The 2km wetsuit swim saw the BMC athlete exiting the water in 6th place as part of a lead group of 10. After that there was a clear split behind, with the first 10 all within 20 seconds but then a gap of more than a minute from the leader to the rest. After a fast transition Neumann made the connection with the front of the race. In the opening stages of the bike a lead group of 7 was formed with Neumann riding attentively. 25K in, the group of seven held an advantage of 1' over the first chasers. Halfway through the bike Ditlev and Blummenfelt were able to bridge across. In the third of four 20km loops the lead group started to splinter, with Neumann, Smith and Brownlee creating a small gap between themselves and the rest. It was only Ditlev who was able to close the gap and make it four at the front of the race. Coming into transition the 4 leaders had opened up a gap of 1' on the first chasers, with Neumann jumping off his bike in 3rd. In the early stages of the run it was Alistair Brownlee who made a move and opened up a gap with Max sitting in second. But at the halfway point Neumann had clawed back the deficit and went up and over to take the lead. It was Blummenfelt who came surging towards the closing stages of the 18K run, but the BMC athlete had enough left in the tank to take home a tremendous win.
Afterwards Neumann reflected on his magnificent performance: "It is quite emotional. I love racing and racing like this with Kristian Blummenfelt breathing down your neck, it is literally why we do it. I couldn't have asked for more really. Alistair and Kyle pushed the pace on the bike. I struggled a bit in the first two laps, but my legs came good the last two laps. I paced the first two laps of the run and was able to keep up a very strong pace, but at one point I lost 20" in one lap, so I know I was in for a very tough final lap. I was able to dig deep and hang in there to take the win here".