Sam Long came from 32nd to first on the bike to set up an impressive victory at CLASH Miami, the first big race of the season Stateside.
The 26-year-old American, the top-ranked athlete in the field, made light of the hot and humid conditions which had caused so many problems earlier in the day in a dramatic women’s event which was won by Ashleigh Gentle.
And that was despite him losing ground in a frantic start to the swim before a course-record bike split of 1:19:18 put a very different complexion on things.
That gave him a 23-second advantage at the start of the run, with Magnus Ditlev and Ben Kanute – who led for most of the bike leg – the only two to keep him in range early on.
But that pair were overhauled on the penultimate lap by Jason West, who came out of the pack to take second, with Kanute keeping on for third in an all-American top three. Denmark’s Ditlev dropped back after struggling late on with the heat.
Long was relentless up front and stopped the clock in 2:39:55 to make the perfect start to his season.
We had a much bigger field compared to the women’s pro race (48 starters against 18) and there was plenty of close contact in the early stages.
Long looked to be one of the worst-affected and he would emerge from the water in 32nd. He was 2:33 adrift as Jonas Schomburg and Aaron Royle, fresh from his $100,000 Couples Championship win last weekend, drilled the pace up front.
Royle led first time out of the water before Schomburg dived in ahead of him for the second lap and stayed there, the duo managing to put half a minute and upwards into all their rivals. Kanute was closest to them in third.
Bike – Long makes his move
This was all about Long and Ditlev, who cut through the field in spectacular style.
Like Long, Ditlev was outside the top 20 after T1, but the pair soon started to chop down that gap on the front of the race, with the lead now held by Kanute.
A two-minute deficit was quickly below 60 seconds and Long made the catch passing through the aid station at the end of lap 13 out of 17
However Kanute stayed within range and limited Long’s advantage to 23 seconds at T2, while Ditlev had dropped back slightly and was 1:01 off the pace in third.
Run – Long makes no mistake
The run started with a fastest-of-the-day T2 time of 18 seconds for Kanute, which meant that was suddenly exactly the same gap between himself and Long beginning the run.
But ominously for his rivals, Long looked relaxed from the outset, a fact emphasised by his trademark interaction with fans.
Perhaps surprisingly Ditlev moved past Kanute early on to emerge as a threat, but the heat appeared to get to him on the fifth lap and he suddenly went from 45 seconds adrift to more than two minutes.
All the while, Long was judging the pace perfectly, keeping a constant cadence and never looked like relinquishing his advantage. He would eventually cross the line 1:51 to the good.
Fellow American West came out of the pack to surge past Ditlev and Kanute to take second and there is a special mention too for Germany’s Andreas Dreitz, who recovered from a flat tyre at the start of the bike (which left him a lap down in 41st) to almost sneak into the top 10. He eventually came home in 11th.
CLASH Miami Results 2022
Friday March 11, 2022
1. Sam Long (USA) 2:39:552. Jason West (USA) 2:41:473. Ben Kanute (USA) 2:42:314. Youri Keulen (NED) 2:42:515. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 2:43:18
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