Four winners from four different countries took out the titles in a day of ITU racing spread across the Americas this Sunday.
At the 2012 Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup, Beijing Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) posted a strong season-opening performance Saturday with a hometown victory, while Canada’s Kathy Tremblay took the spoils in the women’s race at Lake Louisa State Park.
Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) ran away from the field to lift the tape in 56 minutes, 4 seconds in the 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run event. Canada’s Kyle Jones was second in 56:11, while Tommy Zaferes (Soquel, Calif.) was third in 56:15. Shoemaker, who serves as one of the directors for the Draft Legal Challenge event, was among the lead pack of more than 20 cyclists that hit T2 together. Kevin Collington (Orlando, Fla.) and Australia’s Peter Kerr were the leaders onto the run with Shoemaker sitting fifth. By the midway point of the five kilometre leg, Shoemaker had opened up a 10-second lead on a six-man chase group and held on to improve on his runner-up finish in Clermont a year ago. His 16:19 run split was tops on the day by 11 seconds.
Tremblay won a tightly contested women’s race in 1:01:01. Kelly Whitley (Colorado Springs, Colo.) edged Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.) for second in a sprint finish in 1:01:10. Haskins finished in 1:01:12 to give the U.S. four of the six elite podium spots on the day.
In the women’s race, a lead group of six, which included top Americans Haskins and Whitley, opened up a one-minute gap on the chase pack heading into T2. The eventual podium finishers — Tremblay, Whitley and Haskins — built a 10-second lead on the field at the 2.5k mark of the run before Tremblay pulled away for the win. Whitley, who trains with the Colorado Springs-based Elite Triathlon Academy, and Haskins battled it out for second and third. Saturday’s runner-up performance capped a memorable week for Whitley, who was named USA Triathlon’s 2011 Rookie of the Year and Junior Triathlete of the Year earlier this week.
Jessica Harrison finished fourth in her first hit-out of 2012, while Ai Ueda came in fifth. 2012 U.S. Olympic qualifier Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) was sixth in her season opener. After riding just off the back of the leaders for much of the bike, she hit T2 with the chase pack and posted the day’s third-fastest run split to finish in 1:02:01.
While those races were happening in Clermont, a host of other ITU athletes were chasing points in Ecuador at the 2012 Salinas ITU Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup.
In the women’s race there, Great Britain’s Lucy Hall turned her killer swim leg into her first ITU win. Hall made her mark last year when she lead the swim in a couple of ITU World Triathlon Series races and was coming off a bronze medal in Lima. So it was no surprise she dominated the first leg, she had almost minute lead on the pack after the 1.5km swim, and 30 seconds on the next closest athletes Abbie Thorrington (GBR) and Yuka Sato (JPN). Thorrington then caught Hall on the bike, and they worked to put almost a two minute lead on the field. While Thorrington faded in the run to finish eighth, Hall stayed in front of a fast-finishing Chinese pair of Yi Zhang and Yi Wang to win by three minutes. Vanessa Raw finished fourth, and Elizabeth Bravo fifth.
In the men’s race in Salinas, the Argentian pair of Luciano Taccone and Rodrigo Nogueras both carried on their good form from Lima. Taccone took silver and Nogueras bronze in Lima last week, before Taccone went one better for the win in Salinas. Mark Buckingham (GBR) finished with silver, his first ITU podium, while Nogueras claimed bronze. It is the fourth consecutive ITU podium for Nogueras in 2012. Buckingham claimed the fastest run split of the day, with 31:38, with Taccone and Nogueras the other two athletes to break 32 minutes.
With files from USA Triathlon