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Stornes leads clean sweep for Norway

Roaring success: Casper Stornes celebrates as he approaches the finish line (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Lost in all the Floramania, Bermuda may quietly have witnessed the coming out party of triathlon’s next male superstar.

Casper Stornes completed a stunning victory in a historic elite men’s race at MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda in Hamilton on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Norwegian is ranked No 116 in the world and stormed to the title after making a breakaway on the third lap of the bike section, from which he did not look back.

And just to complete the fairytale, he led Norway to becoming the first nation to sweep the podium at a World Series event, when Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden finished second and third respectively.

Stornes won in a time of 1hr 54min 47sec, with Blummenfelt taking silver in 1:55:08 and Iden the bronze a further two seconds back.

“I just pushed on the bike,” Stornes told The Royal Gazette. “But I was a bit smashed on the run!

“The strategy before the race was to save energy on the bike and save it for the run, but they let me go and I just pushed the rest of the bike.”

Despite his relative youth, there is a precocious confidence about Stornes, who said he was expecting a possible top-five place, despite his only previous major win coming at the Norwegian national championships in 2016.

“It was top ten and top five on a good day,” Stornes said of his expectations. “I always knew I had the potential to do it, but not so early in my career. But I’m happy I had a chance today and I took it.”

What was even more impressive about the Scandinavian’s triumph was that it came after Henri Schoeman, who won the first event of the season in Abu Dhabi eight weeks ago and Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast three weeks ago, looked set to justify his pre-race favouritism by taking the early lead.

It was Schoeman, 26, who carried the air of supreme confidence before the weekend, talking of how he had a “target on my back” following his two recent victories.

Indeed, the South African had the lead after the swim by three seconds, but he was not getting any help from anyone and looked like he was having some struggles the first time up Corkscrew Hill.

The chase group caught up with him on lap three of the bike, and Stornes made his move one lap later.

The Norwegian stretched his lead on the fourth lap and Andreas Schilling, of Denmark, was the first to make a break from the chasing pack in the vain hope of catching up with the youngster.

Stornes led by 1:18 after the bike, but Schilling’s breakaway was being eaten up by the Norwegian tag team, and the Dane would drop away soon after the second transition, finishing seventeenth in the end.

The youngster’s dominant bike was enough — his time of 1:01:42 in that section was 1:11 quicker than the second fastest leg, from Iden — and he held on to beat Blummenfelt by 21 seconds.

“I heard when I had two laps to go, that Kristian and Gustav had broken away from the pack and I then I thought, oh s***, maybe the others are going to work harder to catch them,” Stornes said. “But they didn’t.

“And then I thought maybe they were going to catch me on the run, so I was thinking I was going to get third, but I had some energy in the legs.”

Mario Mola, the Spanish two-times defending WTS champion, finished fourth in 1:55:45 and moved to the top of the overall standings, taking over from Schoeman, who finished eighth in Bermuda.

For Stornes, it was another remarkable story of WTS Bermuda; a victory for a man who did not even have his own Wikipedia page before the race. Will he get his own page now?

“Maybe,” Stornes said. “I hope so.”