Photos: T100 Triathlon World Tour

By Kent Gray/
Kyle Smith may have been denied a maiden T100 win by a whisker, but his San Francisco silver lining quickly dulled any initial disappointment.

In the space of two months, the 26-year-old Kiwi has gone from outsider looking in on the T100 Triathlon World Tour to a genuine title contender and on the cusp of the PTO world top-10.

Smith has kicked on from his memorable 5th as a wildcard on T100 debut in Singapore on April 14 to win the Challenge Championship in Samorin, Slovakia before being narrowly out kicked by Paris Olympics-bound Belgian Marten Van Riel in Sunday’s T100 San Francisco.

The very near-thing in an epic finishing chute sprint sees Smith up to 14th in the PTO World Rankings and 4th in the T100 season standings behind only American Sam Long, Dutchman Youri Keulen and Dane Magnus Ditlev.

Added to his season opening triumph at Challenge Wanaka, it all conspires to surely make the Taupo mid-distance specialist a lock for as many of the remaining T100 regular season starts in London (July 28), Ibiza (Sept 28), Las Vegas (Oct 19) and Dubai (Nov 15) as he wants. The way Smith is trending, he must also be a huge shout to make it all the way to the 20-man season finale at a Middle East destination still to be announced on Nov 29-30.

An athletes best three regular season results plus their performance in the final counts towards the final season standings. Without wanting to get ahead of himself, Smith is now in a position to push for one of the 20-contracted positions for season two of the T100 Triathlon World Tour.

He claimed 28 points and US$16,000 for his silver in San Fran at the end of a race that came down to a three-man sprint between van Riel, Smith an eventual bronze medalist Rico Bogen.

Triathlon GOAT Jan Frodeno hailed it on the TV commentary as “the greatest race” he’d seen.

“I gave everything I had,” said van Riel who collected 35 points and US$25,000 for his maiden T100 victory. “I just had Kyle on the line – that was incredible.”

“I think we were saying before that I’ve not been pushed to my limits in long distance racing before and I’m pretty sure that today I’ve been pushed to my limits. We’re doing a three hour twenty [minutes] race and the difference is less than a second and then 2 seconds to Rico. That’s incredible and it’s really nice to be part of that.”

Smith could only concur, after a post-race puke that was.

“It was an incredible day. This course throws up a lot of challenges. It’s iconic,” Smith said.

“I wasn’t expecting such a big group to come out of the swim together. I guess with the nature of the swim with the current, it kept us all together. The bike was super hard, but on the run I tried to lay it down over the first 4km but Martin and Rico stayed with me. With 4km to go I knew it was going to come down to a sprint finish and I had to prepare for that.”

“I felt really good. Rico went and then slowed down really quickly. I wanted to lead coming into the final straight but then Marten won and he’s the better man. I was thinking about diving, but even if I’d dived I wouldn’t have got there. He just had it over me, he was carrying too much speed.”

Speaking later on social media, Smith said: “I gave it absolutely everything and I’m over the moon with that.”

“It’s fair to say @t100triathlon San Francisco absolutely delivered. The race was beautiful, hard and hopefully entertaining for everyone watching. I’m bloody stoked 🤘🏻 I’m gunna go celebrate this one 🍾 Thanks for the support everyone 🙏🏻”

Multi-talented American Taylor Knibb (3:38:01) was dominant in winning the San Francisco T100 women’s race on the iconic Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon course

She was second out of the water, but quickly took the lead on the bike from Switzerland’s Imogen Simmonds and went on to register an impressive victory by just under 4 minutes.

Brit Kat Matthews and Germany’s Laura Philipp rounded out the podium with Sunshine Coast-based Kiwi Amelia Watkinson (3:56:06) 11th.

Watkinson, one of the 20 contracted females, is 7th in the season standings behind Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR), Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), India Lee (GBR), Paula Findlay (CAN), Lucy Byram (GBR), and Knibb.

Amelia Watkinson.

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