Taylor Knibb (USA) Gives a Masterclass Performance to win PTO US Open in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, US: American Taylor Knibb claimed her first PTO Tour title by leading imperiously from the front on the bike and then the run to claim a deserved PTO US Open in Milwaukee.
Despite having the PTO World #1 and great rival Australian Ashleigh Gentle in her rear view mirror for most of the 100km race, Knibb delivered a home win in front of a partisan crowd, thanks to the fact the races have been hosted alongside the USA Triathlon National and Junior Championships this week.
The 24-year-old Knibb gave a stacked women’s field containing 11 of the 20 PTO Ranked athletes a swim, bike and run masterclass from start to finish which confirmed her status as the very bright future of the sport.
In her post race TV interview, Knibb started by saying: “Well, I’m relieved. I’m glad that’s over. You know, there are races that feel good and there are races that don’t. And that was one where it was from the first stroke of the swim, I’m like, oh, it’s going to be a long day!”
But asked to sum up her feelings on taking the top step as such a big race, she also said: “Well, I’m really grateful to race here in the US at this kind of race. I raced here for the first time ten years ago and Chrissie Wellington was at the finish line giving me medals. I have a picture. And so it’s just fun to be back. It’s fun to be racing. It’s fun to be doing a different distance and finally mixing it up with the other women.”
She also revealed she’d been given a helping hand by yesterday’s winner of the PTO US Open men’s race: “But like Jan Frodeno says, pressure is a privilege. And actually he was out there on the bike course, like, way, way out. And he yelled at me: ‘believe, believe’. So I have to thank him for that. That’s what really makes a true champion.”
Summing up her feelings, second placed Ashleigh Gentle said she felt a mixture of pride and frustration: “It would have been nice to defend my title, but I gave it 110%, so I can’t be disappointed. Taylor was the better athlete on the day and she had a phenomenal race. It does hurt to lose, but how can you be disappointed when you lose like that to Taylor?”
Third placed Findlay was both ‘relieved’ and ‘proud’ of her performance saying: “It always feels good to finish on the podium, especially in these things. They’re so competitive, so I’m happy.”
How the Action Unfolded
The women’s race saw the field quickly fractured in the swim, Lauren Brandon – PTO Swim Rank #3 –using her swim pace to break things up. Taylor Knibb (PTO World #6) was best of the rest in the water but was soon in the lead on the bike and pulling away from the rest of the competition.
With the women on two wheels, a chase group formed including PTO World #1 Ashleigh Gentle, Paula Findlay (PTO World #5), Ellie Salthouse (PTO World #37), and Holly Lawrence (PTO World #9). Knibb’s advantage ebbed and flowed between around 1:30 and just under 2:00, but the American didn’t create the huge lead many had predicted.
The biggest shakeup on the bike came in the last few laps as Britain’s Lucy Byram (PTO World #36) ripped through the bike course, moving from 10th to second – only Findlay able to keep with her as they made a gap on the rest.
As T2 loomed, the stage was set – Knibb holding a 1:27 lead to Byram and Findlay, with Gentle and Salthouse another 1:13 back and Lawrence a further 18 seconds in arrears.
Knibb was running well, but Gentle made up almost a minute of her 3-minute deficit in the first 5k, easily moving into second place. From there, pre-race predictions would’ve put Gentle as the clear winner but Knibb was relentless in her pace, holding the Australian at bay.
The gap came down to 51 seconds but it was Knibb who was crowned PTO US Open Champion on home soil, taking the tape in 3:32:58 to earn $100,000. Gentle took second – adding to her non-stop podium streak in PTO Tour races – and scoring $50,000. Findlay was third, 4:44 back, taking $35,000 for her efforts.
A breakthrough performance for Byram saw the Brit take home $15,000 for fourth place, while Lawrence out-sprinted Salthouse for fifth and a cheque for $10,000.
- Taylor Knibb (USA) – $100,000
- Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) – $50,000
- Paula Findlay (CAN) – $35,000
- Lucy Byram (GBR) – $20,000
- Holly Lawrence (GBR) – $14,000
- Ellie Salthouse (AUS) – $10,000
- Kat Matthews (GBR) – $8,500
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