SARASOTA, Fla. — Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) earned a bronze medal on Sunday at the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon World Cup, racing over a fast and furious sprint-distance duathlon course to earn his second World Cup medal in as many starts.
The men’s ITU World Cup was the final event of the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, a weekend of racing at Nathan Benderson Park that also included elite, paratriathlon, women’s collegiate and age-group competitions.
USA Triathlon and the ITU announced earlier this week that all races at the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival would be shifted from triathlons to duathlons (run-bike-run format) due to heightened algae levels in the lake at Nathan Benderson Park. Then on Sunday afternoon, the course was shortened from an Olympic-distance (5-kilometer run, 36.6-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run) to a sprint (2.5k run, 18.3k bike, 5k run) due to hot weather conditions.
The sprint-distance duathlon format produced fast and furious racing from the start. Rodrigo Gonzalez and Crisanto Grajales of Mexico pushed hard on the first 2.5k run, as they both had incurred 10-second penalties prior to the race that would have to be served in the first transition.
After serving their penalties, the two frontrunners joined a peloton on the bike that contained almost the entire field. The pack rode conservatively through the 20k course, saving their legs for a 5k run that would ultimately decide the podium spots.
U.S. Olympian Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.) was among the top-three athletes heading out of the second transition, but a large group of men were chasing close behind. By the final lap, it was Gonazalez, Grajales, McDowell and Marten Van Riel of Belgium fighting for the podium positions.
Gonzalez ultimately had the legs to pull away for the win, breaking the tape with a time of 49 minutes, 36 seconds. Van Riel took the runner-up spot in 49:43, and McDowell was just one second behind to take bronze in 49:44.
“When the race became a duathlon, I knew it would just be a matter of staying smart out there, especially in the heat,” said McDowell, who also reached the podium with silver at an ITU World Cup in Huelva, Spain, two weeks ago. “On the bike, I just wanted to stay relaxed and position myself well. I wanted to show USA Triathlon that I’m a complete athlete and that I can still produce a strong run in these conditions.”
The race doubled as the USA Triathlon Elite National Championships, with McDowell, Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) and Tommy Zaferes (Watsonville, Calif.) taking the podium as the top three American finishers. Smoragiewicz placed 10th in the overall field in 50:04, a career-best World Cup finish, while Zaferes was 13th in 50:13.
Kanute and Jason West (Boulder, Colo.) also earned top-20 finishes, taking 15th (50:19) and 19th (50:45) respectively.
Prior to this weekend’s events in Sarasota, the ITU World Cup circuit had not made a stop in the U.S. since 2009. The circuit comes to the U.S. twice in 2018, to New Orleans in April and back to the Sarasota-Bradenton area in October.
For complete event information, race recaps and results from the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, including the ITU Triathlon World Cup, visit usatriathlon.org/2017sbtrifest.
Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon World Cup (course changed to duathlon)
2.5k run, 18.3k bike, 5k run
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX), 49:36
2. Marten Van Riel (BEL), 49:43
3. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 49:44
3. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 49:44
10. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 50:04
11. Dmitry Polyansky (RUS), 50:08
13. Tommy Zaferes (Watsonville, Calif.), 50:13
15. Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.), 50:19
19. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 50:45
23. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 50:55
25. Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.), 51:10
29. Collin Chartier (Fairfax, Va.), 51:39
32. Hunter Lussi (Gibson Island, Md.), 52:20
36. Nicholas Sterghos (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 53:26
38. Tyson Wieland (Dallas Center, Iowa), 55:32
41. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 58:33
USA Triathlon Elite National Championships
1. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 49:44
2. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 50:04
3. Tommy Zaferes (Watsonville, Calif.), 50:13
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).