Historic gold: Youri Keulen wins PTO T100 Singapore in sensational way

Youri Keulen wins PTO T100 Singapore (Picture: Instagram Keulen)

He has been called out for all sorts of things in recent months – most notably being called a ‘drafter’ and ‘cheater’ – but Dutch Youri Keulen has shown today and once again that he’s one of the best Middle Distance athletes in the world. In sensational fashion, setting out on his own adventure after only twenty kilometers on the bike by dropping all the big names, he has just recorded a historic victory by winning the PTO T100 Singapore. Keulen thus gives the best possible follow-up to his also sensational fourth place finish that he claimed at the PTO T100 in Miami last month.

During the swim, it was immediately noticeable that Sam Laidlow made a navigational error, straying from the large group and then having to swim back dozens of meters. At the same time, it was clear to see that Sam Long was immediately put at a great disadvantage, while it was Aaron Royle who set the pace at the front the most. It was Royle who climbed out of the warm water of more than thirty degrees Celsius first: he finished his 2 kilometers swim after 24:34 minutes and was immediately followed by Josh Amberger, Kyle Smith, Alistair Brownlee, Daniel Baekkegard, Ben Kanute, Jason West, Sam Laidlow, Mika Noodt, Youri Keulen and Kacper Stepniak. Long eventually came out of the water last, at 3:58 minutes behind, and then had to go full pursuit on the bike.

Keulen attacks

On the bike, it was initially Laidlow who took the lead at the first group, and rode in front for the first few kilometers. He did so for about twenty kilometers, because then it was Keulen who boldly took over the lead, and more than that: he rode so fast that he left everyone behind him and thus took off solo. Keulen visibly rode not only with his legs, but also with his head: the large breakaway group rode close together for the first twenty kilometers, so the risk of penalties was pretty high. Keulen seemed to realize that all too well, and by choosing to attack, not only that risk for Keulen was minimized, but he almost forced the men behind him to go into chase.

In any case, Keulen’s fast pace caused the original breakaway group to completely fall apart: halfway through the bike leg – so after 40km – Brownlee followed at 15 seconds, Pieter Heemeryck at 35 seconds, and men like Smith, Noodt, Stepniak, Royle and West also followed within a minute, but big names like Kanute and Laidlow lost a lot of time and were already looking at a gap of almost two minutes.

Keulen expands his lead

Keulen was possibly a little unlucky that behind him another group of six men came together and thus also joined in the chase, but he did not panic from it at all. On the contrary, Keulen kept going and saw his lead gradually increase. With 25 kilometers of biking to go, Keulen still looked fresh and totally in control and had a gap of already one minute.

While the chasing group tried everything to get closer to Keulen, they did not succeed; entering T2, Keulen had a lead of 1:05 minute and that put him in a good starting position for the final 18 kilometers of running. During the final kilometers on the bike, Keulen still had the awareness to quickly down a gel and fluid and his transition also looked fast and smooth.

Keulen runs to victory

While there may have been some fear that Keulen might have blown himself up on the bike or succumbed to the heat, that fear was immediately dispelled in the first kilometer of the run. With an impressive pace, Keulen flew over the run course and in the first kilometers his lead increased second by second. Behind him a pretty interesting battle ensued between the men in positions two, three, four and five, but after six kilometer Keulen saw his lead grow to almost 1:45 minute on his first pursuer: Noodt. Meanwhile, Long had begun an impressive catch-up: the American was already fifth and had made up a minute on Keulen, leaving some 2:30 minutes to go.

With one lap of 6km run to go, things were starting to get really exciting after all; Long had now run to second position and was again more than thirty seconds closer to Keulen. Thus, his gap had already shrunk to less than two minutes. Right at that moment, however, Long received the bad news that he had to serve a thirty-second time penalty because he had not properly stowed his gear in his box at the T2 transition. At least for Keulen, that meant an extra thirty seconds of margin.

In the final kilometers, Long did get a little closer to Keulen, but the Dutchman claimed victory in more than impressive fashion in a time of 3:21:01. Long finished second at +1:37 minute and Heemeryck third at +2:28 minute.