How could Gustav Iden become 70.3 World Champion?

The most competitive 70.3 World Championship in history is over and winner was Gustav Iden, someone very few people had their eyes on. In my eyes, he was the favourite. When he started the run together with Alistair Brownlee and Rudy Van Berg I was certain that he was going to take the win.

His name is far from unknown in the ITU world of triathlon, but he has never been a superstar. Rarely winning, and often behind the more known Norwegian partner in crime Kristian Bummenfelt. What he has done is consistently been performing superb, and usually just a fraction from the top spot. In ITU 10 seconds can mean the difference of a first place and a fourth place. The winner gets all the glory, but form fitness and performance perspective the difference is marginal.

From Gustav’s results the last couple of year I knew he was healthy and consistently a very high performer. In IM 70.3 Bahrain his finish time of 3:29:25 was beaten by Kristian Blummenfelt, but only by 21 seconds. His lighter bodyweight fits the Nice 70.3 course better. In addition, coming into triathlon from road cycling, his technical skills on the bike can match the best. While comparing run times in different 70.3 is not a great comparison, his 1:07:13 run split in Bahrain is only matched by two other in the history of triathlon, Kristian and Jan Frodeno.

While all eyes were on Alistair Brownlee after the breakaway was clear, I was very optimistic on behalf of Gustav. He would run him down. How could I dare to bet against a two-times Olympian who was the best runner in nearly every ITU-race he attended? In his prime Olympic distance fitness Alistair run performance was only slightly better than Gustav’s current run fitness. When training and preparing for Ironman Hawaii I had my doubts that Alistair had his best high-end speed run legs. Training for an Olympic distance race is much better for a 70.3 performance compared to training for Ironman distance.

With that said it is obvious that Gustav did not have the optimal preparations either. His main focus is ITU and the Olympic in Toyko 2020. His fourth-place finish in the ITU Grand Final in Lausanne the week before worked as a good build-up, but probably not ideal. Another big topic was the bike. While nearly every other PRO used a triathlon bike he used a road bike. From looking at the result is was a good choice. The truth is more that he won despite using a road bike, not because of it. He just didn’t have a bike sponsor that could provide him with a good TT-option. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have been better off with a well-suited TT-bike like Sebastian Kienle which he had trained technical downhill riding on. In a course like Nice, however, the margins would have been small, and probably in the magnitude that it would not have changed anything. Not big enough to enable him to go in a solo breakaway. Still, I see many marginal gains to be made.

Gustav on his road bike – Photo:


Watching the race (or listening to the commentators while I was out running on the big part of the bike leg) was a thrill. I had my hope since his 70.3 debuts in Haugesund 2016, where he swept away a solid field, that he would go for the 70.3 World Championship. The Norwegian Triathlon Federation has, at least until last year, been very reluctant of their athletes doing IM-branded races. That is understandable, but the 70.3 World Championship has become a big deal. Winning it would, in addition to prize money, bring attention and hopefully a decent bike sponsor in Gustav’s case.

It’s very easy to cheer for Gustav. He is sympathetic, honest, funny and shows great sportsmanship. He has, in my view, been hidden in the shadow of Kristian Blummenfelt, in regards to attention and sponsorship (that is not Kristian’s fault of course). Now it is his time to shine! So proud of you Gustav 😀


Publisert av


I am a 33 year old PRO triatlete. My goal is to swim, bike and run as fast as possible, and enjoy the journey. All my adventures and triathlon related stuff is well documented on this blog.

5 kommentarer til “How could Gustav Iden become 70.3 World Champion?

  1. God analyse og oppsummering av et av årets sportslige høydepunkter for oss nordmenn. Bemerkelsesverdig at han ikke var mer på radaren hos drevne tri-kommentatorer. «Straffen» for å ikke komme fra USA, England eller Tyskland?

    1. Jeg tror ikke at kommentatorne er på Kaggestad-nivå og har gjort hjemmeleksen sin så grundig. Men jeg forstår likevel hvorfor han har gått under radaren. Han er ingen «vinner», og har nesten ikke vunnet noen konkurranser. Å hele tiden være nr. 2-5 i ITU-sammenheng betyr naturligvis at nivået er skyhøyt, men det gir dessverre lite oppmerksomhet.

      Hvis vi snur det rundt så har jeg personlig null kontroll på ITU-profilene fra andre land som ligger høyt med aldri vinner.

  2. Nice article, Allan. Even though you write than he won «despite» of the road bike, from my perspective this clearly shows that a road bike with clip-on bars will be sufficient for 95 % of triathletes – you know, the great majority that does not have a chance to put their feet on the podium anyway 🙂

    1. The question is actually not road bike or tri-bike. From my point of view it shows that what is the main factor is the rider’s position. It counts for roughly 80 % of the aerodynamic drag. So if a TT-bike is 10 % more aerodynamic than a road bike it is only 10 % of the 20 % that the bike accounts for, which again is 2 % of the total drag. I am still convinced that Gustav would have an easier ride if he had a lite TT-bike with disc brakes (which he had trained on), but not enough to change a lot of things about the race.

      A road bike with clip-on is, of course, sufficient for most triathletes, but they often bring a bigger challenge in finding a good fit. Most triathletes leave a lot of time-saving up due to poor riding position.

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