TONGYEONG, South Korea — Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) earned her second World Cup victory of the season on Saturday at the Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup, successfully defending her title from 2016.
Cook has had a strong second half of the season, including a win at the Yucatán World Cup in August, a bronze at the Karlovy Vary World Cup in early September and a ninth-place finish at the Rotterdam ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on Sept. 14, leading to a 10th-place overall WTS standing on the season.
The course in Tongyeong featured a sprint-distance 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. Cook was first out the water in 8 minutes, 48 seconds, with Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) right on her heels. The two Americans were followed closely by Zsannet Bragmayer of Hungary, Yun-Jun Jang of South Korea and Yuko Takahashi of Japan.
Cook and Spivey joined an 18-strong bike pack led by Japan’s Ai Ueda, which only narrowed to 15 by the end of the three-lap course. With a large group still in contention, it would come down to a running race — and Ueda, Cook and Belgium’s Claire Michel quickly established themselves in the top three.
Just as the 2016 race played out here in Tongyeong, Ueda and Cook found themselves battling it out at the front. Cook pulled away in the last few hundred meters, using her long stride to gain an advantage on the final downhill and take the win in 57:44. Ueda crossed the line six seconds later in 57:50, and Michel rounded out the podium in 58:20.
“At about the halfway point we established the same pattern as last year,” Cook said. “I love racing Ai, you always know you’re going to have a battle to the finish line. I didn’t know how many gears she had left but knew I didn’t want to get into a sprint with her, so I had to open up a big gap on the downhill and luckily it worked.”
Spivey ran her way to an eighth-place finish in 58:39. Also competing for the U.S. women were Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), who took 18th in 1:00:23, and Erin Dolan (Bentonville, Ark.) who was 22nd in 1:01:06.
In the elite men’s race, Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.) led the Americans in 21st. Aurelien Raphael of France was the champion with a time of 52:00, joined on the podium by Azerbaijan’s Rostislav Pevtsov (52:02) and Belgium’s Marten Van Riel (52:09).
Australia’s Tayler Reid, Raphael and Germany’s Maximillian Schwetz were the first three out of the water, with Lagerstrom about 13 seconds back. While a lead pack of five formed on the bike, Lagerstrom was close behind with a group of chasers that included defending champion Uxio Abuin Ares of Spain and Mexico’s Rodrigo Gonzalez, the winner of the Sarasota ITU World Cup three weeks ago.
By the time they hit the second transition, the chasers had reeled in the lead pack and formed a group that included over half the field. Through lots of lead changes on the run, Raphael ultimately broke away, outsprinting runner-up Pevtsov by just two seconds. With a 16:15 run split that was just over a minute off the pace of the leaders, Lagerstrom came through the finish in 53:08 to take 21st place.
The ITU World Cup circuit stops in Salinas, Ecuador, tomorrow, with another strong contingent of U.S. athletes set to compete. Start lists are available at triathlon.org.
2017 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 57:44
2. Ai Ueda (JPN), 57:50
3. Claire Michel (BEL), 58:20
1. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 57:44
8. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 58:39
18. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 1:00:23
22. Erin Dolan (Bentonville, Ark.), 1:01:06
Megan Foley (Salt Lake City, Utah), DNS
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Aurelien Raphael (FRA), 52:00
2. Rostislav Pevtsov (AZE), 52:02
3. Marten Van Riel (BEL), 52:09
21. Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.), 53:08
Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), DNF
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