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Taylor Spivey, Katie Zaferes Finish 4-5 In Winner-Take-All Triathlon Championship

By Chrös McDougall | Sept. 05, 2020, 1:52 p.m. (ET)

The Elite Women's race begins at the WTS Hamburg World Championships on Sept. 5, 2020. 

With triathlon literally going all in, Taylor Spivey and defending champion Katie Zaferes finished just off the podium at Saturday’s world championship, which marked the sport’s first — and last — competition of the 2020 season.

With the World Triathlon Series scaled back to a single stop this weekend in Hamburg, Germany, Spivey crossed the finish line fourth, just 32 seconds behind the winner Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain. Zaferes used a late surge to finish just three seconds behind Spivey. Team USA’s Erika Ackerlund was 14th and Summer Rappaport, the lone U.S. triathlete to have already qualified for next summer's Olympic Games Tokyo 2021, was 17th.

Morgan Pearson was the top U.S. finisher in the preceding men’s race, going from 41st at the start of the run to eighth. Kevin McDowell also finished in the top 20, taking 18th.

Typically triathlon’s world champions are named based on results of the WTS season, but with the six-race series limited just to Hamburg, the event served as the sport’s standalone world championship.

Zaferes, Spivey and Rappaport came into the race ranked 1, 4 and 5, respectively, though with the WTS season otherwise wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic there were no guarantees coming into the race in which athletes completed a 750-meter swim, biked for 18.9 kilometers and finished with a 5-kilometer run.

Spivey, Zaferes and Rappaport were 4-5-7 out of the water, and then Spivey and Zaferes stayed within the lead pack during the bike portion while Ackerlund moved into a second group and Rappaport dropped to the next chase pack.

By the second transition, Rappaport had fallen out of the picture to 48th place, nearly two minutes behind the leaders, while Spivey and Zaferes remained in the thick of the contenders.

From there, however, Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown began pulling away, followed by Bermuda’s Flora Duffy. Spivey battled with Germany’s Laura Lindemann for third for much of the run and ended up finishing eight seconds off the podium. Zaferes made up ground toward the end to finish just behind Spivey.

The result marks the first year since 2013 in which an American woman did not finish on the podium. Zaferes finished first, second and third in the past three years.

The Hamburg event, which is taking place in a large park with no fans rather than its usual downtown location, wraps up on Sunday with the mixed team relay world championship. The U.S. last medaled in that event in 2018, when it finished third.

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.