WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2021
Norwegian triathlete Kristian Blummenfelt spent years dreaming about his Olympic moment. Endless hours of training. Focused preparation. Sacrifice. On July 25, it all paid off in the best way possible: Olympic gold.
Battling the heat and humidity in Tokyo, Blummenfelt put together the race of a lifetime, capping a dominant performance by his three-man Norwegian team, which had the best overall results of any nation. Blummenfelt’s teammate Gustav Iden, a fellow Giant-sponsored athlete, also cracked the top-10 with an impressive eighth-place finish. Blummenfelt’s win marked the first Olympic gold for Norway since the 2012 London Olympics.
Some saw Blummenfelt’s career-defining victory as a surprise. But for the driven 27-year-old, it was always part of the plan. A decade ago, he made it his goal to win gold in Tokyo, and as he stood on the pontoon before the start of the swim he expected nothing less than a win. “I wanted a medal, obviously I preferred the gold medal,” he said. “Everything else I would have been disappointed with.”
Much of that confidence came down to preparation. At the start of 2021, Blummenfelt teamed up with Giant to help elevate his performance on the bike. As international triathlon racing finally started coming back to life in the spring of this year, Blummenfelt emerged as one of the top contenders for Tokyo. In May, he won the World Triathlon Championship Series opener in Yokohama, Japan—an event that was considered by many to be a preview of the upcoming Olympic race. One week later, Blummenfelt triumphed again at a World Triathlon Cup race in Portugal.
Those two victories followed a similar pattern for Blummenfelt: a strong ride on the bike, followed by a devastating attack in the closing kilometers of the run. After such a long time away from racing, Blummenfelt had reached a new level. He was smooth and confident on his new Propel Advanced SL Disc race bike, riding solidly in the front group. In Yokohama, he hit the run in fourth position, then went on to win by 10 seconds on the strength of his run. It was a similar scenario the following week, when Blummenfelt won in Portugal with an 8-second margin of victory.
Final preparations for Tokyo took place in the high mountains of Sierra Nevada, Spain and Font Romeu, France. Blummenfelt and Iden went there to work with a team of sports scientists. “I would say I’ve always been willing to put in the extra work,” Blummenfelt said. “Because I didn’t get the big results at a young age, I thought if I didn’t have the talent to become one of the best I really have to work harder. Training hard, pushing myself every day is what I love doing.”
That love of digging deep was on full display for the world to witness at the Tokyo Games. Coming off a tough swim, he started on the bike in 26th place and had his work cut out for him. Blummenfelt hit the 40km bike leg flying on his new Propel Advanced SL Disc, which was easy to spot with special graphics drawing inspiration from the shippo pattern, a common design in Japanese art and fashion. The overlapping circles and shapes symbolize harmony and happiness, and the five colors combine to convey a sense of motion and speed in the pursuit of victory.
The frameset is crafted with Giant’s premium Advanced SL composite material and is engineered with Giant’s AeroSystem Shaping technology—which means every tube shape and angle is optimized for minimal drag and designed to work as a system in real-world road conditions. The design is a result of extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics studies and dynamic wind-tunnel testing. The tubes feature a truncated ellipse shape, which, combined with aero components including the Contact SLR Aero cockpit and CADEX WheelSystem and tires, minimize drag at various yaw angles.
Wearing his Giant Pursuit helmet, Blummenfelt quickly began making his way up through the pack. He surged all the way up to 8th place by T2 and hit the 10km run 23 seconds behind race leader Andreas Salvisberg of Switzerland. Ahead of him were competitors known for their running strength, including eventual silver medal winner Alex Yee of Great Britain. But Blummenfelt began picking them off one by one. In the final kilometer, it came down to a battle between Blummenfelt, Yee and New Zealander Hayden Wilde. The Norwegian knew the only way to beat the two men known for their running speed was to escape before the finishing kick.
“I don’t really have the leg speed if it came down the carpet against these guys,” Blummenfelt told Reuters after the finish. “So I knew I had to drag it out from about five minutes away and go really, really hard and all out—and hopefully it would be enough to break them.”
Blummenfelt poured it on, a full sprint to gap Yee and Wilde, who were left to fight for silver and bronze. Once they were gone, the Norwegian was able to absorb the moment he had envisioned over the past decade plus—racing to Olympic glory on the blue carpet finishing stretch. Crossing the line, he let out a roar, grasped the finish-line tape, and collapsed.
“It’s the moment I’ve been dreaming about for so many years,” Blummenfelt said. “Seeing the finish line and the blue carpet and touching that tape—to be able to put it together on the day is something I’m really proud of.”