Kasper Takes Second, Knibb Fourth in Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup

By USA Triathlon | June 04, 2017, 12:02 p.m. (ET)

  

CAGLIARI, ITALY – Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) earned a silver medal at the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup on Sunday, while Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) placed fourth in the second World Cup of her career.

Kasper covered the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course in a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 28 seconds. Jolanda Annen of Switzerland took the win in 1:02:04, and Canada’s Joanna Brown was third in 1:02:29. Kasper’s silver is the continuation of a standout season in which she has already earned a World Cup bronze in Chengdu, China, and a World Triathlon Series bronze in Yokohama, Japan. 

Kasper put herself in a strong position from the start, leading the field out of the water with a 9:44 swim split. She and Knibb joined into a group of eight on the bike, sticking with the lead pack through the technical and hilly five-lap course. Knibb would record the fastest bike split of the day in 34:03, though the group of eight was still together heading into the second transition. 

The race would come down to the three-lap run, and no one was able to keep pace with Annen. Her blistering 17:01 5k was enough to build a 20-second gap and easily secure the win. Kasper recorded a 17:21 to cross the line in second, outsprinting Brown by just one second. 

“It was a tough hill on the bike and it took a lot out of my legs, so that definitely made it hurt on the run,” Kasper said. “I had a very slow transition, so I was chasing right from the start. I didn’t want to go too fast and burn my legs, so I just tried to slowly pick up the pace, but Jolanda (Annen) was the one to beat today.”

Knibb, who earned a bronze medal in her World Cup debut in Montreal last year, secured fourth place after a 17:25 run split.

In the men’s elite race, Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led the U.S. men with a fifth-place finish. It was another victory for the Swiss, as Adrien Briffod earned his first World Cup win in 54 minutes, 49 seconds. Henri Schoeman of South Africa placed second in 54:52, and Anthony Pujades of France rounded out the podium in 54:58.

Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) was the first American out of the water in 9:15, 22 seconds back from Schoeman’s race-leading 8:53 split. McElroy was 56th out of the water in 9:31, making his climb through the ranks to a fifth-place finish all the more impressive.

McElroy joined with a chase group of about 30 athletes on the bike, recording a top-10 split of 29:45 to put himself in a strong position heading onto the run course. He went on to run the second-fastest 5k of the day in 15:01, working his way through the field to cross the line in fifth. 

McElroy has now been the top U.S. finisher in three of his four ITU races this season, earning a silver medal at the New Plymouth ITU Triathlon World Cup in April and recording a top-20 to lead the American men at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama.

Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) also had a strong race, recording a career-best seventh place. Hemming’s previous best was ninth at a World Cup in Tongyeong, South Korea, last year. 

ITU racing continues in Europe next weekend, with a World Triathlon Series stop in Leeds, England, on June 11.

2017 Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup 
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run


Elite Women – Complete Results
1. Jolanda Annen (SUI), 1:02:04
2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:02:28
3. Joanna Brown (CAN), 1:02:29

U.S. Finishers

2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:02:28
4. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 1:02:32
10. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 1:03:05

Elite Men – Complete Results

1. Adrien Briffod (SUI), 00:54:49
2. Henri Schoeman (RSA), 00:54:52
3. Anthony Pujades (FRA), 00:54:58

U.S. Finishers
5. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 00:55:15
7. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 00:55:20
14. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 00:55:50
30. Alec Willmovsky (Malibu, Calif.), 00:58:04 


About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).