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Zaferes Claims First World Triathlon Series Title in Final Rio Tuneup

By USA Triathlon | July 16, 2016, 2:29 p.m. (ET)

Katie Zaferes

HAMBURG, Germany — With five weeks to go before the women’s triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team member Katie Zaferes topped the World Triathlon Series podium for the first time in her career, with Olympic teammate Gwen Jorgensen finishing third.

Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.) clocked in at 57 minutes, 3 seconds on the sprint 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course to take the tape. This is the first podium finish of the season for Zaferes, and she adds a gold medal to the five silver medals and one bronze she won on the WTS circuit last season. Rachel Klamer from the Netherlands was second in 57:14, and Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) was third in 57:29, earning her 22nd career WTS medal and fourth this season.

Zaferes and Klamer were part of a group of eight women who exited the swim and broke away from the rest of the field on the bike. The lead group grew the gap from 15 seconds on the first lap to more than 50 seconds at the second transition. Zaferes moved to the front at the start of the run and never once relinquished her lead.

“I’m so excited. This first beginning of the year wasn’t what I wanted to be, and I wasn’t racing like the Katie I know I am. Today I just raced like me, and I got the reward, and it was awesome,” Zaferes said in her post-race interview. “I just decided to keep it simple. I’d been overthinking stuff for the beginning of the year, and today I was like, ‘I’m going to go as hard as I can in the swim, bike and run.’ That’s what I did, and I believed in myself.”

Jorgensen, who came out of the swim 11 seconds behind Zaferes, missed the lead bike pack and lost time over the next 20 kilometers. She started the run 59 seconds behind Zaferes. Jorgensen was the last to leave transition, but she posted the fastest run split of the day in 15:44 over 5 kilometers, running her way to the bronze medal.

“Katie came across the line first, and it’s just incredible for her first win and keeping it in the USA family,” Jorgensen said. “Rio’s a very different race, it’s Olympic distance, big hill — completely different from this race. But obviously I thought I could have done better today.”

In the men’s race, Mario Mola of Spain posted the best time of the day in 52:19. Australia’s Jake Birtwhistle finished in 52:36 for silver, in a photo finish with Spain’s Fernando Alarza, who earned bronze in the same time.  Richard Murray of South Africa crossed the line in second, but was disqualified due to unsportsmanlike behavior after serving a 10 second penalty for a gear infraction in transition.

Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.) was the top U.S. finisher in 24th, with U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team member Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.) just 6 seconds behind Lagerstrom in 28th. Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.), who is headed to Rio next month with Maloy, finished 32nd after multiple breakaway attempts on the bike.

Maloy, Kanute and Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.) will compete in Rio on Aug. 18, and Zaferes, Jorgensen and Sarah True (Hanover, N.H.) will then compete on Aug. 20 at Copacabana Beach. The races are slated to start at 10 a.m. ET on both days. Learn more about the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Triathlon Teams at usatriathlon.org/rio2016.

ITU World Triathlon Hamburg
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Katie Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.), 57:03
2. Rachel Klamer (NED), 57:14
3. Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), 57:29

U.S. Finishers
24. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 58:33
30. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 58:44
32. Lindsey Jerdonek (Cleveland, Ohio), 58:49
42. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 59:27

Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Mario Mola (ESP), 52:19
2. Jake Birtwhistle (AUS), 52:36
3. Fernando Alarza (ESP), 52:36

U.S. Finishers
24. Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.), 53:31
28. Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.), 53:37
32. Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.), 53:47
35. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 53:58
50. Tommy Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 55:01